This Week in Lebanon

Sunday, February 28, 2021
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February 28, 2021
US Conducts Airstrike in Syria
Patriarch Rai Calls for International Conference
Lebanese Pound Drops Further in Value

US Conducts Airstrike in Syria
On Thursday the Biden administration conducted an airstrike in eastern Syria in response to attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq and ongoing threats. The strike hit Iranian-linked facilities and officials believe the attack killed fighters associated Iran, including some from Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. [Washington Post]

ANALYSIS

“This attack, coming on the advent of US-Iranian talks, sends an important message that we, the US will not allow Iranian-sponsored attacks on US personnel and will respond to any such threat accordingly. It was measured and indicates that the Biden administration seems prepared for a negotiation with Iran that not only deals with curbing Iranian nuclear ambitions, but will also not tolerate Iranian proxy aggression in the region anymore.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


Patriarch Rai Calls for International Conference
Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai said on Thursday that he was determined to go ahead with his call for a UN-sponsored international conference in effort to resolve Lebanon’s political and economic crisis as government formation stalls continue. Christian parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, and the Kataeb Party have shown support for Rai’s call while Hezbollah and allies have opposed the internationalization of Lebanon’s crisis. [The Daily Star]

ANALYSIS

The attempt by the Patriarch is laudable and deserves support. Concurrently, the US and France should immediately intercede together with Lebanon’s leaders to persuade them of the need for a compromise reform government as a temporary solution through next year’s elections. The US and France acting visibly in tandem with the Rai initiative, could have an important impact on the current stalemate.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


Lebanese Pound Drops Further in Value
The Lebanese pound continued to fall against the dollar last week, trading on the black market at LL9,500 on Thursday. Government formation stalls in the midst of Lebanon’s economic crisis continue to push the Lebanese pound value down. Exchange dealers warn of the pound dropping further if no progress is made toward a new government this week. The pound has lost around 80 percent of its value over the last 16 months. [The Daily Star]

ANALYSIS

“Nothing shows the callous disregard of Lebanon’s oligarchy for the people than its willingness to allow Lebanon to fall into an abyss of their making just to prove their points and maintain their stranglehold on the government. Lebanon is on life support as it is. Will the international community stand by while the country becomes even a greater disaster or will the leadership somehow develop a conscience and put the people before their own welfare?”
-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.