This Week In Lebanon: 2/20/2021

Saturday, February 20, 2021

February 20, 2021
US Representatives Call for Biden to Use the Magnitsky Act
$100 Million a Month in Transfers to Lebaneses
Aid to Port Blast Victims Said to Be Taxed

US Representatives Call for Use of Magnitsky Act Over Luqman Slim’s Assassination
US House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Michael McCaul and Chairman Gregory Meeks sent a letter to President Biden advocating for the the use of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against those responsible for Luqman Slim’s assassination. The Magnitisky Act would allow the president to investigate and impose sanctions for human rights violations like the murder of Luqman Slim. [Middle East Eye]


“Targeted sanctions that address corruption, human rights abuses, and terrorism, as proposed by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, should continue to be imposed by the US. Specifically targeted sanctions on individuals have proven effective without hurting the country at large. The US should be careful however not to impose sanctions as an end-all policy and avoid targeting one specific political party, group, or religion.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

$100 Million a Month Transferred to Lebanese From Expats
Western Union’s Online Money Transfer Chairman Toufic Mouawad has noted the concern and support from Lebanon’s expatriates for their families and loved ones in Lebanon. A total of $100 million is transferred through the service each month to help Lebanese cover basic daily needs and an average $600 per transfer is sent from abroad. The country is running low on fresh US dollars and these transfers have served as a lifeline for Lebanese. [The 961]


“Online Money Transfer (OMT), owned by Western Union, has made it possible for financial support to reach 150,000 Lebanese families a month thanks to friends and family members overseas. This precious support of some $100 million a month makes it possible for people to survive despite hyperinflation, scarce supplies, and higher consumer prices. This lifeline is another vital channel by which the Lebanese community abroad, estimated at some 12 million people, can offer hope to their families and Lebanon.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Aid to Port Blast Victims Said to Be Taxed
Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni announced that the Lebanese government will be filing a taxable income on aid given to Beirut blast victims. The aid they received should be registered as “exceptional revenues” Wazni announced following the 2021 public budget. The decision is found under number 47/1 in the budget, which the Lebanese Association for Taxpayers’ Rights is protesting. [The 961]


“I’m hoping this is fake news, but one never knows in Lebanon how much more oppression can be piled on the people by the leadership. Certainly a “care-taker” and not a “care-giver” government, these officials show little effort to hide their contempt for those they assume don’t have power. A depositor withdrawing the small sums they are limited to by the banks are forced to use a greatly depreciated exchange rate, a hidden tax that benefits the banks and the Central Bank. To tax those already struggling to make ends meet is reprehensible and morally bankrupt.”
-ATFL Policy Director 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.