Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/16/2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021


Iranian Fuel Arrives in Lebanon
In a deal brokered by Hezbollah, the first shipment of Iranian fuel arrived in Lebanon today. After the vessel docked in Syria, the shipment was trucked in to Lebanon by two convoys across the border. Hezbollah says three more vessels of Iranian fuel will arrive in Syria soon. [Al Jazeera]

Judge Bitar Issues Arrest Warrant for Former Minister
The lead judge of Lebanon’s domestic investigation into last year’s Beirut Port blast has issued an arrest warrant for a former government minister. Former public works minister Youssef Fenianos had failed to appear for questioning, leading to the arrest warrant issued by Judge Tarek Bitar. Bitar charged Fenianos and three other senior officials with intentional killing and negligence that led to the deadly port blast. [AP]

EU Parliament Calls for Continued Threat of Sanctions
Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the threat of sanctions on Lebanese officials are no longer needed because Lebanon has formed a government. EU parliament members are responding with calls for sanctions on Lebanese officials should they obstruct the progress of the newly formed government. No names have been identified, but the EU parliament hopes the threat of sanctions will keep politicians focused on addressing Lebanon’s crises. [Reuters]


Financial Times
Shifting Geopolitics Offer Glimmer of Hope for Lebanon’s New Government
David Gardner

Gardner writes, “If the politics are the same, the geopolitics may be changing somewhat. France has been lobbying for a government of independents for a year, but recently President Emmanuel Macron targeted Iran, calling the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi directly. Once Tehran assented to the new government, Hizbollah, its Lebanese paramilitary proxy, followed and, as a de facto parallel state, ensured the support of its Christian allies, headed by Michel Aoun, the president who had vetoed various cabinets. This looks to be part of a pattern after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and its gradual pullback from Syria and Iraq. Regional actors from Iran to Saudi Arabia are exploring de-escalation. If that progresses, countries like Lebanon, arenas of deadly competing influences, might just benefit.” 

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The National
Lebanon Finally Has a Government, But Gebran Bassil Remains In Its Way
Michael Young

Young writes, “It took over a year for Lebanon’s political class to form a government, but many Lebanese are not sure whether to celebrate, even if most will admit that a continuation of the political vacuum was no longer tenable. But under the best of circumstances, Najib Mikati’s government will face multiple difficulties…Politically, Mr Mikati will have to deal with the political ambitions of Gebran Bassil…While Mr Mikati was unwilling to form a government that would have given the President and his son in law effective veto power, he accepted a compromise on two Christian ministers named outside of Mr Aoun’s and Mr Bassil’s quota. The ministers were chosen in agreement by Mr Aoun and Mr Mikati. This may create problems. While the two ministers are on good terms with both the President and Prime Minister, if they were to side with Mr Aoun in the future, that could give him and Mr Bassil the leverage they need to advance Mr Bassil’s interests, thereby undermining all Cabinet cohesion to Mr Mikati’s disadvantage.”

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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.