Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/8/2021

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


Human Rights Groups Call for American Journalist’s Release
On November 16, American journalist Nada Homsi was arrested after General Security officers raided her home without a judicial order. [Al Jazeera] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling on Lebanon’s General Security to immediately release Homsi and to “promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently, and effectively investigate the due process violations she faced since her arrest, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible.” [HRW]

Energy Minister Fayyad Invited to France to Discuss Gas Exploration
Following a meeting with President Michel Aoun on Wednesday, Energy Minister Walid Fayyad in a press conference shared his intention to discuss gas exploration in an upcoming visit with French multinational oil and gas companies like Total as well as others others. “Concerning the import of gas and electricity from Jordan through Syria,” Fayyad said that, “the contract is ready and will be signed in the coming days.” [Naharnet]

In-Depth: Economic Crisis Hits Elderly Lebanese Population Hard
According to the International Labor Organization, cited by Al-Monitor, Lebanon has per capita the highest number of elders in the region but is among the sixteen countries in the world that does not offer social security. This has severely challenged Lebanon’s +65 population, 80% of whom have no health care coverage. “Few Lebanese get a retirement pension when they are forced to stop working at 65. Those in the public sector get a small income and they have medical coverage,” said Maya Ibrahimchah, the founder of NGO Beit El Baraka.” [Al-Monitor]


Economic Bits of Interest
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “I am an avid reader of ‘Lebanon This Week,’ a weekly, English-language report published by the Byblos Bank Economic Research and Analysis Department headed by our colleague Nassib Ghobril…There are several items of interest from the November 27, 2021 edition that are worth sharing and analyzing, given what it tells us about the state of ‘resilience’ in the Lebanese economy and whether or not that descriptor is even appropriate. The first note comes from the Milken Institute’s Global Opportunities Index (GOI) which identified the investment climate in 143 countries to help foreign investors decide on where to place their money. In 2021, Lebanon has slid down 19 places, from 87th to 106th worldwide, as well as down two places among Arab countries, now in 10th place…”

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Diwan, Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center
A Jihadi Resurrection?
Mohanad Hage Ali

Hage Ali writes, “An Islamic State resurgence in Lebanon would also be convenient for the Lebanese political class, in three ways. First, any violence would justify postponing the parliamentary elections next year and decrease international pressure to organize them on time. This would help Hezbollah and its allies maintain their current majority in parliament for longer than the four-year term. Second, the political class would expect more regional and international aid to combat the Islamic State, without having to introduce reforms and meet the conditions of international donors. And third, an Islamic State revival and any ensuing violence would help realign the population behind the country’s sectarian leaderships and sectarian politics in general. This would further undermine any impulse for change in the country.”

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The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Lebanon Stands at a Crossroad Between a Painful Revival and a Complete Submission to Iran
Hanin Ghaddar

Ghaddar writes, “Lebanon is paralyzed in the midst of these challenges facing Hezbollah, which will not allow any reforms, elections, or financial restructuring until the Iran-backed organization resolves its own challenges and finds a way to protect its power and maintain the status quo. This means that focusing on reforms at this point without tackling the political factors hindering it is a waste of time.”

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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.