Lebanon Daily News Brief 7/2/2021
Lebanese Judge Pursues Top Officials in Beirut Port Investigation
Today Judge Tarek Bitar, the Lebanese judge leading the Beirut port blast investigation, announced he would pursue top politicians and former and current security officials in his investigation. He has summoned caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab for questioning and asked the government for permission to question the head of General Security Directorate Abbas Ibrahim and the head of State Security Tony Saliba. He further requested parliament to remove immunity from two legislators that were previously charged. [AP]
Pope Francis Urges Political Leaders to Put Aside Their Own Interests
Yesterday, the Vatican hosted a summit with Lebanese Christian leaders including representatives of the Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Protestant churches. [Reuters] During the summit Pope Francis urged Lebanon’s political leaders to work towards stability by putting aside partisan interests. He said, “Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of the many! No more letting half-truths continue to frustrate people’s aspirations.” [Reuters]
UN Special Coordinator Calls for Elections to Be Held on Time
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka urged Lebanon to hold the 2022 general elections on time. She said, “We perceive elections as a choice but also for the people; it’s an opportunity to hold elected representatives accountable.” Wronecka succeed Jan Kubis as UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon in June. [The Daily Star]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
A Currency Board Would Bring Lebanon Back From the Dead
Peter J. Tanous
Tanous writes: “With a currency board, the Lebanese pound would be backed 100 percent by an anchor currency, such as the U.S. dollar, and be freely convertible into its anchor currency at an absolutely fixed rate of exchange. Currency boards have proven successful in other distressed countries, where they have stopped hyperinflations and established stability. Indeed, a currency board in Lebanon is just what the doctor ordered. A stable, convertible currency would attract foreign capital — especially from thriving Lebanese expat entrepreneurs — revitalize the private sector, and revive GDP growth. Renewed growth based on a sound currency offers the prospects of reopening the debt markets for Lebanon and clawing back part of bank depositors’ losses. It would also ensure that the LAF is adequately financed and could support the families of its soldiers.”
Building a Better Lebanon
Yesterday the Wilson Center hosted a virtual launch event for its new report, “Building a Better Lebanon,” which explores the best way out of Lebanon’s crises. Against a backgrop of weak institutional capacity and growing instability, the co-authors argue that any reform program for Lebanon should be simple, transparent, and most importantly managed by a credible government of reform.
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.