ATFL in Lebanon Opposition MPs Praise Passage of Banking Secrecy Law Out of Committee Lebanon’s Baalbek Festival Back, Despite Economic Collapse
ATFL in Lebanon During a trip to Lebanon this week, ATFL met with Lebanon’s leading politicians and political parties to discuss reforms necessary for unlocking assistance from the International Monetary Fund, a maritime border agreement with Israel, a response to the wheat crisis, and the timely election of Lebanon’s next president. Prominent meetings included: President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and General Joseph Aoun of the Lebanese Armed Forces. [ATFL Twitter]
In more than 20 meetings with government officials and a diverse group of parliamentarians it was stressed that Lebanon is facing a total collapse if the government stalemate continues. We were encouraged by the growing awareness that action must be taken by the parliament on implementing necessary reforms to unlock IMF assistance. There also appears to be an understanding that the maritime border dispute must be settled now in order to diffuse hostilities. If the parties miss this opportunity to conclude a deal now, there is little chance they will come together again for at least another generation. Finally, all key actors understand the immediate need to elect a president who represents the interests of the Lebanese people, without which hope for progress in Lebanon will dissipate. The officials we met with seem to seriously understand the importance of taking action now. We will see if their sense of urgency translates into action in the next six weeks as the process of electing a new president begins.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Opposition MPs Praise Passage of Banking Secrecy Law Out of Committee On Monday, the Parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee approved a draft law that would permit the removal of baking secrecy from certain accounts. It will now be sent to Parliament for debate and a full vote. MP Ibrahim Mneimneh, speaking on behalf of the “Forces for Change” bloc of 13 MPs ideologically aligned with the October 17 protest movements, stated that the bill is a positive first step. [L’Orient Today]
Well, it’s the beginning of compliance with the staff level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Much has yet to be done. Passage of these amendments as proposed to the Banking Secrecy Law will indicate that the new parliament is serious about cleaning up corruption and starting on the road to economic recovery. Lebanon’s leaders must not shield the guilty from accountability. The IMF is only acting on behalf of the people of Lebanon since many of its leadership seem opposed to sunshine.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Lebanon’s Baalbek Festival Back, Despite Economic Collapse For the first time since 2019, Lebanon’s Baalbek festival is being held in front of a live audience. The festival has taken place since 1956 and has featured some of the leading entertainers from across the world over the years. [AP]
Nothing brings back memories of Lebanon‘s cultural trendsetting than the Baalbek Festival. Often imitated but never surpassed, it set the standard for the artistic rebirth of the region. I can’t forget watching Ella Fitzgerald perform with the moon rising behind her through the columns. And now, Lebanese music and dance ensembles and films are once again reminding audiences throughout the world that the Lebanese are still around to host and showcase the finest.
-ATFL Vice President 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.