This Week In Lebanon: 2/5/2022

Saturday, February 5, 2022


February 5, 2022

McCaul, Risch Express Concern over Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt Energy Deals
Two leading Republican lawmakers have written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressing their concerns over the energy deal that the Biden Administration is facilitating between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have conveyed their concern that this deal could benefit the Assad regime could also trigger sanctions from the US Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. [House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority Website


“The Biden administration and key bipartisan members of Congress deserve credit for collaborating on ways to ease the suffering of the Lebanese, whether it be the pipeline-electricity deal through Syria, funding the livelihood accounts for the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, or supporting the poor in Lebanon with aid being funneled through international and local NGOs rather than the Lebanese government. The Lebanese American community will support these efforts as long as the Biden Administration continues to ensure that any aid to the Lebanese government is conditioned on a reform agenda.  At the same time the Administration should make clear that any actions that involve energy transport through Syria will not change the US position with regard to US-Syria policy.” 

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Remarks by Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg at the Union of Arab Banks Conference 

Assistant Secretary Rosenberg reiterates US prioritization of countering terrorist financing. She notes that Hezbollah continues to use bank transactions and currency exchange operations to fund its agents. She condemned the exploitation of Lebanon’s banking system by corrupt politicians, especially Hezbollah. The Assistant Secretary importantly also remarked that US markets need to be strengthened so that they are no longer utilized for money laundering.  [US Department of the Treasury]


“The decisive tone of Secretary Rosenburg’s remarks indicates that as the US cleans up its own act as a safe haven for illicit money, that the US expects bankers and financial institutions in the rest of the world to close down their safe havens for corruption, and more importantly, address the siphoning of funds by political and economic elites who are eroding their countries’ stability and economic security. The temptation for power brokers to misuse their access to public funds is a disease that afflicts many states, and until the people are put at the center of how wealth is distributed and property protected, it will continue.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy Jean AbiNader

UNDP Launched Initiative To Aid Lebanese Companies Export To The US

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) commenced an effort to assist 16 to 18 Lebanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agri-food and artisanal sectors to access the US market. On January 29th, the “Fast Track Export Support Program” launched with goods loaded to be shipped to the United States. The economic crisis and pandemic have hit Lebanese small business especially hard and a key goal of this program is to help small businesses capitalize on export opportunities to the US. [The 961]


“The US and International Aid agencies understand that the economic security of the Lebanese cannot depend on foreign assistance lest they become dependent on non-sustainable sources of support. Time for the Lebanese to have a ‘hand-up rather than a hand-out.’ The more that can be invested in rebuilding small and medium size businesses that provide over 70% of employment outside the government, the sooner people will have their livelihoods and dignity restored. Time for Parliament to pass reforms that remove obstacles to commercial growth and turn the heat up on corrupt practices.”

-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.