Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/1/2021
Lebanon Announces Delegation for IMF Talks
Yesterday Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s new government announced a delegation team to resume talks with the IMF. The team includes Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami, Finance Minister Yousseff Khalil, Economy Minister Amin Salam, and central bank governor Riad Salameh. [Naharnet] Yesterday President Michel Aoun asked the financial firm Lazard to continue its advisory role in preparing for the resumption of IMF talks. [Al Arabiya]
Turkish Company Shuts Down Power Barges
Today the Turkish company Karpowership halted its electricity supply to Lebanon from its two power barges off the coast of Beirut. The company said Lebanon owes Karpowership more than $100 million in overdue payments. Karpowership says the shutdown comes after its contract expired on Thursday at midnight. [AP]
Israel Investigating Fallen Drone in Lebanese Territory
Hezbollah claimed it shot down an Israeli drone yesterday in the south of Lebanon. Israel says it is investigating the incident after acknowledging that “during routine activity, an IDF drone fell with Lebanese territory.” [Reuters]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Tackling the Transportation Crisis in Lebanon: Past and Present
Tammam Nakkash discusses with Alternative Frequencies podcast host Bilal El-Amine the state of transportation in Lebanon, proposing both immediate and long-term solutions, particularly in light of the lifting of fuel subsidies and the paralysis it has caused in the critical transportation sector.
‘Why Should We Trust Them?’: Lebanon’s New Government With Cynicism
Kanaan writes, “One would think that residents of a collapsed country would rejoice in the formation of a government after 13 months of a stalemate – while the myriad of issues plaguing the country kept accumulating and worsening – most Lebanese, however, have welcomed the news with thinly veiled cynicism and exasperated shrugs…While much maligned billionaire Nijab Mikati’s government, which won the parliament’s confidence vote on September 20 with 85-15 votes, vowed to swiftly resume International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout talks and get cracking on a host of reforms to lift the country out of its worsening economic crisis, there seems to be little to no confidence that any fundamental change is on the horizon.”
The Wall Street Journal
The Leopards of Lebanon
Doran writes, “Lebanon must find a way to preserve the country’s tradition of liberalism and pluralism amid its descent into chaos and darkness. Perhaps the Christian, Sunni, Druze and even some Shiite communities will decide that they have had enough of Iran and Hezbollah and their corrupt elites, and seek to establish some kind of decentralized political community to salvage what they can of the original idea of Lebanon—that is, somehow to change everything so that it can remain the same.”
How WhatsApp Broke Lebanon
Lebanese economist Nisreen Salti with NPR’s Planet Money about the era following the end of the Lebanese Civil War, when there was hope to regrow the economy and even for Beirut to become a financial hub for the Middle East. Nisreen says that the big mistake that set Lebanon on a course from hope to despair was a decision about the exchange rate. Lebanon decided to fix the exchange rate of the local currency to the US dollar. While this stable exchange rate gave overseas investors certainty, Nisreen says it has been “maintained well past its healthy life.” For over two decades, the government borrowed more and more money to maintain the exchange rate, until it had burgeoning debt and defaulted on payments in 2020. From there, everything went downhill.
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.