Iranian Embassy Announces Fuel Shipments to Lebanon, Set to Arrive in Next Few Weeks Can Lebanon’s ‘Change” Coalition Fix a Broken System? Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climate Crises?
Iranian Embassy Announces Fuel Shipments to Lebanon, Set to Arrive in Next Few Weeks As reported by the Hezbollah-affiliated media station, Al-Manar TV, the Embassy of Iran in Lebanon announced Iran’s readiness to send ships loaded with fuel to Lebanon ‘within one or two weeks’, to which a Lebanese energy ministry spokesperson responded, “any gift from anywhere is welcome”. [Reuters]
This raises the question on why it has taken so long for the US to make good on its offer to clear the way for the Levantine energy deal that would double the amount of additional electricity for Lebanese households. This deal has been in the works for months. Who’s holding it up now, the US or Lebanon? There should be no excuse by either party if they care about easing the suffering of the Lebanese people. It takes quite an effort to make Iran appear as a benevolent regional actor and friend to the Lebanese people and somehow policy makers in Washington and Beirut are miraculously managing to do just that.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Can Lebanon’s ‘Change” Coalition Fix a Broken System? Adnan Nasser writes, “In a press conference held in Beirut’s historic Sodeco neighborhood on September 3, the members of parliament (MPs) who make up the ‘Change’ bloc in Lebanon’s parliament announced their agenda to elect a new head of state. They agreed that any individual running for president must meet a list of standards in order to earn their vote of confidence. The thirteen lawmakers, who were elected on the values of Lebanon’s 2019 revolution, said ‘popular pressure methods’ will be applied if a new president is not elected before October 20.” [The National Interest]
It’s not a sure thing that Lebanon can elect a compliant president on time who embodies the compromises that leave the country in the same shape and still under the discretion of the traditional parties. The country needs a significant change from the past if it is to survive. It is a bigger challenge than the ‘Change’ coalition or any other group can manage absent an unwavering commitment by members of Parliament to prioritize the people’s needs. So far, Parliament is acting as if everything will work out and that they can continue enjoying a status quo that has drained the state for the many and enriched the few. The Lebanese people deserve something better, beginning with transparency and openness from their representatives on the road to the presidency.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climate Crises? Mona Yacoubian, Senior Advisor, Executive Office and Middle East and North Africa Center at the US Institute for Peace, analyzes a recent UNDP report on development in the Middle East and North Africa. In particular, the report focuses on the effects of the pandemic and climate change. Yacoubian writes, “While the U.S. national security apparatus has already expanded its strategic bandwidth to include the destabilizing impacts of pandemics and climate change, lead implementing agencies such as USAID should continue to deepen engagement on these challenges.” [USIP]
Yacoubian’s analysis of the 2022 UN Arab Human Development Report leaves little to no surprises for those who follow Lebanon. It’s clear that Lebanon was in a mess before the pandemic. The recent forest fires highlighted the government’s inability once again to manage blazes. It also failed to do so in 2019 which helped to stir up public resentment that boiled over into the October 2019 demonstrations. Lebanon has the highest cost of living in the region, along with greatly weakened health and education sectors. In fact, the damage to students at all levels will take decades to repair, IF, the government is able to adopt the IMF reform package and once again have a functioning state. Without significant proactive measures, Lebanon will continue moving from paralysis to failure. .
-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.