This Week in Lebanon: 12/28/2022

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


December 28, 2022

Primary Murder Suspect in UNIFIL Incident Identified, Arrested
Ranking Senators Urge Administration to Levy More Sanctions 
MP’s From Various Affiliations Submit Draft Personal Status Law

Primary Murder Suspect in UNIFIL Incident Identified, Arrested
On December 14th, an armored UNIFIL vehicle came under fire in the Southern Lebanese village of Aqbiya, killing Private Seán Rooney and wounding several others. Private Rooney was a citizen of Ireland, where his remains were returned. Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar were among mourners present at Pte Rooney’s funeral service in County Louth [last] Thursday.” Although several suspects were reportedly arrested since the incident, the prime suspect was allegedly handed over to the Lebanese authorities by Hezbollah and was taken into custody this past weekend. Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist group by the government of the United States. [BBC]

ATFL is outraged by the loss of Private Seán Rooney, who was killed in the line of duty, and we send our condolences to his family.  As the world watches closely, Lebanon must show the world that it is a country based upon the rule of law and that its judicial decisions are unimpeded by political interference. Hezbollah’s cooperation was an important first step in the investigation of this UN peacekeeper’s murder. Now, the Lebanese judiciary should move quickly in an unobstructed effort to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this terrible crime. 
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Ranking Senators Menendez, Risch Urge Biden Administration to Levy More Sanctions Against Corrupt Lebanese Financial and Political Elite
According to L’Orient Today, “The two top-ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the US Senate urged the Biden administration to levy more sanctions against Lebanon’s financial and political elite who are engaging in corruption and undermining the rule of law.” [L’Orient Today]


In a harshly worded letter to the government of Lebanon, two ranking members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote, “for too long, Hezbollah and others in Lebanon’s political class have continuously failed to prioritize the needs of the Lebanese people over their own narrow agendas. . .” Regardless of how you spin it, the challenge of negotiating US economic and humanitarian assistance to Lebanon comes at a delicate time. It’s long overdue for the MPs to demonstrate that they are capable of taking concrete steps forward with the national interest at heart.

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

MP’s From Various Affiliations Submit Draft Personal Status Law
According to L’Orient Today, “Several Lebanese MPs proposed a unified personal status law to the Lebanese Parliament on Monday. The law proposal was worked on in partnership with the KAFA (enough) Violence and Exploitation NGO, an organization that works towards ending violence against women, the NGO announced on Dec. 14.” [L’Orient Today]


Personal status laws have long been obstacles to how the Lebanese interact on family matters.  The article points out that “Lebanon lacks a civil code regulating personal status matters such as marriage, inheritance, and child custody, and so relies on 15 separate personal religious-based status laws and courts for the 18 recognized sects.” One of the themes of the thawra was asking for a law to pass Lebanese citizenship through the mother, still a thorny issue that remains resolved. How can a country build its identity if it denies citizenship to its youth? Parliament should not hesitate to draft revisions to its personal status laws so that it can eliminate sectarian and gender divisions carrying little merit in a changing society. 

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

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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.




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