Lebanon Daily News Brief 7/9/2021

Friday, July 9, 2021


Pharmacies Go on Strike in Lebanon
Today pharmacies in Lebanon went on strike in protest of significant medicine shortages after the central bank failed to pay suppliers abroad. Reports say that pharmacies along the northern coastline of Beirut and in the city’s southern suburbs have closed. Vital drugs that are needed to treat cardiac diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis are out of stock. The association of pharmacy owners say this will be an open-ended strike across Lebanon. [Al Arabiya]

Beirut Blast Investigator’s Request to Question Security Head Denied
After Judge Tarek Bitar, lead investigator of last year’s Beirut port blast, sent a request to question Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s General Security agency, caretaker Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy denied the judge’s request. [Reuters] Today Ibrahim responded in a statement saying he is “under the law” and that the investigation must “work away from narrow political calculations.” [Naharnet] Families of the blast victims protested outside where MPs were meeting to review Bitar’s request and they demanded justice and accountability. [Naharnet]

US and French Officials Meeting in Saudi Arabia to Discuss Lebanon
Yesterday US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea and French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Grillo traveled to Saudi Arabia for meetings with Saudi officials to discuss Lebanon. They held trilateral consultations to discuss Lebanon’s dire conditions, ways to help the Lebanese people, and how to stabilize Lebanon’s economy. The trilateral strategy between US, French, and Saudi counterparts seeks to pressure Lebanon’s political leaders toward forming a government that is capable of reform. The international community continues to urge Lebanese officials to put the interests of their people first. [State Press Briefing]


The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Lebanon’s Independent Electricity Regulator: Avoiding the ‘Political Economy Trap’
Ali Ahmad, Mounir Mahmalat, and Jamal Saghir

The authors write: “The looming prospect of a complete blackout in Lebanon is rare for a middle-income country. It is in this dire context that electricity sector reforms become indispensable. Chief among these reforms is the creation of an electricity regulatory authority (ERA), an independent institution tasked with regulating the sector, particularly the supervision of contracts for electricity production and distribution with private companies. In this brief, however, we argue that the present-day financial, economic, and social crises risk plunging the creation of an ERA into a ‘political economy trap.’ A hastily created ERA, established just to please the international community, can be subjected to an elusive elite-level arrangement that will likely undermine its independence and value as an impartial regulator. The institution would be held hostage to the same mechanisms of rent generation and distribution among elites that have undermined the effectiveness of many other existing regulatory authorities. That way, an ERA would ‘trap’ citizens and the international community in what would be little more than a continuation of the status quo in a more palatable institutional arrangement. Consequently, we recommend that policymakers push for the establishment of an independent ERA as part of a vision for the entire governance of the electricity sector.”

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.