Lebanon Daily News Brief 12/2/2021

DAILY NEWS


Registration Open for Lebanon’s Cash Card System
Yesterday Lebanon opened registration for assistance to 700,000 vulnerable families through its new cash card system. The launch comes after months of delay and with only partial funding secured including a $246 million loan from the World Bank. The estimated cost of the cash card program is $546 million to provide up to $126 a month for eligible families. Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar said, “these programs are not the solution,” and are only meant to provide temporary relief. [Al Jazeera]

Hezbollah and Amal Ministers Continue to Boycott Cabinet Meetings
Yesterday Prime Minister Najib Miqati met with President Michel Aoun regarding cabinet meetings and told a journalist afterwards, “the government is functioning but the Council of Ministers is not.” [Naharnet] Hezbollah and Amal sources say that their ministers will continue to boycott cabinet sessions until disputes over Judge Tarek Bitar are resolved. [Naharnet]

COVID-19 Prevention Measures Reintroduced This Month
Lebanon’s COVID-19 committee announced yesterday that the country will impose a night-time curfew starting December 17 for non-vaccinated people. The curfew will last for three weeks. Full vaccination will be mandatory for all workers in specified sectors, including health, education, tourism, and public transport as of January 10. [Reuters]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


War on the Rocks
Facing Up to Foreign Influence: How Outsiders Helped Create Lebanon’s Current Crisis
Nicholas Noe

Noe writes, “For Western policymakers who claim they want to help the Lebanese people fix their country, acknowledging the failure of previous approaches is the first step toward implementing better ones. A good place to start might be looking back at earlier U.S. wisdom on Lebanon. In the wake of the Eisenhower administration’s 1958 military intervention, the National Security Council recommended that America ‘support the continued independence and integrity of Lebanon’ without becoming too closely identified with individual factions in Lebanese politics. In other words, Washington should ‘provide Lebanon with political support and with military assistance for internal security purposes, stressing our support for the country as a whole rather than for a specific regime or faction.’ There is some evidence that President Joe Biden has started moving in this direction. The administration hasn’t opposed multiple European corruption probes into Salameh or the local case against another longstanding pillar of U.S. policy in Lebanon, former army commander Gen. Jean Kahwaji. Moreover, as of last month, the Biden administration saw fit to sanction businessman and key Saad Hariri backer Jihad al Arab for “endemic” cronyism, the first time Washington has ever taken such a step against a perceived ally in Lebanon.”

Read more here


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 12/1/2021

DAILY NEWS


US Energy Envoy Says Egyptian Gas to Start Flowing in Three Months
US State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein said on Monday that natural gas from Egypt should start flowing to Lebanon in the next three months. He told CNBC he hopes it will come “long before” the 2022 parliamentary elections and that “every week that goes by I am more optimistic that we’re going to be in a position to have the gas flowing.” [CNBC]

Cabinet Meetings Remain Stalled
After Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s attempts to restart cabinet sessions, sources say “stances have not changed” concerning Shiite ministers’ position on Judge Bitar’s removal. [Naharnet] Today Miqati met with President Michel Aoun and told a journalist afterwards, “the government is functioning but the Council of Ministers is not.” [Naharnet]

Geagea Accuses Hezbollah of Working to Delay Elections
Leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea blamed Hezbollah and President Michel Aoun for efforts to delay the March 2022 parliamentary elections. He told Reuters, “they are near certain they will lose their parliamentary majority.” Hezbollah MP Ibrahim Moussawi responded saying that the party is firmly in favor of holding elections “on their scheduled constitutional dates.” President Aoun said earlier this month he would not approve of the March 27 date agreed upon by parliament, and would only accept May election dates. [Reuters]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


When to Say ‘No’ to Hezbollah’s Agenda
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Hezbollah has been able, since its inception in the mid-1980s, to move from being the “resistance force” protecting Lebanon from Israel, to a fully participating actor in the political system with the capacity to bring the government to heel as its priorities dictate. One hears a query that if Lebanon would normalize relations with Israel or pass the baton on the Shebaa Farms brief to Syria, would the ‘resistance’ end and Hezbollah morph into a political force competing without the clout of a battle-hardened militia? The basic question this raises is will Hezbollah as a Lebanese entity or some hybrid that, as its Secretary General says, looks east to Iran for its raison d’être?”

Read more here

Atlantic Council
Lebanon is Facing Two Crises. Will the New Prime Minister Survive?
Nicholas Blanford

Blanford writes, “The deadlock over Bitar’s fate persists, with the possibility that if he isn’t dismissed, the ministers linked to Hezbollah and Amal and an allied party, the Marada, will resign. Such a move could collapse the government, or at the very least, thwart its ability to tackle the grave economic crisis Lebanon currently endures. It could also threaten the timetable for parliamentary elections scheduled at the end of March 2022. Through its actions over the past two months, Hezbollah’s desire to remove Bitar appears to be considered a higher priority over helping the country embark on the desperately needed path to economic recovery.”

Read more here


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 11/30/2021

DAILY NEWS


PM Miqati Discusses Resuming Cabinet Sessions with Speaker Berri
Two Shiite ministers announced they will boycott cabinet meetings until there is a “return to the constitutional and legal principles in the Beirut port blast investigation.” [Naharnet] Today, Prime Minister Najib Miqati met with Speaker Nabih Berri to seek help in holding a cabinet session which has been delayed since October 12. However Berri also insisted on “resolving the issue of Bitar first,” sources say. [Naharnet]

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Briefs Security Council
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka briefed the UN Security Council on Lebanon and the implementation of Resolution 1701 alongside Under Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and UNFIL Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano del Col. Wronecka encouraged the formation of a government under Prime Minister Miqati as a positive development, but regretted that the government has not made progress towards reforms and said she hoped cabinet sessions would resume soon. Wronecka emphasized the importance of fair and transparent elections in Lebanon. [Naharnet]

President Aoun Seeks Reconciliation with Gulf Countries
President Michel Aoun gave an exclusive interview to Al Jazeera yesterday in which he said that Lebanon is seeking to reconcile relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. He dismissed Information Minister George Kordahi’s comments on the war in Yemen but clarified that he has not asked Kordahi to resign. [Al Jazeera] Regarding the Beirut Port investigation, he added that he does not agree with Hezbollah’s calls to dismiss Judge Tarek Bitar. [Al Arabiya]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


When to Say ‘No’ to Hezbollah’s Agenda
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Hezbollah has been able, since its inception in the mid-1980s, to move from being the “resistance force” protecting Lebanon from Israel, to a fully participating actor in the political system with the capacity to bring the government to heel as its priorities dictate. One hears a query that if Lebanon would normalize relations with Israel or pass the baton on the Shebaa Farms brief to Syria, would the ‘resistance’ end and Hezbollah morph into a political force competing without the clout of a battle-hardened militia? The basic question this raises is will Hezbollah as a Lebanese entity or some hybrid that, as its Secretary General says, looks east to Iran for its raison d’être?”

Read more here

Carnegie Middle East Center
Is the Son Setting?
Michael Young

Young writes, “Saad al-Hariri may yet run in elections, though the strong possibility they may not happen is surely something he has factored into his decision. Whichever way Hariri leans, it’s obvious he’s preparing for a long period in the political wilderness. Lebanon may not be the worse for it, but nor is it reassuring that Sunnis should feel that their leaders alone are the ones being eliminated from the political landscape.”

Read more here


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 11/29/2021

DAILY NEWS


Protests Over Lebanon’s Worsening Economic Conditions
On Friday protesters broke into Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and replaced a picture of President Michel Aoun with a banner that read, “revolutionaries of October 17.” [AP] Protests have continued today with demonstrations of burning tires and blocked roads in central Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon. [Reuters] Lebanon’s economic conditions continue to plague the Lebanese people while the Lebanese pound reaches a new low of LL25,000 to the dollar. [Middle East Eye]

President Aoun Visits Qatar
Today President Michel Aoun arrived in Qatar for talks with the Emir of Qatar and other officials regarding the spiraling diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Gulf countries. Aoun said he will call on Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to invest in the reconstruction of the Beirut Port and other infrastructure projects, including electricity. [AP]

Prime Minister Miqati Visits Pope Francis
On Thursday Prime Minister Najib Miqati met privately with Pope Francis for a 20-minute discussion at the Vatican. The pope told PM Miqati that “Lebanon is a country, a message, and also a promise to fight for.” [Eurasia Review]

Russia Plans Oil Storage Project at the Beirut Port
Following a meeting in Moscow between Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib and Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov, the two announced plans to implement a large project at the Beirut Port. Rosneft, a Russian company that owns a a port terminal for oil storage, will modernize and enlarge its oil product storage there. [The 961]

Australia Designates the Entire Hezbollah Organization
Australia extended its 2003 designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization from just the group’s military wing to the entire organization. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said that the group poses a “real and credible” threat to Australia and that Hezbollah “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organizations.” [Al Arabiya]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


When to Say ‘No’ to Hezbollah’s Agenda
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Hezbollah has been able, since its inception in the mid-1980s, to move from being the “resistance force” protecting Lebanon from Israel, to a fully participating actor in the political system with the capacity to bring the government to heel as its priorities dictate. One hears a query that if Lebanon would normalize relations with Israel or pass the baton on the Shebaa Farms brief to Syria, would the ‘resistance’ end and Hezbollah morph into a political force competing without the clout of a battle-hardened militia? The basic question this raises is will Hezbollah as a Lebanese entity or some hybrid that, as its Secretary General says, looks east to Iran for its raison d’être?”

Read more here

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
A Transparent and Effective Cash Assistance Program: Dream or Reality?
Leila Dagher

Dagher writes, “The proposed quasi-universal cash transfer program is essential and timely, particularly in light of the dire socio-economic situation in the country. However, the program should be very carefully designed and implemented in a transparent manner so as not to be used as a medium for vote-buying. Ensuring strong oversight mechanisms and anti-corruption safeguards also provides an opportunity to regain the trust of the Lebanese and other stakeholders, which is the cornerstone of any successful economic recovery plan.”

Read more here

Carnegie Middle East Center
Is the Son Setting?
Michael Young

Young writes, “Saad al-Hariri may yet run in elections, though the strong possibility they may not happen is surely something he has factored into his decision. Whichever way Hariri leans, it’s obvious he’s preparing for a long period in the political wilderness. Lebanon may not be the worse for it, but nor is it reassuring that Sunnis should feel that their leaders alone are the ones being eliminated from the political landscape.”

Read more here


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: 11/27/2021

November 27, 2021
ATFL Leads US Representatives on Fact-Finding Mission
UN Special Rapporteur Expresses Disappointment on Subsidies
“Why the Gulf States Turned on Lebanon” by Hussein Ibish

ATFL Leads US Representatives on Fact-Finding Mission to Lebanon
The American Task Force on Lebanon led a congressional delegation to Lebanon on a fact-finding mission to better understand the country’s unraveling crises, and the new government’s role in mitigating economic and humanitarian disaster. The delegation will report to President Joe Biden and Congress with proposals to help the Lebanese. US House Representatives, including Darrell Issa and Darin LaHood, met with Prime Minister Najib Miqati, President Michel Aoun, other top officials, and civil society leaders. [AP]

RESPONSE

“The congressional members came home with a new determination to address the dire situation in Lebanon. Nothing substitutes for the reality they experienced on the ground. The resolve of the new government and competence of the Lebanese Armed Forces were seen as positive signs by the delegation, but it was evident that without the cohesion of all influential Lebanese policy makers and civil society, Lebanon could reach its breaking point. The members pledged to stand by the Lebanese people and to brief Congress and the Biden administration on issues they consider key to US interests. At the same time, they emphasized the importance of the Lebanese government to do its part in addressing the people’s needs, ahead of personal ambitions.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


UN Special Rapporteur Expresses Disappointment on Medicine Subsidies
Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on poverty and human rights completed a twelve-day tour of Lebanon. During his visit Olivier De Schutter met with Lebanon officials, civil society leaders, and impoverished communities throughout the country. He concluded that though Lebanon is not a failed state, it is a failing state. De Schutter added that the “government’s inaction in the face of this unprecedented crisis has inflicted great misery on the population…” [The National] Last week in a tweet he further expressed disappointment in the removal of subsidies on medicines. [The 961]

RESPONSE

“Olivier De Schutter, UN Rapporteur on poverty and human rights, concluded his 12 day trip to Lebanon with no good news. In addition to the depressing facts we already know, he criticized the government’s latest move to protect the reserves by lifting more subsidies on medications. This step was taken without any indication that the Parliament will pass legislation to implement the cash card system already funded as a partial replacement for procuring food and medicines. This disconnect between making the needs of the people the priority and the political calculus of the leadership to protect themselves is a scandal.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy Jean AbiNader


“Why the Gulf States Turned on Lebanon” by Hussein Ibish
Hussein Ibish writes for The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington on the growing diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Gulf countries. Ibish writes, “Undoubtedly one of Riyadh’s primary calculations is that pressuring Tehran through Lebanon and Hezbollah suggests a quid pro quo, not only in terms of diplomatic relations in exchange for the easing of Iranian support for the Houthis, but also as a kind of Lebanon-Yemen exchange.” [AGSIW]

RESPONSE

“Murkier and darker, the wheels of Arab conspiracy and leveraging continue to crunch Lebanon into even more desperate conditions. Without Gulf employment, trade, tourism, and other ties, Lebanon’s economy continues to implode. For what? So that Gulf countries can maneuver to halt Iran’s influence over Syria or to claim some relief from their misguided policies in Yemen? We continue to call for a Lebanon policy that is independent, neutral, and based on Lebanon’s needs not as a pawn in the larger region. The price of Saudi-Iranian competition should not be Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy 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 11/23/2021

DAILY NEWS


UNICEF Warns Children’s Futures at Stake in Lebanon
UNICEF released a report today that warns that Lebanon’s economic crisis has left some children hungry and without medical care. Some have been forced to drop out of school to help their families. UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon Yukie Mokuo says, “Unless we act now, every child’s future in Lebanon is at stake.” She added, “The government needs to take swift action to safeguard children’s future.” [AP]

Lebanon’s Leaders Meet on Beirut Port Investigation
Lebanon’s top leaders met yesterday to find a solution to issues surrounding the Beirut Port blast investigation and Judge Tarek Bitar. President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, and Speaker Nabih Berri agreed that the solution should be found through the judiciary and that if the judiciary falls to resolve it, a solution can be found through parliament. [Naharnet]

Russia Sends Beirut Port Blast Images
Following a request earlier this year for satellite images of Beirut’s port before and after the August 4 explosion, Russia has sent the images to Lebanon’s government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the update after talks with a Lebanese official in Moscow. [Reuters] When asked about the meeting in Moscow, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price reemphasized engagement with France, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries. [US State Department]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Brookings
Is Hezbollah Overplaying its Hand Inside Lebanon?
Stephanie T. Williams

Williams writes, “As Lebanon prepares for much-needed national elections next year, one can hope that independent candidates representing the cross-sectarian movement that emerged in October 2019 could help change the balance in the parliament. Hezbollah will continue to enjoy substantial support amongst its Shiite base, given the organization’s historical role as protectors of this once-marginalized community, but as their co-religionists recently demonstrated in the Iraqi elections, there are increasing complaints of an overreliance on Iran at the expense of the community’s Arab roots.”

Read more here

Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington
Why the Gulf States Turned on Lebanon
Hussein Ibish

Ibish writes, “The de facto abandonment of Lebanon by most of the Gulf states has been developing for at least a decade. These countries have long been uneasy with the decisive political power in Lebanon of the pro-Iranian Shia group Hezbollah. Those concerns have been steadily mounting along with the rise of Iran’s regional influence and reach following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the successful intervention by Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran in the Syrian civil war beginning in 2015 in support of the Damascus regime. Since the main part of the Syrian conflict has ended with the fall of Aleppo to pro-regime forces, Hezbollah has come to occupy a regional role far beyond its function as a Lebanese political party and militia. It effectively serves as the vanguard of Iran’s extensive network of allied militia groups in Arab countries such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and beyond with a presence and effective role far beyond Lebanon’s borders.”

Read more here


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 11/22/2021

DAILY NEWS


Lebanon’s Navy Rescues a Boat in Distress Carrying Migrants
Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s office announced on Saturday that Lebanon’s navy rescued migrants who were illegally traveling west across the Mediterranean Sea from Lebanon. The country’s desperate circumstances has led to an increase of Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians attempting to travel across the sea to the EU. The PM’s office statement said there would be an investigation into the case as smugglers have made a business of selling passage to Europe. [AP]

Lebanon’s Bar Association Holds Elections
Lebanon’s Bar Association held elections yesterday to select nine new members and the new head of the association. Around 7,600 lawyers voted and 36 candidates stood. Former President Amin Gemayel said, “We hope that the elections will come out with results that embody Lebanon’s ambition, and that this Bar Association will be an example for all syndicates.” Winning members included Imad Martinos, Nader Kaspar, Elias Bazrelli, Abdo Lahoud, Iskandar Najjar, Fadi Al-Masry, Marwan Gabr, Wajih Massad, and Maya Al-Zaghrini. [Arab News]

Russia Sends Beirut Port Blast Images
Following a request earlier this year for satellite images of Beirut’s port before and after the August 4 explosion, Russia has sent the images to Lebanon’s government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the update after talks with a Lebanese official in Moscow. [Reuters]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Brookings
Is Hezbollah Overplaying its Hand Inside Lebanon?
Stephanie T. Williams

Williams writes, “As Lebanon prepares for much-needed national elections next year, one can hope that independent candidates representing the cross-sectarian movement that emerged in October 2019 could help change the balance in the parliament. Hezbollah will continue to enjoy substantial support amongst its Shiite base, given the organization’s historical role as protectors of this once-marginalized community, but as their co-religionists recently demonstrated in the Iraqi elections, there are increasing complaints of an overreliance on Iran at the expense of the community’s Arab roots.”

Read more here

Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington
Is Hezbollah Overplaying its Hand Inside Lebanon?
Hussein Ibish

Ibish writes, “The de facto abandonment of Lebanon by most of the Gulf states has been developing for at least a decade. These countries have long been uneasy with the decisive political power in Lebanon of the pro-Iranian Shia group Hezbollah. Those concerns have been steadily mounting along with the rise of Iran’s regional influence and reach following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the successful intervention by Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran in the Syrian civil war beginning in 2015 in support of the Damascus regime. Since the main part of the Syrian conflict has ended with the fall of Aleppo to pro-regime forces, Hezbollah has come to occupy a regional role far beyond its function as a Lebanese political party and militia. It effectively serves as the vanguard of Iran’s extensive network of allied militia groups in Arab countries such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and beyond with a presence and effective role far beyond Lebanon’s borders.”

Read more here


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 11/19/2021

DAILY NEWS


Aoun Says He Will Not Authorize March Election Date
Today President Michel Aoun announced that he would not sign off on the new parliamentary election date in March and would only agree to an election date on May 8 or May 15. He cited several reasons; March 27 gives the new government less time to secure an IMF recovery plan, there may be weather issues in March affecting voter turnout, and that it would deprive thousands of voters from reaching the voting age of 21 in time for the elections. [Reuters] The announced decision follows an appeal lodged by Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement early this week in which FPM argued against new electoral law amendments agreed upon by parliament in October. [Arab News]

Riad Salameh Releases Personal Audit to PM Miqati
Central bank governor Riad Salameh released audits of his personal accounts to Prime Minister Najib Miqati according to tweets from the cabinet. The forensic audit of Banque du Liban is still moving ahead, in a separate process conducted by Alvarez & Marsal. Salameh said the personal audit was in response to rumors regarding his accounts. Three European countries are investigating Salameh over allegations of money laundering. [Reuters]

Palestinians with Lebanese Passports Seek Asylum in Barcelona
A group of 39 Palestinians with Lebanese passports have requested asylum in Spain. On a trip from Cairo with stops in Barcelona, Bogota, and Quito as the final stop, the group stopped in Barcelona and refused to board their flight to the next destination. Spanish authorities are processing their asylum request and the Palestinian group has been taken care of with food and assistance in the meantime. [Naharnet]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Carnegie Middle East Center
Open Invitations
Michael Young

Young writes, “No one should expect clear or rapid outcomes from the foreign countries seeking stakes in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Iran will fight tooth and nail for every inch of terrain—witness the Iranian foreign minister’s recent efforts to torpedo a French plan to rebuild Beirut port, by offering that Iran do the same and more. Change will require patience by states to use their advantages, while accepting that zero-sum expectations will fail: Eliminating Iran’s sway from Lebanon will not happen, given the large Shia community there. With time, a regional consensus over the country may emerge to stabilize things, similar to the Syrian-Saudi understanding over the Taif agreement.”

Read more here


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 11/18/2021

DAILY NEWS


Aoun’s Party Appeals Electoral Law Amendments
After parliament approved amendments to the 2017 election laws last month, President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement party lodged an appeal yesterday with the Constitutional Court. The party is arguing against the amendments including the removal of the six additional seats for expat voting and magnetic cards that allow voters to cast their vote in their place of residence. [Arab News]

Lebanon Restricts Travelers to Belarus
Lebanon has imposed restrictions on airlines to limit passengers from traveling from Beirut to Belarus. Only those with visas, residency permits or Belarusian citizenship can fly to Belarus. The restrictions follow accusations that Minsk has made a concerted effort to fly in thousands of Middle East migrants to illegally push them across Belarus borders to punish Europe for sanctions placed on the country. [Reuters]

Garbage Has Begun Piling Up in the Streets
In the midst of Lebanon’s economic crisis, garbage has begun piling up on the streets again as the government struggles to pay its waste management company. Last year in the Beirut Port blast, two sorting plants were destroyed and have yet to be repaired. Environment Minister Nasser Yassin says that he has tried to prioritize the waste problem, but that other feuds between government leaders have taken precedent and they have not met in over a month. [Al Jazeera]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Carnegie Middle East Center
Open Invitations
Michael Young

Young writes, “No one should expect clear or rapid outcomes from the foreign countries seeking stakes in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Iran will fight tooth and nail for every inch of terrain—witness the Iranian foreign minister’s recent efforts to torpedo a French plan to rebuild Beirut port, by offering that Iran do the same and more. Change will require patience by states to use their advantages, while accepting that zero-sum expectations will fail: Eliminating Iran’s sway from Lebanon will not happen, given the large Shia community there. With time, a regional consensus over the country may emerge to stabilize things, similar to the Syrian-Saudi understanding over the Taif agreement.”

Read more here

Poverty as Politics: Lebanon Runs on Empty
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Despite the repeated warnings and admonitions to Lebanese leaders, they seem immovable in terms of moving ahead with painful yet necessary reforms. PM Najib Mikati’s agenda for pushing the political process forward to launch even simple reforms is in peril as the opponents of change are deliberately obstructing the few steps he is proposing. The indication from the World Bank is that Lebanon may need 12 to 19 years to recover to its pre-crisis per-capita GDP, and that is only one indicator of quality of life. It is indeed the darkest of times for Lebanon and its people.”

Read more here


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 11/17/2021

DAILY NEWS


UNICEF Delivers 97 Tons of Lifesaving Medical Supplies
Through funding from the US government, UNICEF has delivered 97 tons of lifesaving medical supplies to Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health. [US Embassy Beirut] The delivery arrives as medicine prices in Lebanon skyrocket again following a lift on most drug subsidies. [The National]

Riad Salameh Pushes Back on Investigations
Today central bank governor Riad Salameh disputed investigations into his money dealings led by Switzerland, France, and now Luxembourg. He said in a statement that during his tenure he asked for an audit of his transactions and investments and the results show that “not a single penny of public money” was used. [AP]

Iraq Approves 500,000 Tons of Gas Oil to Lebanon
Yesterday Iraq approved an agreement to send Lebanon 500,000 tons of gas oil. The export follows a July deal between the two countries where Lebanon would pay in goods and services for 1 million tons of fuel oil a year. [Reuters]

Protests for Family Members Arrested Following Beirut Port Blast
Following last year’s explosion at Beirut Port, Lebanese authorities arrested the port manager and more than 20 port and customs officials. Today families of those arrested protested outside of Beirut’s Justice Palace with demands to release their loved ones. Those arrested have remained imprisoned meanwhile nobody has yet been convicted for the blast. [Al Monitor]

OPINION & ANALYSIS


Poverty as Politics: Lebanon Runs on Empty
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “Despite the repeated warnings and admonitions to Lebanese leaders, they seem immovable in terms of moving ahead with painful yet necessary reforms. PM Najib Mikati’s agenda for pushing the political process forward to launch even simple reforms is in peril as the opponents of change are deliberately obstructing the few steps he is proposing. The indication from the World Bank is that Lebanon may need 12 to 19 years to recover to its pre-crisis per-capita GDP, and that is only one indicator of quality of life. It is indeed the darkest of times for Lebanon and its people.”

Read more here

The Lebanese Center for Policy
Tackling Lebanon’s Electricity Crisis: Lessons from Yemen
Neil McCulloh

McCulloh writes, “Lebanon’s electricity system is in a deep crisis. Power from Electricite du Liban (EDL)—the insolvent state-run utility—is now available for barely two hours a day, as the population has to rely on increasingly expensive diesel generators for power. In light of this crisis, it is useful to learn lessons from other countries that have faced similar circumstances. One such country is Yemen. Lebanon’s situation is, fortunately, not yet as dire as that facing the people of Yemen, where war has been raging since 2015. But the very different responses to the collapse of Yemen’s electricity system from the two authorities fighting for control over the country reveal some important and relevant lessons for Lebanon. This brief outlines the Yemeni experience following the collapse of its electricity sector and derives lessons to be learnt for Lebanon. It discusses the approaches taken by the authorities controlling different parts of the country to address a near breakdown in service, notably the Houthi administration in the North, who fully liberalized the market, and the Internationally Recognized Government (IRG) in the South, who maintained a state monopoly on energy production and a highly subsidized tariff.”

Read more here


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.