Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/25/21

DAILY NEWS


Salameh Discusses New Dollar Withdrawal Plan
In an interview with Al Hadath yesterday, central bank governor Riad Salameh discussed a new plan that will allow depositors to finally access their US dollars in Lebanese banks. Starting in June, depositors will be able to withdraw $50,000 which means $25,000 in US dollar bills and the other $25,000 in Lebanese pounds at the market exchange rate. [Al Arabiya]

UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon Running Out of Funds
Amid Lebanon’s economic crises, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon has run out of funding. The tribunal that was set up to prosecute perpetrators of PM Rafik Hariri’s assassination in 2005 is in financial trouble which puts future trials at risk. [Reuters]

Political Talks Resume Upon Hariri’s Return to Beirut
Talks have resumed between political leaders regarding the formation of a government upon Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s return to Beirut. Sources say Hariri and Free Patriotic Movement officials showed “flexibility” after a conversation with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. [Naharnet] In a statement from the UN office in Beirut, Deputy UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi urged the formation of a government that is “competent, empowered, and representative of its people.” [The Daily Star]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Standing Up For Lebanon – Recent US Words and Actions
Jean AbiNader

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/24/21

DAILY NEWS


US Renews Military Assistance Commitment to Lebanon
Last week the US State Department and the Lebanese Armed Forces virtually held the inaugural US-Lebanon Defense Resourcing Conference. Delegations from both countries highlighted the strength of the US-Lebanese Armed Forces relationship and discussed priorities surrounding counterterrorism, border security, and defense institution building. The United States announced $120 million in foreign military financing assistance to Lebanon for the 2021 fiscal year. [US State Department]

Continued Political Debate Over Government Formation
After President Michel Aoun’s letter was read during last Friday’s parliamentary session in which he blamed Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri for delay in government formation, the session was adjourned and moved to Saturday. During Saturday’s session PM-designate Hariri said he would not form a government that gives preference to a political factions, including the president’s. [Reuters] Today Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri urged political leaders to resolve differences and acknowledge that Lebanon’s political crisis is “100% purely domestic and personal.” [Naharnet]

Water Shortages in Lebanon
Lebanon is facing serious water shortages and some Lebanese are saying that the government’s mismanagement is to blame. In the video above, BBC talks with some of the residents affected. [BBC]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Standing Up For Lebanon – Recent US Words and Actions
Jean AbiNader

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.

This Week in Lebanon

May 23, 2021
US Congress Members Urge Support for Lebanon
International Support Group for Lebanon Meeting in Beirut
Syrian Voters Attacked on Their Way to Beirut

US Congress Members Urge Support for Lebanon
Members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Blinken this week urging the United States to respond to Lebanon’s deteriorating situation. They recommended coordinated aid to the country, support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, and for an independent investigation into last summer’s explosion at the Port of Beirut. [Al-Monitor]

ANALYSIS

“Chairman Meeks and the congressional co-signers reaffirm Lebanon’s importance on the agenda of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They understand the multi-dimensional aspects of a strong US policy: firm international diplomacy advocating a government capable of addressing the needs of the Lebanese citizens, international aid for those who suffer from the effects of incompetent governance, and steadfast support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is dedicated to the protecting the rights of its citizens. This letter and a companion letter sent by the House US-Lebanon Friendship Caucus keep the Lebanon issue front and center with the Biden administration and offer a roadmap for stabilizing its US interests in the eastern Mediterranean and for curbing the influence of Iran.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


International Support Group for Lebanon Meeting in Beirut
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) met in Beirut on Wednesday to assess Lebanon’s situation. The group took note of further economic and social decline in the country and called on political leaders to form a government. ISG also called for elections to occur on time and for impacts from any subsidy changes on economic and social well-being to be mitigated. [Naharnet]

ANALYSIS

“Once again the ISG has spoken out in support of the people of Lebanon, calling on the political leadership to undertake the reforms critical to the country’s survival, holding the elections on time, and maintaining humanitarian support for the populace. Is there any responsible world leader or organization that is not calling on the leadership to reform or step aside? It is exhausting to hear time and time again the need for transformation only to watch the oligarchy continue to ignore reality.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader


Syrian Voters Attacked on Their Way to Beirut
On Thursday Lebanese mobs attacked Syrian refugees and expatriates on their way to cast their vote at for the Syrian presidential election at the Syrian embassy in Beirut. The groups attacked were said to be organized to vote for President Bashar Assad and were identified by those chanting slogans in support of Assad and carrying banners with the president’s picture. [Arab News]

ANALYSIS

“The pent-up frustration of the Lebanese is being directed toward Syrians in Lebanon who are voting in the Syrian presidential elections at their embassy in Beirut. This has drawn the ire of opposition leaders and common people who can’t rectify why someone claiming refugee status would vote for Assad whose policies created the exodus from Syria in the first place. While the US and other countries are calling the election a sham, it is puzzling to understand the disconnect between those living on relief provided by the international community, and some who are supporting the regime that made them refugees in the first place.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed 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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/21/21

DAILY NEWS


US Congress Members Urge Support for Lebanon
Members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Blinken this week urging the United States to respond to Lebanon’s deteriorating situation. They recommended coordinated aid to the country, support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, and for an independent investigation into last summer’s explosion at the Port of Beirut. [Al-Monitor]

President Aoun’s Letter on PM-Designate Hariri Read in Parliament
Political squabbles continue as the Lebanon enters its ninth month without a government. Today a letter by President Michel Aoun was read during a parliamentary session in which Aoun blamed Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri for the delay and said Hariri is incapable of forming a Cabinet. [Reuters] The session was quickly adjourned after the letter’s reciting and a new session is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 p.m. [Naharnet]

Attacks on Kataeb Party Offices in Tripoli
Yesterday afternoon Kataeb Party offices in Tripoli were attacked and burned by Syrian regime loyalists. The acts appear to be in response to earlier attacks on Syrian refugees and expats on their way to vote in Beirut, many of whom were said to be voting for Bashar al-Assad. [The 961]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Podcast Episode – Anatomy of a Crisis: Controlling Hyperinflation in Lebanon

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/10/21

DAILY NEWS


Central Bank Looks Into Mechanism for Dollar Withdrawals
After a civil society group submitted a legal complaint against banks who have frozen Lebanese depositors out of their accounts and blocked withdrawals, the Banque Du Liban announced yesterday that it will be looking into a mechanism that would allow Lebanese to have access to their funds. Many depositors have been locked out of their accounts since 2019. [Reuters]

Turkish Company Warns It Will Cut Power to Ships in Lebanon
After Lebanese Financial Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim ordered two Turkish power ships to be detained last week, the Turkish company Karpowership is urging the Lebanese government to engage in talks. Karpowership served a final notice that it will suspend services while Lebanon struggles to pay over $100 million owed to the company. [Bloomberg] The judge ordered to detain the ships on suspicion of corruption in dealings of the ships production. [The 961]

Friends of President Aoun and PM-Designate Hariri Seek to Revive Talks
After French Foreign Minister Le Drian’s visit to Beirut last week, local mediators and common friends of President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri are reportedly conducting behind-the-scene efforts to resume talks between the two government leaders to find a solution to Lebanon’s cabinet formation. Lebanon is now rounding its ninth month without a government. [Naharnet]

Developing Cross-Border Cartels in Syria and Lebanon
Concern is growing over Syrian and Lebanese developing drug networks. Saudi Arabia recently imposed a produce ban after it seized millions of Captagon pills being smuggled into the country from Lebanon. Over the last two years, at least 15 other shipments of Captagon have been intercepted in the Middle East and Europe. Some officials report that these shipments originate from Syria and Lebanon cross-border cartels, made up of networks of crime families, militia leaders and political figures. [The Guardian]

Hezbollah Leader’s Support for Recent Iran Talks
Hassan Nasrallah’s latest televised speech revealed the Hezbollah leader’s support for Iran talks with the United States and Saudi Arabia. This support comes after mediated talks between Tehran and Riyadh in Baghdad and between Tehran and Washington in Vienna. [Associated Press]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


The Value of a ‘Seat at the Table’: How Elites Interfere in Lebanon’s Infrastructure Procurement
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Mounir Mahmalat

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/06/21

DAILY NEWS


French FM Le Drian Meets with President Aoun and Speaker Berri
Al Jazeera

59 Containers of Chemical Waste Shipped From Port of Beirut
The Daily Star

Lebanese Judge Orders Asset Freeze of 14 People Connected to Major Banks
Reuters

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Freedom of Speech in Lebanon is Under Attack
Aya Majzoub
Human Rights Watch

Martitime Border Negotiations – Is It A Family Business?
Tracy Chamoun

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 04/30/21

DAILY NEWS


France Imposes Sanctions on Lebanese Political Leaders
France has begun imposing sanctions on Lebanese politicians for their role in obstructing government formation and/or their involvement in corruption. The list of names has not been released publicly yet, but French diplomats say people on it are being made aware. [Al Jazeera] French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will travel to Beirut next week for a two-day visit. [Naharnet]

Christian Parties Call for Parliament’s Resignation
Several Christian parties are calling for the resignation of Parliament. Leaders of the Independence Movement, Lebanese Forces, Kataeb Party, and the National Liberation Party have reiterated the need for Lebanon’s sovereignty to be upheld, and accused the Hezbollah-run Parliament of dominating Lebanon. [Arab News]

BDL Gives 95 Percent Of Required Material to Alvarez
Today is Banque du Liban’s deadline to handover data and information requested by Alvarez & Marsal to conduct a forensic audit. A source close to the government said that BDL has given 95 percent of the information required. The remaining 5 percent is said to hold information on Lebanese commercial bank accounts. [The Daily Star]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


The Future of the Bekaa Valley, Up and Coming CBD Capital
Jean AbiNader

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 04/21/12

DAILY NEWS


Government Formation Deadlock Persists
Naharnet

Government Risks Delaying Transfer of $246M World Bank Loan
Rosabel Crean
The Daily Star

Lebanese Contractors Have Plan to Rebuild Beirut Port Without State Expenses
Hussein Yassine
The 961

Lebanon-Syria: Smuggling and Sanctions, the New Front Line
James Andre
France 24

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Let’s Imagine – A Fantasy About Lebanon’s Resurrection 1.0
Jean AbiNader

The Christian Priest Who Wants to Redeem Lebanon’s Sins
Amir-Hussein Radjy
Foreign Policy

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 04/21/21

DAILY NEWS


Lebanese Church Patriarch Wants Direct Talks With Hezbollah On Making Country ‘Neutral’
Natasha Turak
CNBC

EU Preparing Sanctions Mechanism Against Government Formation Obstructers
Hussein Dakroub
The Daily Star

Aoun Says ‘State Must Preserve Justice For All’ After Judicial Storm
Naharnet

OPINION & ANALYSIS


The Christian Priest Who Wants to Redeem Lebanon’s Sins
Amir-Hussein Radjy
Foreign Policy

The Five Wildcards of Lebanese Military Capability Development
Aram Nerguizian
Tawazun

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.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 04/19/21

DAILY NEWS


EU Meeting in Brussels to Address Lebanon File
Naharnet

With Food and Fuel, Hezbollah Braces for the Worst in Lebanon Collapse
Reuters
Lalia Bassam, Ellen Francis

Delights of Ramadan Disappear for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Sarah El Deeb and Mariam Fam
Associated Press

Saudi and Iran Held Talks Aimed at Easing Tensions, Say Sources
Reuters

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Supporting Syrian Refugees Amidst Lebanon’s Crises
Will Todman
Center for Strategic & International Studies

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.