Lebanon Daily News Brief 8/23/2021

Monday, August 23, 2021


Lebanon’s Government Reduces Fuel Subsidies
Over the weekend at an emergency meeting Lebanon’s government decided to raise fuel prices in an effort to reduce fuel subsides. The new exchange rate does not completely remove subsidies, but raises the price from 3,900 pounds to the dollar to 8,000 pounds to the dollar. The unofficial market rate is closer to 20,000 pounds to the dollar. [Al Jazeera]

Nasrallah Says Another Vessel of Iranian Fuel to Set Sail Soon
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday that another ship carrying Iranian fuel will set sail from Iran to Lebanon shortly. Last week he announced that the first ship would would set sail Thursday night, and the group says it already has. Political opponents have expressed concern over the consequences of receiving Iranian fuel, saying that it puts Lebanon at risk of sanctions. [Reuters]

Hospitals Run Low on Fuel, Medicine, and Staff
Hospitals in Lebanon are running low on fuel, medicine, and staff. This year at least 2,500 doctors and nurses have left Lebanon over the country’s dire conditions. With major power cuts, hospitals have had to rely more on generators, which they struggle to keep on amid severe fuel shortages. Hospitals are also running low on medicines, including those critical for cancer patients and dialysis. Amid deteriorating conditions and another COVID-19 surge, Lebanon’s hospitals are reaching a breaking point. [AP]

UNICEF Warns Lebanese Are Losing Access to Clean Water
UNICEF warned in a statement recently that 4 million Lebanese might lose access to clean water if immediate action is not taken. The statement said that a number of hospitals have already lost access and have had to use contaminated water. In July, UNICEF warned of the possibility that 71 percent could lose access to clean water by the end of summer. [The 961]


Middle East Institute
Hezbollah, American, and the race to supply Lebanon with power
Christophe Abi-Nassif and Jessica Obeid

Abi-Nassif and Obeid write, “By striking first, Nasrallah has forced the United States into reactive diplomacy mode and left Washington with two inconvenient and awkward options. Because of the magnitude of Lebanon’s humanitarian disaster and the Lebanese government’s inability to get its act together to resolve the fuel shortages, the U.S. may choose to overlook the alleged fuel imports. Regardless of whether the ships dock in Lebanon (serious) or Syria (less serious), this option risks making the U.S. seem inconsistent and in violation of its own rules of imposing sanctions on countries that deal with Iran. Alternatively, Washington could press forward with imposing sanctions on Lebanon. By doing so, however, it would reinforce the conspiracy theory, espoused by Hezbollah and embraced by the Free Patriotic Movement, that Lebanon’s woes are a direct result of a U.S.-led economic embargo on the country. The two options assume that events such as Israeli military action or sabotage — factors that Nasrallah warned against as part of Hezbollah’s deterrence equation — will not take place.”

Read more here

Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal
The Blast
Eveline Hitti

Hitti writes, “Across the city that night, medical teams had put aside their own loss and fears, gallantly hurling themselves into action. Demolished hospitals were evacuated. Flooded EDs were emptied. Operating rooms ran without reprieve. Decisions were made amidst unimaginable constraints. Physical wounds were closed, and moral ones opened. Today, almost six months post-Blast, the scars on my colleagues’ faces are barely noticeable. The displaced doors of our ED are back up on their hinges. The glass panes of my house have been replaced. Our passports are tucked back in the reachable safety of my bedroom drawers. While some wounds heal, others remain painfully visible. Resignations sit on my desk, leaving the line of medical teams facing the now raging pandemic thinned out and weary. For many, distance is the path to recovery. For others, it is clawing on to the promise of meaningful service in the land they were forced to leave once before.”

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.