Lebanon Daily News Brief 7/29/2021
Government Formation Talks Center on Interior Portfolio
Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati and President Michel Aoun met in Baabda today to discus Miqati’s new cabinet line-up that he submitted yesterday. [Naharnet] Reports say that the main obstacle to the formation of a government is a debate over who will get the interior portfolio. They add that Aoun has repeatedly demanded that portfolio and currently Miqati has allocated it to a Sunni official. [Naharnet]
Wildfire in Northern Lebanon Continues to Burn
The wildfire that started yesterday in northern Lebanon continued to burn today and has spread across Lebanon’s border with Syria. An estimated 500 acres of forests in the region have been destroyed so far. Firefighters and air force helicopters have been working to put out the fire and Syrian helicopters have since joined in the efforts. Lebanon’s government is calling for urgent assistance from Cyprus. [AP]
Miqati’s Priority After Government Formation is IMF Funds
Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati’s first priority after forming a government will be to resume talks with the IMF in order to unlock up to $4 billion in soft loans. To access these funds the IMF demands that a credible cabinet is formed and that the previously discussed reforms are implemented. [The Daily Star]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Economic Crisis Devastated Lebanon. Decentralized Finance Could Be the Answer
Dante writes: “As the birth of the lollar has shown, economic and institutional collapse has forced the people of Lebanon to fend for themselves, seeking out any solutions available to help overcome their harsh reality…The need for new solutions has even contributed to a “Bitcoin boom” in Lebanon, with Coindesk claiming that the Lebanese people could be moving as much as $1–$5 million in Bitcoin a month. However, accurate estimates are difficult to find. Bitcoin transactions can be slow and expensive, significantly limiting its adoption. But the underlying blockchain technology makes possible various innovations in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) that could help people in Lebanon and around the world access traditional finance and provide viable alternatives in the face of severe corruption and dire economic crisis…The crisis in Lebanon is a bleak reminder of the cost of corruption and institutional failure. As technology evolves, though, more and more alternatives will become available, helping individuals to overcome these challenges and preserve the value of their assets.”
ATFL will hold a virtual webinar on Thursday, August 5 from 11:30am to 1:00pm ET to mark the one-year anniversary of the August 4 Beirut Port explosions. The presentations will focus on four themes:
The threat of the rapidly declining socio-economic conditions on Lebanese society including the brain drain and social services;
assessing the role of the international community in bringing pressure to bear on economic and political reforms;
the status of US-Lebanon relations and challenges to building relations with a potential new government;
and lessons from post-conflict stabilization strategies in developing survival options for Lebanon as a sovereign state.
US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea and President of the Lebanese American University are among our guest speakers. Others to be determined include EU and UN officials and other Lebanon experts and advocates.
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.