Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/23/2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021


Port of Beirut Investigation Suspended for Fourth Time
On Thursday, Judge Tarek Bitar was informed of a lawsuit submitted by lawmakers Ghazi Zeaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil – both members of the Amal Movement – which forced him to pause the probe until a ruling is issued. Several weeks earlier, Bitar called for the Khalil’s arrest. According to Agence France Presse, “the lawsuits against Bitar will inevitably delay the presentation of his findings which were previously expected by the year’s end, according to a judicial source.” [France 24]

Private Hospital Syndicate Warns of Looming Health Catastrophe, Higher Defense Council Extends General Mobilization
The Following a steep rise in COVID-19 infections on top of a limited capacity across hospitals in Lebanon, the syndicate of Private Hospital Owners issued a statement Wednesday warning that a “health catastrophe” is looming over the coming days. [L’Orient Today] The Higher Defense Council decided to continue existing measures against the spread of the virus, such as  instituting a curfew for the unvaccinated over the holiday season, making full vaccination mandatory for all public, education, health, and tourism sector employees by January 10, and extending the winter vacation for school and university students from Dec. 16 to Jan. 10. [L’Orient Today]

State Department, Embassy in Lebanon Say Detained US Citizen in Turkey Not Diplomat
“We are aware of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Turkey. The individual is not a U.S. diplomat. We are providing appropriate consular services,” a State Department official said. Istanbul police identified the person as “D.J.K.”, working at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and arrested him  last month for selling his passport to a Syrian trying en route to Germany. [Reuters]

Energy Minister: World Bank Financing for Energy Plan is ‘Progressing’
According to L’Orient Today, Energy Minister Walid Fayad and Prime Minister Najib Miqati met on Wednesday concerning the overland energy plan via Syria and, “discussed financing conditions set by the World Bank, ‘most of which are reform conditions related to the good administrative and financial continuity of Electricity of Lebanon, with the existence of a long-term plan for the sector, provided that it is implemented within the first months of the beginning of the year,’ Fayad said.” [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.”
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Economic Meltdown in Lebanon Leaves Pets Homeless
Rabih Damaj

Damaj writes, “Dr. Hosn, who runs a shelter in the Hammana area (eastern Lebanon) accommodating 550 dogs said, ‘Don’t throw your dogs out into the streets for any reason. There might be solutions to the food problem. You can mix animal food with some of your food, such as boiled vegetables with very small pieces of meat and chicken, but before adding salt and sugar. Then, add those to the animal food you have. On the one hand, the dog and cat eat healthy food, and on the other hand, you will save on buying a bag of food every month, and instead it lasts for three months.’ Securing food might be resolved using simple methods. But the big crisis is related to medical care for these animals, whether at home or in the streets. Most people who abandoned their animals did not do it because of the high cost of their food only, but because the animals got sick and they thought it best to leave them in the streets to face their fate alone.”
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Violent Beginnings: Children Growing Up in Lebanon’s Crisis

Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence against Children, emphasizes, “Lebanon’s crisis threatens the present and the future of millions of children. Ensuring their protection from abuse, harm, and violence and safeguarding their rights are needed more than ever.”

Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Lebanon Representative says, “Children’s safety and wellbeing are intricately connected to every pillar of a well-functioning society … it takes a village – food, housing, healthcare, regular schooling, thriving families and functioning social services and institutions – to help children grow up free from harm. When society begins to crumble, children are left extremely vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.”
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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.