Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/27/2021

Monday, September 27, 2021


Bitar’s Probe Frozen While Requests for Removal Are Reviewed
Former ministers Nouhad al-Mashnouq and Youssef Fenianos filed requests to remove Judge Tarek Bitar from the Beirut Port blast investigation. Bitar’s probe is now frozen while the Court of Cassation reviews the requests. [Naharnet] Both al-Mashnouq and Fenianos had been called in for questioning by Bitar but did not show up. Their requests question Bitar’s neutrality. [The Daily Star] Bitar was also threatened by Hezbollah’s head of Internal Security. On Wednesday, a protest is scheduled in Beirut support of Bitar and his work. [The 961]

Aoun Chairs Meeting to Discuss IMF Negotiations
Today President Michel Aoun led a meeting to discuss negotiations with the IMF. Prime Minister Miqati, Deputy PM Saadeh al-Shami and the Finance and Economy ministers attended. [Naharnet]

Macron Urges Reforms and IMF Talks
During Prime Minister Miqati’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last Friday, Macron urged him to implement urgent reform measures and to move forward with IMF negotiations. Macron announced France’s continued support for Lebanon and emphasized the opportunity the new Miqati government has to “push ahead on the reforms path.” [Reuters]

Aoun at the UN General Assembly
At the UN General Assembly on Friday President Michel Aoun told the international community that Lebanon is relying on it for funding to “revive the economic cycle and create new job opportunities.” He added that the new government shows Lebanon has entered a new phase and that international support is needed to achieve its goals. [Reuters]


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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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.