Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/12/2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Legal Complaints Against Bitar Suspend the Investigation
On Monday Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah criticized the lead investigator of the Beirut Port blast Judge Tarek Bitar and called on authorities to replace him with a “truthful and transparent” investigator. Nasrallah accused Bitar of politicizing the investigation and targeting Hezbollah allies. [AP] Since then, two former ministers’ legal complaints have resulted in the suspension of Bitar’s investigation for the second time in less than a month. The former ministers that filed the lawsuits had been scheduled for questioning by Bitar. [Reuters]

Food Prices Increase as Fuel Subsidies Lift
As Lebanon increasingly faces electricity blackouts, the country’s food crisis is worsening. Fuel subsidies are being gradually lifted resulting in increased food prices, for example, bread prices were raised this week for the sixth time this year. In April the World Food Program assisted one in six people in Lebanon with food, but now since the fuel crisis they say they support one in four. [Al Jazeera]

Zahrani Oil Storage Tank Caught Fire
Over the weekend Lebanon faced a state-wide black out that lasted a full day when the Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants ran out of fuel. After the Lebanese army provided emergency fuel, the electricity grid came back on Sunday. However the emergency supplies are expected to only last a few days thus the central bank has released $100 million for fuel imports. [New York Times] Yesterday an oil storage tank caught fire when gasoline was being transferred from one tank to another in Zahrani. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze after 66,000 gallons of gasoline burnt out. [AP]


Latest NDI Poll Results Show 45% of Lebanese Don’t Intend to Vote in 2022
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “A key instrument of change that is mentioned in any analysis of Lebanon’s current set of crises and prospects for recovery is the holding of free and fair elections. With the recent rescheduling of the upcoming 2022 elections, shifted from early May to late March, there is an even greater sense of déjà vu that the results will maintain the status quo and not auger a better future for Lebanon. In fact, one analyst suggested that the March date was chosen to thwart an unfavorable shifting in voter registrations, due to take place on March 31. There are many initiatives going on at the same time. Opposition groups are working on a common strategy; old line parties are angling to produce joint lists in order to frustrate the opposition; and indicators show that most people perceive the elections, under the current leadership and system, to be a waste of time.”

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Human Rights Watch
Lebanon: Planning Lapses Endanger School Year

Human Rights Watch warns that Lebanon’s education system is at risk of collapse. HRW suggests that international donors channel aid more directly to schools, teachers, and school-children’s families. Researcher Aya Majzoub said, “The Lebanese government is abandoning schools, teachers, and parents to muddle through the acute economic crisis and the pandemic on their own, exacerbating the inequalities between the few children whose parents can afford a quality education and the many who cannot. There needs to be an all-hands-on-deck response from the government, donors, and the UN to avert a disaster for children and the country.”

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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.