Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/21/2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


Health Minister Announces Expedited Provision Plan of Pharmaceuticals
Minister of Public Health Firass Abiad announced his decision to accelerate the process of registration for imported drugs, which in turn aims to promote the overall accessibility of drugs to the Lebanese people. The Minister addressed the question of pricing, saying that the medicines should be competitive to other available brands, among other topics. [L’Orient Today]

Political Leaders Still At Odds Amid UN Chief Visit
Timour Azhari writes, “despite expressions of goodwill by [UN Secretary General] Guterres on Monday following meetings with parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Miqati, a fresh attempt to reconvene the cabinet faltered.” [Reuters] Media reports Monday pointed to an allegedly “heated” debate between Miqati and Berri – apparently involving the threat of resignations from Shiite politicians and the Prime Minister, himself – as the unofficial series of political negotiations between the two concerning the resuming of the Cabinet in exchange for ‘compromises’ over other political issues, such as the subject of Judge Bitar, continues to get them both nowhere, paralyzing the government in the meantime. [Naharnet]

Constitutional Council Has Not Yet Decided on Electoral Amendments
“Conflicting perspectives remained after seven sessions, that prolonged over three to five hours each, and we couldn’t reach a unanimous decision between the seven members. Legally, since we couldn’t reach a decision, the law passed will remain in action and the date of the elections will depend on the Ministry of Interior,” said Council Chairman Judge Tony Mashlab, after the seventh and final meeting of the body was held, concerning electoral amendments submitted by the Free Patriotic Movement to electoral law number 44 of 2017. [L’Orient Today]



Washington Awash With Middle East Policy Scenarios
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, The Baghdad Conference brought together major regional players, including Iran, to discuss common economic development opportunities and needs. The US did not participate, but agreements and accommodations emerged from evolving trust among the participants. It is a beginning, and doesn’t rely u the whims of US presidential politics which, in recent years especially, has changed significantly from administration to administration. This has been a consistent weakness in US foreign policy as it is often dependent on policy directives that are prematurely reset with the installation of new Congresses and Presidents, depending on the election cycle. On the other hand, the Abraham Accords require a continued US military presence in the region in order to fulfill its underlying Anti-Iranian platform, since the economic benefits are secondary in the policy priorities. There are credible reasons to condone a militarized US presence in the region as hard power maintains necessary pressure on parties to be supportive or face consequences. This approach, however, must be exercised with careful consideration of US credibility since no president wants to return to a ‘boots on the ground’ scenario anywhere in the Middle East.”
Read More Here


The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington
Gulf Rupture With Lebanon Exacerbates Beirut’s Economic Woes
Sussan Saikali

Saikali writes, “Many Gulf Arab governments seem increasingly averse to providing further support to a country that appears unable to undertake genuine structural reforms. And with Hezbollah’s long dominant – and increasing – political influence in the troubled Lebanese state, Gulf actors seem reluctant about immediate reengagement, a position that may not change, given the prospects for continuing Hezbollah pivotal influence. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have historically sought to secure greater influence in Lebanon, and the improving financial positions of these oil- and gas-producing states may again provide the economic means for various forms of engagement. In some ways, as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are turning away from Lebanon, Qatar seems best positioned to expand aid, although Saudi support and Emirati investment (in tandem with heavy Saudi political involvement) dwarfed previous Qatari efforts.”
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.