US Ambassador Delivers Official Maritime Demarcation Proposal to President Aoun According to AP News, “The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon on Saturday delivered a maritime border demarcation proposal to President Michel Aoun, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri on Saturday, as negotiations with Israel progress.” [AP News]
New Government May Be Announced Soon, Reshuffling of Ministers Expected According to Naharnet, “The expected governmental reshuffle might expand to target five portfolios, informed sources have said. The reshuffle ‘will not stop at replacing the economy and displaced ministers but will also target three other portfolios: youth and sports, social affair and foreign affairs,’ the sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Monday.” [Naharnet]
Speaker of Parliament Berri Announces Second Presidential Voting Session According to Naharnet, “Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he will call for a second presidential election session before the middle of the current month . . . The Lebanese parliament on Thursday held a first presidential election round in which no candidate managed to garner 86 votes needed to win from the first round.” [Naharnet]
King Salman Humanitarian Fund Launches Aid Campaign in West Bekaa According to Arab News, “The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) distributed 314 food baskets to Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s West Bekaa region. The relief items, which were distributed on Saturday, benefited 1,570 people in the area.” [Arab News]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
AP News, PBS Russia Smuggling Ukrainian Grain to Help Pay for Putin’s War Michael Biesecker, Sarah El Deeb and Beatrice Dupuy
Biesecker, El Deeb, and Dupuy write, When the bulk cargo ship Laodicea docked in Lebanon last summer, Ukrainian diplomats said the vessel was carrying grain stolen by Russia and urged Lebanese officials to impound the ship. Moscow called the allegation “false and baseless,” and Lebanon’s prosecutor general sided with the Kremlin and declared that the 10,000 tons of barley and wheat flour wasn’t stolen and allowed the ship to unload. But an investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has found the Laodicea, owned by Syria, is part of a sophisticated Russian-run smuggling operation that has used falsified manifests and seaborne subterfuge to steal Ukrainian grain worth at least $530 million — cash that has helped feed President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. AP used satellite imagery and marine radio transponder data to track three dozen ships making more than 50 voyages carrying grain from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to ports in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and other countries. Reporters reviewed shipping manifests, searched social media posts, and interviewed farmers, shippers and corporate officials to uncover the details of the massive smuggling operation.
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.