Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/15/2021

Friday, October 15, 2021


Lebanon Observes Day of Mourning
After yesterday’s violent clashes in Beirut that took the lives of six people, Lebanon is observing a day of mourning. Schools and business are closed and Beirut streets are quiet in preparations for funerals for the lives lost. [NY Times] Thursday’s protests were initiated by Hezbollah and Amal groups that urged for Judge Tarek Bitar’s removal from the Beirut Port blast investigation. [AP] Today the Lebanese Judge Association announced that it will no longer accept requests to remove Bitar from his position, stressing the need for judicial independence. [The 961] In an interview yesterday Prime Minister Miqati said it is not the job of politicians to interfere in the judiciary. [Reuters]

International Community Responds to Beirut Clashes
The US State Department called for a deescalation of tensions in response to yesterday’s violent clashes in Beirut and emphasized its support for Lebanon’s judicial independence, stating judges “must be free from intimidation, including that of Hezbollah.” [US State Dept] The White House reiterated these statements and urged Lebanese authorities to complete a “swift and transparent” investigation to Beirut Port explosion. [White House] The EU urged similar sentiments calling for the “utmost restraint to avoid further senseless loss of life.” [Naharnet] Moscow also called on all sides to “show restraint” and noted its concerns about growing political tensions in Lebanon. [Naharnet]

Former Prime Ministers Call For International Investigation
In a joint statement released today, former Prime Ministers Fouad Saniora, Saad Hariri, and Tammam Salam condemned yesterday’s clashes and called on Lebanon’s parliament to lift immunities on officials in the Beirut Port investigation. They further requested an international or Arab-led probe into the port blast. [Naharnet]


Carnegie Middle East Center
Kingdom Come
Michael Young

Young writes, “The maximalist Saudi position with regard to Lebanon is not only a case of political opportunity cost, it is creating a situation that is only bolstering Hezbollah’s and Iran’s hegemony. What is most disturbing is that such an approach hews closely to the line of conservative politicians and think tanks in Washington, who cannot see that their harsh recommendations for Lebanon will lead to the very outcomes they purportedly want to avoid. Politics is about acquiring leverage, not killing the baby. Lebanon’s ties to Saudi Arabia are essential, but Riyadh should recognize that the best way of making this clear is to compel Iran and Hezbollah to give the kingdom a seat at the table.”

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Middle East Institute
Lebanon’s Power Grid Shuts Down
Jessica Obeid

Obeid writes, “The power sector’s woes are bound to worsen with every passing day, creating a growing economic and humanitarian crisis. Urgent action toward a sustainable solution is needed. The latter, however, cannot take place in an environment of vested interests and political interference. The new government has assumed tremendous responsibility and its actions to address the long-standing problems in the power sector, or lack thereof, will be one of its biggest tests.”

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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.