This Week In Lebanon: 2/12/2022

Saturday, February 12, 2022

February 12, 2022

Ambassador: ‘No Wiggle Room’ On Date Of Elections
The US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea said to Reuters, “The international community is unanimous that the elections must be held on time in a fair and transparent manner . . . There’s no wiggle room.” The article continues, “Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said a failure to hold elections on time risked further straining ties with Western nations who could help Lebanon emerge from the crisis.” [Reuters


“Ambassador Shea’s clear statement that there is ‘no wiggle room’ to alter on-time and transparent elections in May should be followed by a US policy to impose sanctions on any individual found to be responsible for interfering with on-time, fair and transparent elections.” 

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

US Energy Advisor and Mediator Returns to Lebanon 

US State Department’s Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein, who has been mediating the maritime border negotiations between Lebanon and Israel as well as helping to facilitate energy deals among Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon via Syria, visited Lebanon this week. “We have an opportunity today. We have narrowed the gaps on the issue of maritime border demarcation and we can reach an agreement . . . We will not be the ones to conclude the agreement. Lebanon and Israel must decide to do so,” said Hochstein. [Arab News] “Mikati indicated that he would consult with President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to determine the Lebanese position on the talks, a statement issued by the premier’s office said Wednesday.” [L’Orient Today]

“So will this be a promising confidence-building step that would bring the hope of prosperity to South Lebanon and more energy security to the country or will it be trashed by differences among the ruling troika? The political logic that drives Lebanon has diminished the country to the status of beggar state and its people are shadows waiting for the slightest sliver of sunlight. May 15 can’t come too soon IF common ground can be found to oppose the same old solutions.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy Jean AbiNader

Lebanese PM Signals Difficulty in Agreeing Financial Plan

PM Najib Mikati has referred to agreement on a financial plan as a “difficult process.” The International Monetary Fund expects Lebanon to come up with a plan to address the $70 billion hole in Lebanon’s financial system as a starting point for talks with the government. Mikati states the budget, which requires approval from parliament, estimates spending at 47 trillion Lebanese pounds with a deficit of approximately 7 trillion Lebanese pounds (equivalent to $330 million in the parallel market). [Reuters]


“Getting consensus on how to clean up Lebanon’s finances is jeopardizing the Mikati government’s capacity to keep Lebanon’s economy from deeper paralysis. Now that the draft budget has been approved by the cabinet, it must go to Parliament for approval and then serve as the basis for negotiations with the IMF. Parliament is under the control of Nabih Berri who must now demonstrate leadership and act as an enabler who drives consensus forward so that the IMF negotiations can begin. It is in his hands. Will the country move forward or languish in the destructive status quo?”

-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.