Lebanon Daily News Brief 9/29/2021

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


Protesters Support Judge Bitar’s Investigation
Today around 300 protesters gathered outside of the Justice Palace in Beirut in support of Judge Tarek Bitar’s investigation of the Beirut Port blast. After two former ministers filed requests to remove Bitar, the domestic probe was suspended on Monday until the Court of Cassation makes a decision. Earlier this summer the two former ministers who filed the requests were called in for questioning by Bitar but did not show up. Protesters held up pictures of their loved ones lost to the Beirut explosion. They protested against the suspension of the investigation and said it is the “last opportunity for accountability.” [Al Jazeera]

Banks and Financial Officials Discuss Losses From Economic Collapse
Lebanon’s economy minister said today that the country’s banking sector, central bank, and other players are working in “harmony” to get to an agreement on the size of sustained losses during Lebanon’s economic crisis. Coming to an agreement on this is critical to IMF talks. Last year, disagreement over the scales of the losses and how they should be distributed contributed to the break down of IMF talks. [Reuters]

UN Report Warns of Dire Conditions for Syrian Refugees
In a report produced by the UN’s refugee agency, World Food Program, and children’s agency, the contributors warned that more than 1 million Syrian refugees are in dire conditions and that nine out of ten are in extreme poverty. It added that the cost of an essential food basket has increased more than seven time since 2019. [AP]


Assist ISF and LAF Families in These Desperate Times
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “There is no way to ignore the sword of Damocles hanging over the security services in Lebanon. It is shocking but true that deficits for both the ISF and LAF exceed 90% in the current budget. This affects everything from salaries and health services, to food supplies, operations, and staffing. At a program in Beirut on September 22, General Joseph Aoun, Commander of the LAF, Major General Imad Osman, Commander of the ISF, and US Ambassador Dorothy Shea addressed the difficulties facing the troops and their families…Together we are committed to raising funds to support the families of the LAF and ISF who are under severe pressure as a result of the erosion of the Lebanese currency, economy, and essential supplies. Not only does the deficit impact their livelihoods, but it reduces their effectiveness and operational readiness as they have had to cut back funds allocated to operations and supplies in order to pay soldiers.”

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The National
Lebanon is a Model of Militias Taking Over the State
Michael Young

Young writes, “Lebanon stands out as a model of how former militia leaders have taken over the state. A majority of sectarian military leaders became pillars of the post-war order at the end of the country’s civil war in 1990. This happened at a time when centralized states were still the norm in the region. But that is no longer true, as countries throughout the Arab world have been shattered by conflict. Why should Lebanon matter? Precisely because it was the first country to show that militia leaders could be recycled after a war into legitimate national figures, regardless of the crimes they committed during conflict. Leading a militia became a path to social promotion for many individuals previously on society’s periphery…The post-war system may have been dominated by former militia leaders, but its principal protector today is another militia, Hezbollah, which was not initially part of the post-war carve-up. The former militiamen and businessmen have been reliant on Hezbollah to protect their system, but in the process they threaten to be marginalized.”

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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.