This Week In Lebanon: 1/15/2022

Saturday, January 15, 2022

January 15, 2022

French Foreign Minister: UAE to Join French-Saudi Fund for Lebanon
On Tuesday, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced in a parliamentary meeting that the “visit by President (Emmanuel) Macron enabled the Gulf (Arab countries) to renew ties, which saw (the creation of) a joint Franco-Saudi fund to support the Lebanese, which will be helped tomorrow or the day after with a contribution from the United Arab Emirates.” [Reuters]


“The decision by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to join with France and the US in support of helping the Lebanese is an important breakthrough. ATFL has called for Gulf countries’ support of UN programs that provide direct aid to the most vulnerable communities, address the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, and assist private education and civil society programs. Such actions will position the Gulf states as reliable international allies by directly addressing the needs of the Lebanese people.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Bipartisan Leaders of Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee Raise Concerns Over US Policy in Syria

The group of four sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to resist any normalization of the Assad regime in the international community. The leading Democrats and Republicans in Congressional foreign policy making expressed concern over a number of Arab allies of the US signaling a return to diplomacy with the current Syrian regime. They also requested an interagency briefing on Syria with the participation of the National Security Council. [Senate Foreign Relations Committee]

“Crafting a nuanced policy towards Lebanon that moves it towards recovery involves recognizing the geopolitical realities of the Middle East. However, it should not signal to our Arab allies that now is the time for a rapprochement with the Assad regime. Unfortunately, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and lopsided support for Israel are signals to our adversaries that there is a power vacuum and to our Arab allies that they have to manage their own affairs. The US will need to make a greater diplomatic investment in the region to better support our allies and counter our adversaries.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy Jean AbiNader

Lebanon’s Crippled Economy Hobbles into New Year

For over two years, Lebanese with US Dollars in Lebanese banks have faced strict restrictions on withdrawals. Last month, Lebanon’s Central Bank issued a directive to double the exchange rate on Lebanese Pound withdrawals from dollar deposits. The response was chaotic as people rushed to withdraw savings at the favorable rate. Experts warn that this may worsen inflation because the Central Bank may print more Lebanese pounds to keep up with demand. [Al Jazeera]

“Lebanon is out of magic wands and parlor tricks to shore up the economy. Three steps are required to move toward economic renewal. 1) Agree on a national  budget detailing guidelines for fiscal policies of spending and taxation. 2) Complete an agreement based on that budget with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to free up significant funds and investments over the next three-five years. 3) A government that will seriously implement the reforms agreed to with the IMF. What’s missing? Ask the parliamentarians if they are ready to make the sacrifices needed for Lebanon’s recovery, if not, don’t forget to vote on May 15 if you are qualified.”

-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.