Lebanese Government Invites Senior Advisor to Lebanon Amid Rising Maritime Border Tensions After a gas rig was set up in the Karish field, which the Israeli government claims is part of its UN-recognized Exclusive Economic Zone, the government of Lebanon invited Amos Hochstein, the Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the US Department of State, to return to Lebanon, insisting that the field is located in a disputed area. [AP News]
Deputy Head of Hezbollah Affirms ‘Readiness’ to Act Amid Karish Field Developments In a public statement, Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, affirmed the organization’s readiness to take action – not excluding the use of force – against gas development operations in allegedly disputed maritime territory between the governments of Lebanon and Israel. The Deputy seemed to clarify, however, that Hezbollah’s ‘readiness to act’ may be contingent on the government of Lebanon’s position on the matter. The government of Israel’s position is that the field is within its internationally-recognized exclusive economic zone (EEZ). [Reuters] The United States designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
MP Mark Daou Calls on US to Impose More Sanctions on Individuals Complicit in Crisis, Port Explosion In an interview with Middle East Eye, newly elected MP Mark Daou said, “I would like to see US sanctions on those accused [in the port explosion] and sanctions on those involved in the Central Bank of Lebanon . . . Since the local processes in Lebanon and those in power continue to undermine justice and work against the interest of Lebanese people, added sanctions are needed to take action.” Both Mark Daou’s election into the Lebanese Parliament and the subsequent defeat of a Hezbollah-aligned MP are considered to be the result of a ‘major upset’ in the recent Parliamentary elections. [Middle East Eye]
US Lawsuit Put Forward Against Gebran Bassil and Salim Jreissati in Case of Kidnapping and Torture According to L’Orient Today, “The Lebanese government has been officially notified of a US civil suit against politicians Gibran Bassil and former Minister of Justice and Minister of Labor Salim Jreissati, in which two US-based plaintiffs allege they conspired to kidnap and torture them . . . The notification from the US embassy to the Lebanese government is significant because if the defendants do not respond to the lawsuit after being formally notified of it, they risk a judgment in absentia being issued against them.” [L’Orient Today]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Arab Weekly Lebanon’s Election Offers Lessons For Now And The Future Elie Abouaoun
Abouaoun writes, “It is naïve to believe that the 13 MPs can form one coherent parliamentary bloc that will survive the tumultuous four-year mandate. However, there is no reason why these MPs should not consider tactical alliances amongst themselves and with other traditional parties in the parliament when it comes to a specific draft law, vote or position. Most importantly, as a small opposition group, they should emphasise the accountability of executive power rather than a wholesale ideological discourse to fix Lebanon’s endemic problems, while being a minority in the parliament and not represented in the government. As any other collective of human beings, some of the new MPs will prove to be incompetent, opportunistic, or corrupt. Given the sensitivity of the issues at stake and given that they are new to their roles, all MPs claiming to be “change-oriented” should start by establishing a transparent and rigorous accountability mechanism for their own performance. Potential disappointment from any lack of performance or misdeeds of some should not stymie the experience of having a group of reform-oriented MPs who are not affiliated with traditional parties and who deserve the benefit of the doubt.”
Council on Foreign Relations What Is Hezbollah? Kali Robinson
Robinson writes, “Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim political party and militant group based in Lebanon, where its extensive security apparatus, political organization, and social services network fostered its reputation as “a state within a state.” Founded in the chaos of the fifteen-year Lebanese Civil War, the Iran-backed group is driven by its opposition to Israel and its resistance to Western influence in the Middle East. With its history of carrying out global terrorist attacks, parts of Hezbollah—and in some cases the entire organization—have been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and many other countries. In recent years, long-standing alliances with Iran and Syria have embroiled the group in the Syrian civil war, where its support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime has transformed Hezbollah into an increasingly effective military force. But with Lebanon’s power brokers facing public discontent as the nation verges on failure, Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon could change.”
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.