Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/26/2021
PM Miqati Hopes Cabinet Meetings will Resume Soon
Prime Minister Najib Miqati expressed hope today that cabinet meetings would resume soon. The meetings have been on pause following this month’s violent clashes in Beirut over Judge Tarek Bitar’s port investigation. [Reuters] Since then, Lebanon’s government has remained paralyzed while Hezbollah and Amal officials call for Bitar’s removal. [France 24]
President Aoun Urges IMF Negotiations
Today President Michel Aoun urged the resumption of cabinet sessions under Prime Minister Miqati’s government in order to move ahead with IMF negotiations and come to a funding agreement. Aoun has supported the continuation of the Beirut Port investigation and rejected any political interference in the judiciary. [Al Arabiya] He added that despite recurring disruptions, “there is no going back to civil war in Lebanon.” [Naharnet]
President Aoun Sends Electoral Amendment Back
Last week Lebanon’s parliament voted to hold elections on March 27, but at the end of the week President Michel Aoun sent the amendment on election rules back to parliament for reconsideration. Aoun said in a statement, “shortening the constitutional deadline that comes ahead of the elections exposes the electoral process to the voters absence due to climate and logistical reasons.” [Al Arabiya]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Is It Even Possible to Segment the Lebanon/Syria Files?
AbiNader writes, “Why are Iranian shipments [of fuel] needed since US partners in the Gulf have more than enough export capacity to take care of Lebanon’s needs? Our diplomatic efforts with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait should have taken precedence over a pipeline deal that raises sanctions issues and won’t be viable until the end of the year. So what happened, and why isn’t Lebanon supported by its fellow Arabs to counter Iran’s ploy to give Hezbollah bragging rights? This is just another indicator that without a regional strategy and country-specific game plans, the understaffed and under-resourced State Department will not be able to keep up with the twists and turns affecting our interests.”
The Judge Leading Beirut Blast Probe: Discreet and Defiant
Sarah El Deeb and Bassem Mroue
Deeb and Mroue write, “At first, suspected officials took cover behind parliamentary or professional immunity, declining to appear before him. They accused him of singling out some officials and not others, in an apparent attempt to stoke sectarian grudges in a country divided along sectarian lines. Then they sued him and tried to discredit him, saying he showed bias and was allied with foreign powers. Hatem Madi, a veteran judge and prosecutor, said he never before witnessed such a standoff between the political class and the judiciary. The new government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati is already in a deadlock over how to respond to calls for removal of Bitar. Meanwhile, Bitar has not backed down, reissuing his summonses to senior officials. He now moves around with guards. The judge has been open to visitors and questions about the legal process, but he is careful not to divulge his next moves, the legal expert said.”
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.