US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Expected to Return to Beirut Soon President Aoun Reiterates Commitment to UN Resolution 1701 Caretaker Minister: Lebanon Plans to Build New Grain Silos at Port of Beirut
US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Expected to Return to Beirut Soon Following weeks of both anticipation and tension regarding the ongoing, US-mediated negotiations between the Lebanese and Israeli governments over the delineation of Lebanon’s Southern maritime border, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security is expected to return to Beirut by the end of this month. [Al Arabiya English]
Hochstein’s expected return and new movement by the parliament on a banking secrecy law and food aid, displays an uptick in movement by policymakers to respond to the IMF package and send signals to the international community that a new Lebanese government is serious about reform and change. To show the IMF that Lebanon is serious about reform, parliament will next need to pass a budget and capital control laws. If these laws can be passed by September, along with a Maritime border deal, Lebanon’s next challenge is the presidential election slated for November. The key challenge is whether a coalition of reform-minded parliamentarians can find a presidential candidate who represents positive change for the country.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
President Aoun Reiterates Commitment to UN Resolution 1701 Following yesterday’s meeting between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, Lebanon’s head of state publicly reiterated the country’s commitment to UN Resolution 1701 as well as to the ongoing, US-mediated negotiations pertaining to its southern maritime border. [L’Orient Today]
Lebanon’s leadership is under no illusions. The challenges are numerous and difficult to overcome, especially the future of the State under a new president who will face the economic disaster and political gridlock that characterizes business as usual. The choice of a president may likely involve trade-offs in naming the President, Commander in Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and the Governor of the Central Bank, which may only lead to further entrenchment of the powerful political elites. Current President Aoun’s statements are a welcome thaw in the push to settle the maritime dispute and the often-delayed reckoning with his party’s political partners, the militia-party Hezbollah.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Caretaker Minister: Lebanon Plans to Build New Grain Silos at Port of Beirut Based on the public remarks from Caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, Lebanon intends to build two new grain silos at the Port of Beirut. This comes amid recent concerns over Lebanon’s wheat import and storage capabilities as well as the structural integrity and imminent health risks associated with the current silos that were damaged by the August 4th, 2020 Port Explosion. [AP News]
Although there is great public sentiment to create a monument from the remnants of the Beirut Port silos, politics as usual has suspended the clean up of the area, resulting in intermittent fires and continued erosion of the site. The memories of the fallen and the massive destruction of the explosions must be preserved. How to do that and build silos as proposed in three locations to rectify the damage and provide for contingencies for grain storage is a dilemma. Acting Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, has a sound plan, but before he can get started, a public reconciliation must take place honoring the site, the victims, and the survivors.
-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.