Lebanon Daily News Brief 7/1/2021
Shots Fired in Tripoli Amid Electricity Cuts and Fuel, Medicine Shortages
After rumors spread in Tripoli yesterday that a young girl died when an electricity cut stopped her machine that supplies oxygen, anger erupted among protesters. Armed men roamed some of Tripoli’s poorer neighborhoods, firing into the air and throwing stones at soldiers. Soldiers temporarily retreated from those areas to avoid clashes, but returned for patrols later in the day. [AP]
Vatican Hosts Summit with Lebanon’s Christian Leaders
Today, Lebanese Christian leaders are attending a summit with Pope Francis at Clementine Hall in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. The Pope and the patriarchs will discuss the role religion can play in helping Lebanon through multiple crises. Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Protestant churches are represented at the summit. [Reuters]
UNICEF Warns Children in Lebanon are at Risk
In a press release today, UNICEF warned of the dire conditions children are facing in Lebanon due to the country’s multiple crises. The statement said 77 percent of households do not have enough food or enough money to buy food, and that over 30 percent of children skipped meals and went to bed hungry in the last month. Children are going without health care, without education, and some have been sent to work. [UNICEF]
David Hale CNBC Interview: No Financial Assistance Without Reforms
In an interview with CNBC, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale emphasized that Lebanon will not receive an international bailout, but if reforms are made, substantial aid will be delivered. He said, “The key to opening the door is in the hands of Lebanese leaders, they have to demonstrate to us that they have the will and the capacity to take the reforms needed so that any international financing will not be wasted.” [CNBC]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
A Currency Board Would Bring Lebanon Back From the Dead
Peter J. Tanous
Tanous writes: “With a currency board, the Lebanese pound would be backed 100 percent by an anchor currency, such as the U.S. dollar, and be freely convertible into its anchor currency at an absolutely fixed rate of exchange. Currency boards have proven successful in other distressed countries, where they have stopped hyperinflations and established stability. Indeed, a currency board in Lebanon is just what the doctor ordered. A stable, convertible currency would attract foreign capital — especially from thriving Lebanese expat entrepreneurs — revitalize the private sector, and revive GDP growth. Renewed growth based on a sound currency offers the prospects of reopening the debt markets for Lebanon and clawing back part of bank depositors’ losses. It would also ensure that the LAF is adequately financed and could support the families of its soldiers.”
Building a Better Lebanon
Yesterday the Wilson Center hosted a virtual launch event for its new report, “Building a Better Lebanon,” which explores the best way out of Lebanon’s crises. Against a backgrop of weak institutional capacity and growing instability, the co-authors argue that any reform program for Lebanon should be simple, transparent, and most importantly managed by a credible government of reform.
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.