Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/25/2022

Wednesday, May 25, 2022




State Department Announces Sanctions Against Iranian Oil Smuggling, Money Laundering Network
According to a statement issued by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, “the United States is designating an international oil smuggling and money laundering network, led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) official Behnam Shahriyari and former IRGC-QF official Rostam Ghasemi, both of whom are designated persons.” The State Department’s designation identifies it as a terrorist network for facilitating the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Quds Force. [Al Arabiya]

Read the Full Statement Here

Social Affairs Ministry: Over 45,000 Households Received ESSN Assistance So Far
Launched in December of 2021, the World Bank-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) – in which $246 million are earmarked to provide cash assistance to Lebanon’s most vulnerable households – is underway according to the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs, having issued cash assistance to at least 45,779 families. [L’Orient Today]

First Batch of French Buses Received by Lebanon
According to the Minister of Public Works and Transport Ali Hamieh, Lebanon has received fifty buses from the Government of France as part of a larger project of improving its transportation infrastructure. Should the initial ‘pilot’ program prove to be a success, more vehicles are expected to arrive from France. A third of the new buses will start connecting areas of greater Beirut in the coming weeks following this initial delivery, while the rest will serve the remainder of the country. [The National]

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim: Lebanon Key Intermediary in US-Syrian Hostage Mediation
According to Lebanon’s Director General of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, senior US officials met with the Major General in Washington to discuss the continuation of negotiations with Syria regarding the release of American hostages, including freelance journalist and former Marine Austin Tice. [The National]


Setting The Agenda: What’s Next In Lebanon?
Jean AbiNader
AbiNader writes, “It is far more logical to address the questions faced by the past unsuccessful governments and assess how new coalitions will orient themselves around the following issues: improvement of the electricity sector, banking reform, independence of the judiciary, anti-corruption measures, and the many other policies that must be seriously implemented and prevail in the country. Can the various opposition and independent groups generate a common platform that will draw the necessary votes for success? One would think that this should be a no-brainer, but then again, this is the Lebanese government  that we’re talking about. For example, most politicians agree that electricity reform and restructuring is needed but fault lines emerge over contracting, oversight, reporting, rate-setting, and other trivial points of contention that would be easier to solve if the new parliament and government just follow the steps that were outlined in legislation passed in March: independent monitors, a non-confessional electricity board, an independent body for setting rates and production issues, etc. The political will to act on these issues should now be less difficult to muster.”

AP News
Lebanon Currency Hits New Low After Vote, Crisis Deepens
“On Tuesday afternoon, the dollar was selling at 34,000 pounds on the black market, surpassing the 33,000 pounds to the dollar recorded in January. The Lebanese currency was pegged at 1,500 pounds to the dollar for 22 years until the crisis erupted in in October 2019. Since then, more than 80% of the population has been plunge into poverty, suffering acute shortages in electricity, medicine and other necessities as central bank reserves dry up. The crisis has also triggered the biggest wave of emigration since the 1975-90 civil war.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.