This Week in Lebanon 11/07/2022

Monday, November 7, 2022
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November 7, 2022

Russia to Donate Wheat, Fuel to Lebanon
President Aoun’s Farewell Address
Lebanon’s Health Sector Worsens

Russia to Donate Wheat, Fuel to Lebanon
According to Naharnet, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially authorized a wheat and fuel grant to crisis-hit Lebanon, media reports said. The grant consists of 25,000 tons of wheat and ten tons of fuel oil. Caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh was informed of the approval overnight and the delivery date will be revealed within the next two days, the reports added.” [Naharnet]

RESPONSE

Considering the more than $700M in aid given by the US last year, it is good to see Russia step up during this time of need for the Lebanese people with wheat and fuel support. This offer is made while the US is making another important effort in support of the Lebanese people by facilitating a project to bring Egyptian gas through Jordan and Syria, and electricity from Jordan that will provide another 8 hours of electricity to the people of Lebanon. Issuing a sustainable tariff for electricity meets one of the two requirements necessary to starting World Bank funding for these projects.  The other is a requirement to begin the process of forming an independent electricity agency to regulate electricity price and reliability standards. Once the Lebanese government fulfills this requirement and the US Treasury Department signs off, power can flow, and hopefully within the coming weeks.

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel 

Outgoing President Aoun Attacks Head of Higher Judicial Council in Politicized Speech
According to L’Orient Today, “[In his farewell speech as the outgoing President of the Lebanese Republic, Former] President Michel Aoun focused a large part of his speech on Sunday on the head of the Higher Judicial Council Souheil Abboud, on whom he unleashed a direct attack.” [L’Orient Today]

RESPONSE
Former President Michel Aoun did not speak to rally the Lebanese around the need to elect a President and move the country forward towards recovery, nor did he speak sincerely about the need to shore up Lebanon’s failing institutions. No, rather than appear statesman-like, he resorted to the old trope of blaming others for the gridlock that now appears to be the outcome of the stalemate between him and the caretaker Prime Minister. Lebanon’s politicians have neither the vision nor the stamina to move ahead with the business of governing and rebuilding their country.

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Lebanon’s Health Sector Debilitated Amid Worsening Economic Crisis
According to Al Monitor, “Lebanon’s health-care sector is fighting for survival amid an economic collapse, with the lives of patients at risk as critical care facilities have been falling apart and for the majority of the population affording essential medicine has become a luxury.” [Al-Monitor]

RESPONSE

It’s clear that international assistance from donors such as the EU and the US are the only remedies for keeping health-care facilities operating. The costs of most procedures, scarce and insufficient medicines, and the migration of health professionals spells doom for Lebanon’s medical infrastructure. Even though 80% of facilities are private, the challenges to both the private and public sectors in health services are enormous. For a patient to complain that being in a hospital is like a death sentence due to inadequate facilities, personnel, and medications exposes the depths of despair of Lebanon’s once stellar health sector.

-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.