Lebanon Daily News Brief 11/29/2021
Protests Over Lebanon’s Worsening Economic Conditions
On Friday protesters broke into Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and replaced a picture of President Michel Aoun with a banner that read, “revolutionaries of October 17.” [AP] Protests have continued today with demonstrations of burning tires and blocked roads in central Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon. [Reuters] Lebanon’s economic conditions continue to plague the Lebanese people while the Lebanese pound reaches a new low of LL25,000 to the dollar. [Middle East Eye]
President Aoun Visits Qatar
Today President Michel Aoun arrived in Qatar for talks with the Emir of Qatar and other officials regarding the spiraling diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Gulf countries. Aoun said he will call on Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to invest in the reconstruction of the Beirut Port and other infrastructure projects, including electricity. [AP]
Prime Minister Miqati Visits Pope Francis
On Thursday Prime Minister Najib Miqati met privately with Pope Francis for a 20-minute discussion at the Vatican. The pope told PM Miqati that “Lebanon is a country, a message, and also a promise to fight for.” [Eurasia Review]
Russia Plans Oil Storage Project at the Beirut Port
Following a meeting in Moscow between Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib and Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov, the two announced plans to implement a large project at the Beirut Port. Rosneft, a Russian company that owns a a port terminal for oil storage, will modernize and enlarge its oil product storage there. [The 961]
Australia Designates the Entire Hezbollah Organization
Australia extended its 2003 designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization from just the group’s military wing to the entire organization. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said that the group poses a “real and credible” threat to Australia and that Hezbollah “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organizations.” [Al Arabiya]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
When to Say ‘No’ to Hezbollah’s Agenda
AbiNader writes, “Hezbollah has been able, since its inception in the mid-1980s, to move from being the “resistance force” protecting Lebanon from Israel, to a fully participating actor in the political system with the capacity to bring the government to heel as its priorities dictate. One hears a query that if Lebanon would normalize relations with Israel or pass the baton on the Shebaa Farms brief to Syria, would the ‘resistance’ end and Hezbollah morph into a political force competing without the clout of a battle-hardened militia? The basic question this raises is will Hezbollah as a Lebanese entity or some hybrid that, as its Secretary General says, looks east to Iran for its raison d’être?”
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
A Transparent and Effective Cash Assistance Program: Dream or Reality?
Dagher writes, “The proposed quasi-universal cash transfer program is essential and timely, particularly in light of the dire socio-economic situation in the country. However, the program should be very carefully designed and implemented in a transparent manner so as not to be used as a medium for vote-buying. Ensuring strong oversight mechanisms and anti-corruption safeguards also provides an opportunity to regain the trust of the Lebanese and other stakeholders, which is the cornerstone of any successful economic recovery plan.”
Carnegie Middle East Center
Is the Son Setting?
Young writes, “Saad al-Hariri may yet run in elections, though the strong possibility they may not happen is surely something he has factored into his decision. Whichever way Hariri leans, it’s obvious he’s preparing for a long period in the political wilderness. Lebanon may not be the worse for it, but nor is it reassuring that Sunnis should feel that their leaders alone are the ones being eliminated from the political landscape.”
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.