Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/1/2021
US Energy Envoy Says Egyptian Gas to Start Flowing in Three Months
US State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein said on Monday that natural gas from Egypt should start flowing to Lebanon in the next three months. He told CNBC he hopes it will come “long before” the 2022 parliamentary elections and that “every week that goes by I am more optimistic that we’re going to be in a position to have the gas flowing.” [CNBC]
Cabinet Meetings Remain Stalled
After Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s attempts to restart cabinet sessions, sources say “stances have not changed” concerning Shiite ministers’ position on Judge Bitar’s removal. [Naharnet] Today Miqati met with President Michel Aoun and told a journalist afterwards, “the government is functioning but the Council of Ministers is not.” [Naharnet]
Geagea Accuses Hezbollah of Working to Delay Elections
Leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea blamed Hezbollah and President Michel Aoun for efforts to delay the March 2022 parliamentary elections. He told Reuters, “they are near certain they will lose their parliamentary majority.” Hezbollah MP Ibrahim Moussawi responded saying that the party is firmly in favor of holding elections “on their scheduled constitutional dates.” President Aoun said earlier this month he would not approve of the March 27 date agreed upon by parliament, and would only accept May election dates. [Reuters]
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?”
Lebanon is Facing Two Crises. Will the New Prime Minister Survive?
Blanford writes, “The deadlock over Bitar’s fate persists, with the possibility that if he isn’t dismissed, the ministers linked to Hezbollah and Amal and an allied party, the Marada, will resign. Such a move could collapse the government, or at the very least, thwart its ability to tackle the grave economic crisis Lebanon currently endures. It could also threaten the timetable for parliamentary elections scheduled at the end of March 2022. Through its actions over the past two months, Hezbollah’s desire to remove Bitar appears to be considered a higher priority over helping the country embark on the desperately needed path to economic recovery.”
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.