Lebanon Daily News Brief 8/16/2021

Monday, August 16, 2021


Fuel Tank Explosion in Akkar
Yesterday’s fuel tank explosion in Akkar took the lives of at least 28 people and injured 79. Around 200 people were nearby when the tank exploded. Protesters blame Lebanese politicians as Lebanon’s fuel shortage continues to cause chaos at gas stations around the country. Some have called for President Michel Aoun to take responsibility and resign, including former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. [Reuters] Aoun said today that he will not resign and that he hopes a government will be formed in the next few days. [Naharnet]

AUB Hospital Close to Shutting Down Due to Fuel Shortages
Over the weekend the American University of Beirut Medical Center released a warning that it may be forced to shut down due to extreme fuel shortages. The AUBMC statement said that the lives of 55 patients dependent on respirators, including 15 children, and over 100 people on dialysis would be immediately in danger if fuel shortages caused the hospital to shut down. In its appeal, AUBMC urged the Lebanese government, the UN, and aid agencies to help. [AP] Yesterday AUBMC said the UN, WHO, the World Bank, and others stepped in and were able to supply fuel so that the hospital did not have to shut down today, and will have around a week of reserves. [AUBMC Statement]

US Ambassador Meets with Miqati and Aoun
Today US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea met with Prime Minister-designate Miqati and later President Michel Aoun to discuss the states of government formation talks. Ambassador Shea stressed the urgent need for government formation and steps toward reforms to keep Lebanon from slipping further into a humanitarian catastrophe. In her statement today she further expressed condolences over yesterday’s loss of life in Akkar. [US Embassy Beirut]


Middle East Institute
Lebanon’s upcoming allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights
Christophe Abi-Nassif

Abi-Nassif writes, “Unlike what is inaccurately reported in most Lebanese media, Lebanon’s share of the allocation is neither a grant nor a loan by the IMF. It is instead an asset that belongs to the Lebanese people. Fairly and transparently using this newfound liquidity can alleviate Lebanon’s explosive food and medical insecurity at a time when four in five Lebanese live in poverty and shortages of medication and critical medical supplies are threatening the entire health care system. Proceeds from a potential SDRs exchange can indeed help finance a targeted and direct cash transfer program to shield Lebanon’s most vulnerable citizens. The World Bank has been advocating for such a program for months and had developed a $246 million emergency social safety net project back in January. This project could be further expanded and complemented by increased, SDR-generated funding, a direction that many Lebanese civil society and diaspora organizations have been calling for given Lebanon’s rampant humanitarian disaster.”

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Carnegie Middle East Center
Enemies in the Gates
Michael Young

Young writes, “If Nasrallah knows that Lebanon is divided over the resistance, he can guess the strength of the backlash a future war with Israel might provoke. Does Hezbollah really feel it can pursue an approach in which its wars have to be fought in duplicate—one against an external enemy, first, followed by another against its domestic rivals?”

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The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Lebanon’s Crisis and UNIFIL’s Mandate Renewal
David Schenker and Assaf Orion

Schenker and Orion write, “To make UNIFIL more effective and prevent dangerous destabilization in the south, the Security Council should review the force’s mandate more frequently, reallocate its resources to better fit its mission, make reporting more transparent and accurate, and hold the government and LAF accountable for their obstruction.”

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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.