Lebanon Daily News Brief 06/02/2022

Thursday, June 2, 2022



Ministry of Health Responds to Video of Assault on Hospital Employee
After a video showing the director of a Bint Jbeil governmental hospital physically attacking one of the female hospital employees was widely circulated on social media, the Ministry of Health released an official statement, saying, “those concerned were summoned for questioning,” as part of its investigation into the matter.  [L’Orient Today]

Ministry of Tourism Authorizes Denomination of Prices in USD 
In a circular extending from June 2nd to September of 2022, the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism announced its authorization of tourist establishments to display prices in US dollars on the condition that the final invoice state the cost in both Lebanese pounds and US dollars. The circular also required prices be competitive based on customers’ buying power, under the threat of punitive measures. [MTV]

Land Transport Unions to Strike Later This Month
L’Orient Today reports that, “land transport unions head Bassam Tleis on Wednesday announced a strike on June 23 to protest the deteriorating living conditions of the public transport drivers as the country plunges further into an unprecedented economic crisis.” [L’Orient Today]

Human Rights Group Demands BDL Release Funds for People with Disabilities
Protesting in front of the Central Bank Building, the Lebanese Union for People with Physical Disabilities demanded the immediate release of funds set aside for people with special needs. In attendance at the protest was Caretaker Minister of Social Affairs Hector Hajjar. [L’Orient Today


Post-Election Lebanon Grinds On Without A National Strategy
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Fitch Ratings commented in a report released May 27, that the challenges of building coalitions portends significant roadblocks with respect to Lebanon’s reform momentum. The report called the results of the election “inconclusive,” and asserted that it will be difficult to form a stable governing majority and therefore adopt any reform agenda. Chief among the disagreements among MPs is banking sector reform, despite the economic reform plan adopted on the final day of the Mikati government and in spite of the Staff-level agreement with the IMF. There are a number of banking sector reforms, opposed by some veteran MPs that must be addressed before any IMF relief package can be implemented. Fitch, of course, did not directly engage with critical issues such as an independent judiciary, completion of the Beirut Port explosion investigation, political reforms, reduction of public sector costs, and improvements to key sectors such as electricity and telecommunications. While the list is well known as well as optional solutions, the lack of a consensus among parliamentarians will impede any progress and hold up the presidential election as well.”

The Atlantic Council
Lebanon Just Had An Election. Its Result? Curb The Optimism.

David Daoud
Daoud writes, “The recent elections admittedly constitute a minor setback for Hezbollah. The group’s allies have lost their majority and Hezbollah’s absolute number of votes reveals a minor—but possibly temporary—loss of popularity among Lebanese Shia. However, it’s important to remember that Hezbollah has never entrusted its fortunes, influence, or actions to the electorate. Even when the group and its allies were in the parliamentary minority between 2005 and 2018 and were facing a theoretically unified March 14 Alliance, Hezbollah retained its private arsenal, growing its domestic organizational apparatus, and embarking upon military adventures in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen without any regard for Lebanese public opinion or governmental approval . . . Several factors discourage optimism that they will either consistently side against the Hezbollah-aligned bloc or for fundamental change. Lebanon’s sectarian political system heavily favors traditionalist parties over “opposition” candidates and “independents.” The country’s ongoing economic collapse will also force them and their “March 14” counterparts to pragmatically swallow a bitter pill: either work towards bland “consensus” objectives that will leave Lebanon’s root problems unremedied, or paralyze the country by picking a political fight with Hezbollah over its private arsenal, corrosion of the Lebanese state, and protection of Beirut’s corrupt political order.” 

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.