Lebanon Daily News Brief 10/4/2021

Monday, October 4, 2021


Lebanon Announces the Resumption of IMF Talks
Today Lebanon’s Finance Ministry announced that it has resumed talks with the International Monetary Fund. It said that will seek a “fair and comprehensive” solution for its creditors and that Lebanon “remains fully committed to engage in a constructive, transparent and equitable debt restructuring process.” [Bloomberg]

Court Rejects Lawsuits Against Bitar
This morning Lebanon’s Court of Cassation rejected lawsuits filed against the lead investigator of the Beirut Port blast, Judge Tarek Bitar. Three former ministers, who had been called in for questioning by Bitar, filed the complaints and requested the judge’s removal. The lawsuits caused the suspension of Bitar’s investigation until the court made a decision. [AP]

Special Tribunal Prosecutors Seek to Appeal Last Year’s Acquittals in Hariri Assassination Case
Prosecutors are seeking to overturn the acquittal of two men over the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Today they said there were “fundamental errors” in the decision and that the lower chamber judges did not properly assess circumstantial evidence in the case. The prosecutors are seeking to convict on appeal the two men who were acquitted last year. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled to last five days. [Reuters]

US State Department Envoy Appointed Maritime Border Mediator
US and Israeli officials reportedly told news outlet Axios that the US State Department’s energy envoy, Amos Hochstein, will serve as the new mediator in maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel. [Axios]

UN Warns of Extreme Poverty and Urges Reforms
Last Friday UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi warned of a “living nightmare” and that Lebanon’s most vulnerable face suffering and distress as a result of the country’s economic crisis. The UN estimates that more than one million Lebanese need assistance to cover their most basic needs, including food. Rochdi emphasized that humanitarian action is meant to be a short-term fix and is not sustainable. She said Lebanon’s future depends on the political will to reform the economy. [Al Jazeera]


Carnegie Middle East Center
Pivoting Away From America
Michael Young

Young writes, “While the headlines are that the plan would supply a suffering Lebanon with gas, the real story is that Egypt and Jordan are looking for ways to reintegrate Syria into the Arab fold, using Lebanon as a hook to do so. It seems increasingly apparent that what some in Washington are portraying as a Biden administration effort to lean in the direction of the Assad regime and Iran, may actually be more significant: an effort by Arab states to use openings toward Syria and Lebanon to challenge Iran’s sway in both countries and turn them into places where the Arabs can bargain with Tehran…In the absence of a United States acting as a Middle Eastern regulator, Arab states are accumulating cards to play power games of their own at the regional level. The debate in Washington remains insular, focused on how an administration in office acts and what this means domestically, but in the Middle East the regimes are imposing a new playbook. ”

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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.