Lebanon Daily News brief

Wednesday, September 21, 2022
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DAILY NEWS

Secretary Blinken Meets with Caretaker PM Mikati
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Lebanon’s Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in New York City, where the two senior officials discussed the maritime border negotiations, the topic of refugees, and the US’ interests in the region. State Department spokesperson Ned Pierce said, “The Secretary emphasized the need to hold a timely presidential election in Lebanon and urged that the Prime Minister and other leaders implement key reforms needed to effect meaningful change, promote good governance, and revive Lebanon’s economy while restoring the trust of its people.” 

Read the Full Statement Here

Association of Banks in Lebanon Announces Indefinite Closure of Banks
After a series of hold-ups took place last week by disgruntled people attempting to access their own deposits, the Association of Banks in Lebanon issued a statement today announcing that the decision to close all banks will be extended indefinitely due to the absence of ‘concrete security measures’ from authorities to secure the branches. [
L’Orient Today]

IMF Publicly Critical of Lebanon’s Slow Progress on Reforms
According to AP News, “The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday said the Lebanese government’s slowness to implement desperately-needed reforms was exacerbating the country’s economic meltdown, even as officials met to discuss an urgent and long-delayed bailout. The IMF statement followed a three-day visit to Beirut of the fund’s representatives to discuss with Lebanese officials the implementation of reforms drawn up under a staff-level agreement between the two sides in April.” [AP News]

Internal Judicial Disputes Over Alternate Judge in Beirut Port Explosion Case
According to Naharnet, “A Higher Judicial Council meeting to name an alternate judge in the Beirut port blast case witnessed heated disputes that reached the extent of the withdrawal of Council chief Judge Suheil Abboud from the session, a media report said on Wednesday. The session was adjourned to September 27 in order to take a decision on six candidates proposed for the task, including Judge Samaranda Nassar, al-Liwaa newspaper reported, describing Tuesday’s meeting as the longest in the Council’s history.” [Naharnet]

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Taking Cash In Hand – Are There Any Options?
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Lebanese are doing the inevitable: holding up banks to get their funds. In the latest of eight incidents, the person is now on strike within the bank branch having turned in his weapon. The story is a familiar one. With the onset of the current financial crisis in 2019, banks issued informal capital controls to limit the depositors’ access to their dollar accounts. Withdrawals in dollars or Lebanese currency are limited, which effectively means that as the devaluation of the Lebanese currency continues, the depositor gets a free haircut that is not so free considering there are few constraints on how the banks act. A haircut refers to the depreciation in the value of the money being held due to a loss of value in the currency. Although this is part of the larger issue of the national debt crisis, the lack of a capital controls law has disabled options for those whose savings are in the banks. Legal recourses do not exist. The banking association has not faced up to the reality that its sector is broken. And the depositors are forming organizations to fight for their access.”

Read More Here

Reuters
On the run, Lebanese woman who stole own savings says she’s not the criminal

Timour Azhari and Emilie Madi

Azhari and Madi write, “On the run from authorities after forcing a bank to release her family savings at gunpoint to treat her cancer-stricken sister, 28-year-old Lebanese interior designer Sali Hafiz insists she is not the criminal. ‘We are in the country of mafias. If you are not a wolf, the wolves will eat you,’ she told Reuters, standing on a dirt track somewhere in Lebanon’s rugged eastern Bekaa valley where she has since been in hiding.”

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.