This Week In Lebanon: 4/16/2022

Saturday, April 16, 2022



April 16, 2022

Saudi Arabia Rekindles Ties with Cash-Strapped Lebanon
Saudi Ambassador Waleed Bukhari has officially returned to Lebanon and is meeting with Lebanese officials. PM Najib Mikati also announced he will travel to Riyadh during Ramadan. The Saudis have also announced they will join forces with the French in providing humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people. [Al Jazeera]


“The decision of Saudi Arabia to send back its Ambassador to Lebanon and provide aid for the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese people are positive developments for Lebanon and the Gulf countries. When some Gulf countries cut off ties with Lebanon, they created a void, which enhanced Iran and Hezbollah’s influence in the country. The Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, can support the humanitarian, educational, and health needs of the Lebanese people without sending their aid through a corrupt government by going directly through civil society and multilateral organizations that directly address the people’s needs. We now hope that the UAE and Bahrain join with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar in supporting the Lebanese people and deserving institutions like the Lebanese Armed Forces.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Cabinet Approves Demolition of Beirut Port Silos
According to Minister of Information Ziad Makari the Lebanese Cabinet decided to move forward with the demolition of the defunct silos that were damaged by the Port of Beirut Explosion in August of 2020, based on a “technical report” that concluded the silos could collapse in the coming months. This comes amid popular pressure, particularly from the families of the victims of the Port Explosion, to keep the defunct silos standing so long as there is no conclusion to an investigation into the August 4th, 2020 explosion.  [Reuters]

“A firestorm is brewing in Lebanon over the planned demolition of the silos damaged in the Beirut Port explosion of August 2020. The families of the victims and a large swathe of civil society have been participating in meetings, demonstrations, webinars, and other expressions against a commercially-driven rehabilitation of the port area that ignores the physical and spiritual toll of damages to property and people. There are good reasons to remove the most vulnerable silos and convert the others into a memorial area much like other countries, including our own, have done. It would be a positive gesture by a government that finally shows respect to those who suffered.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

A Grass-Roots Science Movement to Rebuild Lebanon
Lebanon has a beautiful natural landscape that is threatened by an environmental crisis due to a high amount of air and water pollution. Najat Saliba, a professor at the American University of Beirut, responded by pairing environmental experts from across the world with local communities in Lebanon. Saliba’s project is locally-driven in that the communities apply for assistance and her organization identifies a global expert knowledgeable about the particular issue that each applicant community is facing.  [Nature]


“In my view, this is what Lebanese do the best. When not interfered with by government bureaucrats and obstacles, they find solutions to problems. On our last visit, I met with people rebuilding their communities to be environmentally proactive, women who were teaching technology skills to youth, NGOs that were feeding thousands of families, and doctors setting up rural clinics so that the marginalized families have access to basic medications and examinations. Now the Lebanese must face their greatest obstacle – a government that has shown little initiative to fix the electricity, clean up the water, improve transportation, and do the least harm possible to the common people. Get out the vote!”

-ATFL Vice President 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.