Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/24/2021

Friday, September 24, 2021


Another Former Minister Files Request to Remove Judge Bitar
Today former interior minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq filed a request to remove Judge Tarek Bitar from the Beirut Port investigation. On Wednesday, former minister of public works Youssef Fenianos filed a similar request on the grounds of “legitimate suspicion.” Both al-Mashnouq and Fenianos had been charged and called in for questioning by Bitar over the Port blast. Human Rights Watch research Aya Majzoub says, “It is outrageous that Lebanese politicians think they can just replace a judge every time he tries to hold them accountable until one is appointed that is to their liking.” [Naharnet]

Hezbollah Announces Second Fuel Shipment
Today Hezbollah announced the arrival of a second Iranian fuel ship to Syria. The fuel is expected to follow the path of the first fuel delivery by trucking the fuel from Syria’s port across the border to Lebanon. [Reuters] Analysts say this is a PR stunt for the group, and can’t even be considered a “band-aid solution” as the fuel delivered so far was enough to only last a few days. [Washington Post] Lebanon’s state electricity company said yesterday that the country is on the brink of a total blackout by the end of this month. [Reuters] Today UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi announced the start of fuel deliveries to critical healthcare and water institutions across Lebanon in an effort led by the World Food Program. [Naharnet]

Lebanese Entrepreneur Makes the Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World List
Christopher Arida, a Lebanese entrepreneur and environmental activist, has been named on the 2021 Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World list. He is the first Lebanese to make it on the “TOYP” list. The program honors ten young people for their expertise and display of leadership and the winners are determined by public voting. [The 961]


Who Pays? Lebanon Faces Tough Questions in IMF Bailout Bid
Tom Perry and Maha El Dahan

Perry and El Dahan write, “In its bid for IMF support, Lebanon must address a question it has evaded since the economy imploded two years ago: how should it distribute the huge losses caused by its financial collapse? Till now, the answer has been brutally simple: ordinary Lebanese have paid the price as they watched savings evaporate, the currency crumble and basic goods disappear from the shelves. When a plan was drawn up last year that identified a $90 billion hole in the financial system, it was shot down by banks which complained it made them foot too much of the bill and by the ruling elite who had driven Lebanon into its crisis. Since then, Lebanon has sunk deeper into trouble with no plan and no government until its fractious sectarian politicians ended a year of bickering and agreed a new cabinet this month. The new prime minister, billionaire tycoon Najib Mikati, and his government need to acknowledge the scale of losses and work out how to share them out to deliver on a promise to secure International Monetary Fund assistance with economic reforms.”

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AP News
Mideast in Shambles, But the World Has Moved on For Now
Zeina Karam

Karam writes, “There was a time not long ago when uprisings and wars in the Arab world topped the agenda at the UN General Assembly meetings in New York. With most of those conflicts in a stalemate, the world’s focus has shifted to more daunting global challenges such as the still raging coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as new crises in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. But the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated significantly in more countries and in more ways in the last two years. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are teetering on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe, with skyrocketing poverty and an economic implosion that threatens to throw the region into even deeper turmoil.”

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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.