Lebanon Daily News Brief 08/11/2022

Thursday, August 11, 2022



US Issues Arrest Warrant for Lebanese Antiquities Collector
Georges Lotfi, a Lebanese collector who ironically advised investigators on antiquities-smuggling investigations, has been charged by a New York court with 24 counts of criminal possession of stolen property. [The National]

Finance Committee Approves Amendments to World Bank Loan Agreement
Today, the Finance and Budget Parliamentary Committee approved amendments to a law authorizing the $150 million World Bank loan that would be used to buy wheat in order to secure the national supply for ‘nearly’ nine months. [Naharnet]

Caretaker Government for More UNHCR Coordination on Refugees
According to L’Orient Today, Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar said Wednesday after a meeting about Syrian refugees attended by President Michel Aoun, caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib and General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, that the government will inform the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, that it should ‘coordinate with the Lebanese government on all issues related to Syrian refugees’ instead of ‘taking decisions that are related to this file exclusively’.” [L’Orient Today]

Shipment of Ukrainian Grain to Lebanon ‘Cancelled’ 
As stated by the Ukrainian Embassy in Lebanon, Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the ports, the shipment arrived five months later . . . [The buyer and seller] have reached an agreement to cancel the order . . . [and] the seller is currently considering other grain purchase orders.” [L’Orient Today]


Arab News
Was Lebanon The World’s Biggest Ponzi Scheme? – Analysis
Rebecca Anne Proctor

Proctor writes, “A day before the second anniversary of the Aug. 4, 2020, Beirut port blast, the World Bank published a scathing report on Lebanon’s financial crisis and alleged acts of deception that appear to have made the country’s economic collapse inevitable. Entitled ‘Ponzi Finance?,’ the report compares the Mediterranean country’s economic model since 1993 to a Ponzi scheme — an investment fraud named after Italian swindler and con artist Carlo Ponzi. During the 1920s, Ponzi promised investors a 50 percent return within a few months for what he claimed was an investment in international mail coupons. Ponzi then used the funds from new investors to pay fake ‘returns’ to earlier investors . . . Lebanese economists and financial analysts largely agree with the World Bank’s Ponzi scheme analogy. ‘Lebanon is the greatest Ponzi scheme in economic history,’ Nasser Saidi, a Lebanese politician and economist who served as minister of economy and industry and vice governor for the Lebanese central bank, told Arab News.”

Read More Here

The National
Lebanon’s Maritime Border Offers A Case Study Of Missed Opportunities

Nada Homsi

Homsi writes, “Lebanese and Israeli officials say there has been positive progress during maritime border talks between the two countries and US mediators have recently been back in the region in a bid to get progress. But as a potential deal takes shape behind closed doors, Lebanese political rhetoric surrounding it has been loaded . . . But former US diplomat Frederic Hof, who previously mediated the border dispute from 2011 to 2012, said Lebanon’s dysfunctional politicians were at fault for not making a deal years ago and squandering the potential benefit . . . Ten years after the Hof Line was presented, Mr Mikati is again prime minister, albeit in a caretaker capacity, and struggling to form a new government during a period of economic upheaval. But all the experts in the energy sector reiterate that a deal is just the first step.” 

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Arab News
Nasrallah Speech Sparks Fears Of Power Vacuum In Lebanon
Najia Houssari

Houssari writes, “Doubts were cast over the upcoming presidential election in Lebanon later this year, after Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called on Lebanese officials ‘to form a government that enjoys its full powers to assume its responsibilities, whether or not a new president is elected,’ on Tuesday. It was the first time Nasrallah mentioned publicly the possibility of not holding the presidential elections, raising fears of a political vacuum in the crisis-stricken country, similar to that which preceded President Michel Aoun’s election in 2016, and which lasted over two years.”

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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.