In Lebanon, the Next Six Months Will Shape the Next Six Years Money Transfer Firms Replace Banks in Crisis-Hit Lebanon
Lebanese Anxious Over Possibility of War as Tension Flares Between Hezbollah and Israel
“The next few months will be seminal for this small but critical country’s future. It is up to the Lebanese people and their representatives to make the right choices in the selection of the next president and other leaders who will fill important positions and implement urgently needed policies in the months and years ahead. The U.S. and international community have shown an interest in continuing to give Lebanon the attention and support it deserves, to help ensure that the country indeed turns a corner toward revival and does not slip into full state failure and decades of chaos and ungovernability. But that will all significantly depend on a government and parliament taking brave steps toward IMF reforms, a maritime border agreement and electing a new President on time that represents the needs of the Lebanese people.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel and Middle East Institute President Paul Salem
Money Transfer Firms Replace Banks in Crisis-Hit Lebanon One Lebanese man said that those relying on traditional banks to receive their money “will die 100 times before cashing it.” Money Transfer Agencies are now the go-to for currency exchange, credit card, tax payment services, and even the establishment of wedding registries. Many companies are now compensating their employees through money transfer firms rather than banks. [Arab News]
A continuing sign of consumer desperation is the level of cash transfers being handled by wire transfer agencies providing services too costly through the banking system. The Central Bank issues circulars limiting the scope money transfer agencies, but entrepreneurial companies are developing work-arounds that preserve their flexibility at fees much less than banks charge without the limitations imposed by the banking sector. Once again, the people must find workable solutions for daily survival. Only reforms in the banking sector and currency stabilization can give people the trust to bank again.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Lebanese Anxious Over Possibility of War as Tension Flares Between Hezbollah and Israel This past week, Israel conducted military maneuvers on the Israel-Lebanon border and US Envoy Amos Hochstein met with Lebanese leaders to discuss the latest developments on the maritime border. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned that “if the [Israeli] extraction of oil and gas starts in September before Lebanon gets its rights, we are going to a fight and have set a goal and we will act accordingly.” [L’Orient Today]
The liabilities of an open media are clearly on display in the abundance of conspiracies surrounding the maritime boundary negotiations. On the Lebanese/Arab side speeches by Hezbollah’s Secretary General inflame common citizens as well as those willing to join a flotilla claiming to protect “Lebanon’s oil.” Similar stories are awash on social media in Israel about the threats that are being made against property and life in northern Israel The bottom line is that this is a real chance for some confidence-building between the two countries that may have a more salient long term impact than actual energy revenues.
-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.