Lebanon Daily News Brief 09/26/2022

Monday, September 26, 2022



Lebanese Veterans Protest Economic Conditions, Parliament Passes 2022 Budget
According to AP News, “Lebanese army retirees scuffled with parliamentary guard troops as they briefly broke through a cordon leading to Parliament in downtown Beirut during a rally Monday. They were protesting their decimated monthly pay amid the country’s economic meltdown . . . Hours after the protest, Parliament passed the 2022 budget, a key demand by the International Monetary Fund, with 63 legislators voting in favor, 37 voting against and six abstaining. The new budget will calculate customs tax revenue at 15,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar at a time when the black market rate is more than double that at about 37,000 pounds to the dollar.” [
AP News]

Sunni Grand Mufti Calls for Election of President
According to Arab News, “Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian warned on Saturday that Lebanon has become a failed state. ‘We are rapidly moving toward no state at all, and the Arabs and the world will soon start ignoring Lebanon’s existence because of political mismanagement at all levels,’ he said. ‘We need to elect a new president and the MPs are responsible for electing him or creating a presidential vacuum.’ Derian had invited Sunni MPs for a meeting at Dar Al-Fatwa to discuss possible candidates. All but three of 27 Sunni MPs from different political currents attended the meeting, including one MP affiliated with Hezbollah, in addition to reformist and independent MPs.” [Arab News]

Maritime Border Offer Expected by the Week’s End
According to the National, “A source close to the negotiations underscored that a written offer would not constitute a formal agreement. ‘It’s not a formal agreement. We are just expecting to receive Hochstein’s written proposal for the border delineation,’ the source said, adding the offer would finalise what was previously a verbal proposal. ‘The Lebanese side gets a copy and the Israeli side gets an identical copy,’ the source said. If both sides agree to the terms of the offer they would then hold an indirect meeting in Ras el Naqoura ― the international border crossing between Lebanon and Israel ― to finalise details through US mediation.” [The National]

Ukrainian Ship Transporting Corn, Vegetable Oil Reaches Lebanon
According to AP News, “A ship carrying thousands of tons of corn and vegetable oil from war-ravaged Ukraine docked in northern Lebanon on Monday, the first such vessel since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor started seven months ago.” [AP News]


For The Sake Of The Children
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “It is saddening to assess the situation related to children in Lebanon. Two recent studies from UNICEF (UN International Children’s Emergency Fund) and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) detail how a veritable lost generation has resulted from the pandemic and the Beirut Post blast which exacerbated the dislocation caused by the economic demise of the country. Twice a year, UNICEF carries out an in-depth analysis of both Lebanese and refugee children. Called the Child-Focused Rapid Assessment (CFRA), its most recent finding from this summer found that 84% of households could not cover the basic necessities and that one in four children had recently gone to bed hungry. With jobs evaporating and the value of the currency barely recognizable, household debt was on the rise.”

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The Hill
US Quietly Pursues Middle East Breakthrough With Israel-Lebanon Deal

Laura Kelly

Kelly writes, “The negotiations appear to be closing in on the finish line amid intensive negotiations between U.S., Israeli and Lebanese officials that took place this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The administration has taken pains to downplay the significance of the potential agreement — concerned that anything that appears to look like normalization between Israel and Lebanon would set off a catastrophic fight with Hezbollah, which has an estimated 150,000 missiles positioned on Israel’s northern border. But if successful, an agreement between Lebanon and Israel — with Beirut implicitly recognizing Israel’s legitimacy while the two sides are at war — would mark a tremendous victory for the Biden administration’s use of diplomacy to advance Middle East stability.”

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Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI)
The Unbearable Cost of Inflation in the MENA Region

Leila Dagher

Dagher writes, “Lebanon has been facing multi-pronged crises which have deepened and expanded dramatically due to bad government policies. As a result, inflation has been skyrocketing for the past couple of years. The annual inflation rate for 2021 came in at 154.8% and is expected by Fitch Solutions to accelerate to 178% for the year 2022, placing Lebanon second highest among all countries in the index. This latest increase in the projected inflation rate can be ascribed to adjustments of “telecommunication, port and customs tariffs” by the government. Both businesses and households have suffered tremendously from the uncontrolled inflation. Given the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation, the government is urged to prioritize policies aimed at curbing inflation, such as temporarily eliminating customs tariffs on all non-luxury products rather than increasing them. All in all, embarking on an IMF program immediately remains the only way possible to save the country from a total irreversible collapse.”

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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.