Lebanon News Brief 8/9/2021

Monday, August 9, 2021


Deadly Fight Over Fuel Sale in Northern Lebanon
Fuel shortages in Lebanon have led to massive lines and increased security concerns at gas stations around the country. Today a deadly fight broke out in the north over a fuel sale that involved knives, guns, and a hand grenade. Three men were killed as a result. [AP]

Protesters and Families of Blast Victims Hold a Symbolic Funeral Procession
Yesterday protesters held a symbolic funeral procession for the victims of the Beirut Port blast. Families of the victims and supporters marched from the Beirut Port through nearby districts that were damaged by the explosion. Demonstrators called for justice while carrying imitation coffins during the procession. [France 24]

Artist Maya Husseini to Recreate Sursock Museum’s Stained Glass Windows
After the Sursock Museum was significantly damaged by the Beirut Port blast, a new stained glass facade will be installed. Renowned stained glass artist Maya Husseini, who designed the original windows in 2012, is recreating them out of two tons of Saint Gobin glass plaines donated to the museum after the blast. [The 961]


Foreign Policy
Lebanon Is in Terminal Brain Drain
Anchal Vohroa

Vohra writes, “Experts say the current spurt in brain drain will have a lasting impact on a country grappling with myriad crises. The flight of human capital will exacerbate the collapse of an economy already in a tailspin and impede its recovery…As the war ended in 1990, many Lebanese found hope and returned but then fled again during the 2006 war with Israel. As a result, the diaspora today is nearly three times the size of Lebanon’s population of 5 million. For the last decade and a half, however, migration patterns had been relatively stable—until two years ago, when protesters exposed the house of cards on which Lebanon’s central bank built the country’s economy, and it all came tumbling down…To leave or not to leave—that is the question Lebanon’s professionals are asking as most find it challenging to live off their diminishing salaries. The biggest concern for the rest of the world, meanwhile, should be that the most vulnerable sections of Lebanese society will end up resorting to hiring smugglers for boat rides to Greece.”

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Middle East Institute
What Should US Policymakers Learn a Year After the Blast?
Randa Slim

Slim writes, “US policymakers must understand that US policies that to-date rested on the assumption that there are good and bad guys among Lebanese political and business elites are bad policies. There are no good guys. All of the elites are bad, and some are worse than others. The US bet should be on the Lebanese people, who are today working and organizing to change the status quo. They are demanding that elections now scheduled for mid-2022 be held on time and be strictly monitored. Any economic rescue package to be negotiated in the near future by the international community with the Lebanese government should condition aid on holding these elections on time.”

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(click Randa Slim’s name to read her article)

Eurasia Review
Lebanon Remains in Hezbollah’s Clutches
Neville Teller

Teller writes, “Given the likely composition of the new administration, there seems no chance of Lebanon freeing itself any time soon from the dominance that Hezbollah has managed to acquire in the nation’s political life, and the consequent malign influence on Lebanese affairs that Iran is able to exercise through its puppet. For example, Hezbollah has full military control in southern Lebanon and, if not directly responsible, must at least have acquiesced in the firing of rockets by terrorist groups into northern Israel on August 4 – an action coinciding with Iranian aggression off the Gulf of Hormuz and the accession of Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi. It is no wonder that some commentators, like the UK’s prestigious policy institute Chatham House, are coming to regard Lebanon as a state controlled by Hezbollah.”

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Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies
Khayrallah Survey 2021

The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies recently published the results of a survey meant to gauge the public opinons of nearly 1.3 million Americans of Lebanese descent. The survey found that “the majority of the Lebanese American community falls well within the center to center-left range of the political spectrum on issues such as abortion, women’s rights, LGBTQA+, climate change, race, and police violence.” It also found that a “majority evinced centrist political views, and rejected sectarian and ideological divisions, that–in the respondents’ estimation–have led to the environmental, financial, political and economic crises bedeviling Lebanon.”

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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.