Lebanon Daily News Brief 7/12/2020
US, French and Saudi Officials Continue Talks on Lebanon
Today the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari hosted US Ambassador Dorothy Shea and French Ambassador Anne Grillo for talks at the Saudi embassy in Beirut. The discussions centered on Lebanon’s political developments. The officials continue to stress that Lebanon needs a government that is capable of reform. [Naharnet]
PM-Designate Hariri May Submit a Cabinet Line-Up Today
Reports say that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri may submit a new cabinet line-up to President Michel Aoun today. The cabinet submission will come days before Hariri is expected to visit Cairo for talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. [Naharnet] If this last cabinet attempt does not work, Hariri reportedly will be headed toward resignation. [The 961]
Two Power Plants Shut Down in Lebanon
Two of Lebanon’s main power plants shut down on Friday after they ran out of fuel. The two stations, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, provide about 40 percent of the country’s electricity. There are two fuel shipments waiting at port to be unloaded, but Electricite Du Liban has not been able to access them because the payments have yet to be approved. EDL said, “power supply has been cut across Lebanese territories indefinitely,” and asked residents to reduce consumption. [Bloomberg]
Government Raises Bread Prices for the Seventh Time This Year
On Saturday, Lebanon’s government announced new bread prices for the seventh time this year as it continues to remove wheat subsidies. [AP] In response to the country’s currency devaluation, the government has been slowly lifting subsidies on essential goods like fuel, medicine, and wheat, in order to protect the central bank’s remaining foreign currency reserves.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
National News Agency
UK Ambassador Bids Lebanon Farewell: Forgive my bluntness, but there is something rotten at the heart of Lebanon
NNA shared UK Ambassador Martin Longden’s opinion piece as he bids farewell to Lebanon. Ambassador Longden writes, “My message, as I leave Beirut, is not just one of profound concern but also of hope. For I see in Lebanon a place which, for all of its deeply serious problems, retains incredible potential. This land of the cedars is a truly amazing country: of outstanding natural beauty – from the mountains to the sea, of a rich and diverse culture, and of a people whose hard work and creativity rivals anyone in the Middle East – and beyond. But you will only unleash this better future if you can slip the shackles of your history. And change fundamentally the way in which politics and government are done here. Lebanon today stands perhaps at its most important crossroads ever: which way will you go? Forgive my bluntness: but there is something rotten at the heart of Lebanon. The failure so far to hold anyone accountable for the disastrous port explosion last summer is just the most dramatic example of the impunity and irresponsibility that characterizes too much of Lebanese life. State institutions are subverted; special interests are protected; and Hizballah’s militia operate freely, accountable to no one but themselves. And the result? An elite enriched, as the Lebanese people lose out at every turn.”
UN Web TV
Long-lasting Peace and Justice in the Middle East
In this UN session focused on sustainable development goals in Lebanon, experts from the UN and the World Bank discuss the prospects for peace and justice in the country. Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Star Lebanon Nadim Ladki interviews guests Joanna Wronecka, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, and Kumar Jha, Regional Director of the Mashreq Department of the World Bank Group.
Fuel Shortages Are Driving Lebanon to the Brink
Cornish writes: “The fuel crisis stems from Lebanon’s currency losing over 90 per cent of its value in less than two years, and its commercial banks no longer supplying businesses with hard currency for overseas purchases. Lebanon relies on imports, so the currency crash caused runaway inflation. To stop fuel prices rocketing, the central bank subsidized exchange rate operations, using its dollar reserves. But since a banking crisis broke out in October 2019, those reserves have halved. In recent weeks, the caretaker government started to raise gas prices, a prelude to lifting costly subsidies. But because fuel is still subsidized, much is smuggled to neighboring Syria, which is also suffering shortages. More is hoarded by pump owners, hoping to profit when prices rise. Still more is stuck on tankers, waiting for dollars from the backed-up central bank before it can be unloaded. The acting energy minister encouraged Lebanese to ditch cars and take public transport. But minibuses are privately run and the state pays Railway Administration employees, but there are no trains.”
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.