Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/18/2021

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


Demonstrators Mark Two-Year Anniversary of October 17 Protests
After last week’s violent clashes in Beirut, the streets of Lebanon’s capital remained relatively quiet yesterday on the two-year anniversary of the October 17 protests. Still dozens of protesters marched toward Martyrs’ Square in a symbolic stand for change. The mass protests in 2019 gathered Lebanese across all sects who called for an overthrow of the political elite. Those that demonstrated today are hoping for change in the 2022 parliamentary elections. [Al Arabiya]

Prime Minister Miqati Delays Cabinet Session Until Finding Solution
Prime Minister Najib Miqati said that he has no intentions to resign after last week’s violence. He said that he will not call for a cabinet sessions until there is “a solution to the problem,” noting that he did not want to provoke any party. Regarding the judiciary, Miqati stated he will not interfere in the work of the judges. [Naharnet]

Families of Beirut Blast Victims Reaffirm Support for Judge Bitar
Over the weekend families of the victims of the Beirut Port explosion expressed their support for Judge Tarek Bitar’s investigation in a counter-effort to Hezbollah’s calls for the judge’s resignation. The families’ statement was given after their spokesman unexpectedly released a video calling for Bitar to step down. The families say they have put their “faith in the investigative judge Tarek Bitar.” [AP]


Washington Post
Lebanon’s People Face a Deadly False Choice: Impunity or Chaos
Mohamad Bazzi

Bazzi writes, “By targeting members of the political elite, Bitar poses an unprecedented threat to Lebanon’s post-civil war order built on amnesty and amnesia. He is seeking accountability in a country plagued by political interference that undermines the judicial system…Today, the Lebanese are being offered a choice by the ruling parties and ex-warlords that have devastated their country: Forget accountability for the port explosion or risk all-out conflict on the streets. But this has been Lebanon’s false choice — between impunity and chaos — since the end of the civil war. The Lebanese compromised on accountability three decades ago, and yet their rulers have consistently failed to provide stability.”

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Carnegie Middle East Center
An Investigation in Lebanon Has Led to Armed Clashes Reminiscent of the Civil War
Michael Young

Young writes, “A major problem is that Hezbollah is now acting as the supreme authority in Lebanon, when it has no legitimacy to do so. In a profoundly sectarian context, in which diverse communities regard the efforts by one religious group to impose its hegemony as an existential threat, this can be perilous. The Sunnis made that mistake in 1975–1976, as did the Maronites in 1982–1984. Moreover, Hezbollah is the proxy of an outside power with scant consideration for Lebanon’s complicated and volatile sectarian system. Unless the party addresses its sectarian isolation, lowers tensions with the other communities, and allows the state to revive itself economically, the country’s already unstable peace will disintegrate even more.”

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Arab News
Is Lebanon on Verge of Another Civil War?
Dr. Danila Koleilant Khatib

Khatib writes, “Ultimately, this traumatic episode in the current crisis is unlikely to lead to a civil war. However, what does actually happen next will depend greatly on what concessions Hezbollah is willing to make to ensure its survival. Is it willing to accept the investigation and sacrifice one or two of its high-ranking members if it means it continues to hold a seat at the table of power? We shall see.”

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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.