Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/17/2021

Friday, December 17, 2021


IMF Responds to Lebanon’s $69 Billion Assessment of Losses, ‘Considerable Progress’
“Any strategy for dealing with these losses needs to come together, of course, with the implementation of comprehensive reforms to restore confidence, strengthen incentives for investment, enhance governance and transparency,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said. He added that this was, “critical to boost employment, sustainable growth and reduce poverty over the years ahead.” [L’Orient Today]

BDL Offers Dollars to Commercial Banks on Sayrafa Exchange
Lebanon’s Central Bank issued a circular on Thursday decreeing that it would sell U.S. dollars to commercial banks at the rate on its Sayrafa foreign exchange platform, which was 22,300 LL as of Thursday. Following the preceding week’s adjustment of the withdrawal rate from 3,900 LL to 8,000 LL for deposits denominated in US dollars, dubbed in the popular media as the ‘Lollar Rate’, this new temporary policy allows depositors to use withdrawn Lebanese pounds to buy back dollars at the 22,300 LL Sayrafa rate, effectively imposing a roughly 70% ‘haircut’ on the value of their original dollar deposit. [Reuters]

US Treasury Official Meets With The Association of Banks in Lebanon
“[US Treasury Department’s new Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson] encouraged the Lebanese banks to take stronger measures to protect the Lebanese financial system from corruption by applying firm due diligence to identifying Lebanese politically exposed persons or “PEPs” and determining their source of funds, while reminding that banks that fail to conduct adequate measures may risk sanctions,” according to a press release issued by ABL. [L’Orient Today]

UN Secretary-General to Visit Lebanon This Sunday
“At this challenging time for Lebanon, this will be a visit of solidarity during which the Secretary-General will reaffirm the support of the entire U.N. family – from our political teams and peacekeepers to our humanitarian aid workers and development professionals – for the country and its people,” according to the UN. [Naharnet]



Lebanon Continues To Leak Talent And Hope
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, What is different about the latest waves of emigration are the low levels of those wanting to leave who say they are not interested in returning. It will be illuminating to break down this data by sectarian affiliation as the number of Sunni wanting to leave is increasing which may ultimately change their demographic in Lebanon. According to the Gallup World Poll cited earlier, ‘The desire to leave Lebanon cuts across major Lebanese communities. Notably, more Muslims than Christians in Lebanon tell Gallup they would like to leave the country (67% vs. 57%). The exodus of Middle Eastern Christians from the historical cradle of Christianity has accelerated in recent decades because of conflict and instability in countries that held significant Christian populations in the not-distant past.”
Read More Here


L’Orient Today
Hezbollah And Amal Not So Anxious to Save Aoun

Yara Abi Akl, translated from French by Joelle El Khoury

Abi Aki writes, “[President Michel Aoun] squarely blamed the government’s lethargy on his main political opponent, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and on Hezbollah, his longtime ally. Through these remarks, the president has widened the gulf between himself and Hassan Nasrallah’s party, with which he has not been on good terms for several months. Disagreements between the two camps have been heard on several issues, including the Aug. 4, 2020, tragedy and the 2022 legislative elections.”
Read More Here


Fikra Forum, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
New Lebanon Poll: Sectarian Consensus Against Beirut and for Beijing

David Pollock, Carol Silber

Pollock and Silber write, A nuanced portrait also emerges from an explicitly comparative question on this topic. The survey asked about this assertion: “Our country cannot count on the U.S. these days, so we should look more to Russia or China as partners.” Among Shia, 83% agreed. But among the other two major sects, the corresponding proportions were just under half: Sunnis, 46%; Christians, 45%.”
Read More Here


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.