Lebanon Daily News Brief 8/18/2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Daily News

Transformer Explosion in Beirut’s Electricity Grid
Last night the main transformer in Beirut’s electricity gird exploded in the Tariq al-Jadida neighborhood. Authorities called for residents to evacuate over concerns of another explosion while crews worked to quickly put out the residual flames and prevented the fire from reaching nearby fuel tanks and gas storage. No injuries were reported. [Al Arabiya]

Families Lay Victims of Akkar Fuel Explosion to Rest
Today families laid to rest the victims of the fuel tank blast in Akkar that killed 28 people and injured 80 on Sunday. Among the victims were soldiers and Akkar residents who were trying to get gasoline while Lebanon faces severe fuel shortages. [Naharnet] Parliament will meet on Friday to discuss the Central Bank’s recent decision to halt fuel subsidies. [Reuters]

Draft Cabinet Line-Up Circulates Media
Reports say Prime Minister-designate Miqati and President Michel Aoun may be close to an agreement on the new cabinet line-up and a draft list of names for the 24-seat cabinet is being circulated. [Naharnet] Another report says last-minute “horse trading” over key ministerial seats is causing further delay to the formation of a new government. Candidates for interior, energy, justice, and foreign affairs are said to still be in flux. [The Daily Star]


Middle East Institute
“We will go to your homes and burn you there”: Akkar explosion compounds tragedy and public anger in Lebanon
Christophe Abi-Nassif

Abi-Nassif writes, “The Tleil tragedy leaves us with four alarming signals and takeaways. First, the humanitarian disaster in Lebanon is no longer at the door. It’s in the middle of the house…Second, desertions in the ranks of Lebanese security forces may intensify in the weeks ahead, accelerating a trend that began months ago. Because of their deployment in the area to distribute the seized fuel, many Lebanese army soldiers were among the victims of the explosion…Third, sectarian rhetoric continues to escalate. In addition to deliberate political inaction, Lebanese political leaders are upping the tone of sectarian discourse and exchanging blame for the Tleil disaster, among others…Finally, amid the total collapse of state institutions and an impotent judiciary, Lebanese citizens are growing tired and desperate of the unmitigated and multifaceted crisis. Many broke into a Akkar politician’s house in the aftermath of the incident. Others continue to intercept fuel trucks — many of which are on their way to Syria — and distribute their loads to citizens. The slide toward violence in the country is palpable. ”

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Arab American Institute
The Lebanon I Love is Dying
Dr. James J. Zogby

Zogby writes, “I recall Gibran’s love poem to Lebanon as I see horrors that even he could not have imagined: widespread poverty; corrupt, feudal, sectarian elites dancing on the grave of the country in a vain effort to sustain their privileged roles; and an armed militia functioning as a state within a state — willing to use force to maintain its position. In the future, I want to write about the political situation in Lebanon. For now, I just want to remember what there is to love about the Lebanon that was (and I hope will be again) and damn those who are hell-bent on burying it.”

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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.