This Week In Lebanon: 4/23/2022

Saturday, April 23, 2022



April 23, 2022

Amal Loyalists Attack Supporters of Rival Electoral List in Sarafand
Last Saturday, supporters of Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement confronted participants of opposition groups traveling to a rally in Sarafand. They blocked the road leading to the event venue and violently attacked those who were planning to attend. Supporters of the lists claimed security forces were late to arrive to the scene and the Amal Movement has denied any involvement in the incident. [Naharnet]


“A large turnout in the upcoming parliamentary elections could signal a positive change in the makeup of the parliament. In order for there to be a good electoral turnout; however, voters must be assured that they can cast their votes without violent repercussions and that their votes will be counted and not tampered with. The violence in southern Lebanon is not a good sign that fair and unfettered elections are possible. The Minister of Interior and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) have a critical job on their hands to reassure voters that they will be protected at the the ballot box and that the election will be conducted in a free and transparent manner. The US and other countries have provided election support to the ISF and Ministry, along with appropriations from the Lebanese government. The Ministry must act on its electoral mandate and, importantly, communicate with the public to reassure them of the integrity of the election process.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Mufti Says Solutions Should Not be at Depositors’ Expense
This past week, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan stated that “preserving people’s deposits and savings” is a necessity in solving Lebanon’s financial crisis. He stated that this solution “should be at the expense of those who plunged the country into the current deterioration at all levels.” [Naharnet]

“Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan is not a man to mess with. We met him recently and he is seriously concerned with the health and welfare of his people and of Lebanon. His concern for the treatment of the small depositors in the banking system and the need to protect them should not ring hollow with Parliament as the economic malaise affects the entire population, not just his Sunni coreligionists. No one concerned with their family’s welfare can afford to not vote in the May elections.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Banking Secrecy Law: A Deep Dive into the New Bill
On Holy Thursday, Lebanon’s cabinet debated a bill that proposed removing a key pillar of support for Lebanon’s banking secrecy law, which has been in place for almost 70 years. This is following the lifting of banking secrecy as a precondition from the IMF to convert the staff-level agreement into an authorization to release part of the $3 billion in funding for Lebanon over the next four years.  [L’Orient Today]


“While the proposed legislation on reforming the bank secrecy practices is long overdue, it is still incomplete. Banks and officials still have the capacity to rig investigations in the absence of a monitoring mechanism and an independent judiciary that can hear appeals and follow through with indictments as needed. If Lebanon is to rebuild its banking sector, it must do so with guarantees for tax authorities to audit accounts, open investigations of funds transfers, and pursue those who are evading taxes. While some measures still have to be taken to meet the IMF requirements, this is a move in the right direction and parliament should strengthen, not weaken, the bill as it moves through the approval process.”

-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.