This Week In Lebanon: 5/1/2022

Sunday, May 1, 2022


May 1, 2022

Van Hollen, Young Urge Administration to Engage with Lebanon to Support On-Time, Free, and Fair Parliamentary Elections 
On April 28, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN) sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraging the Biden Administration to support free, fair, and on-time elections. The Senators wrote that “[t]he importance of Lebanon proceeding with these parliamentary elections on time cannot be understated. This vote will be the first since the popular uprising in October 2019 and would be a critical step to restoring confidence and stability in Lebanon’s political process. We ask you to engage with your Lebanese counterparts to urge them to proceed with these elections on May 15, with appropriate funding allocated, and in a fair and transparent manner.” [Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen]


“This letter authored by Senators Van Hollen and Young complements a companion bipartisan letter from the US House of Representatives signed by more than twenty members on April 6th. The upcoming elections will decide whether a new parliamentary majority is elected that represents economic and social change, or result in the same old impasse among sectarian interests. It has been said that a low voter turnout will signal more of the same, while a large turnout may signal that change and reform is on the way. With billions of dollars in aid held in abeyance until parliament passes reform measures, it is up to the Lebanese people to decide their own fate and future by going to the polls this month.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Cedar Oxygen Just Allocated $100M For Economic Cardioversion In Lebanon
The Paris-based fund is attempting to revitalize the economy by providing $100 million in loans for struggling businesses. Their aspiration is that this measure of economic cardioversion “shock” will help jumpstart local businesses who have been struggling in the midst of the financial crisis. [The 961]

“When Cedar Oxygen started in 2020, there was muted optimism about its chances to inject capital into reviving the business sector in Lebanon. Now, with some input from the Central Bank, it has become a showpiece for the capacity of the private sector, spurred by expatriate investments, to breathe life into the economy. Lebanon, true to its heritage in Phoenicia, one of the sources of global trade and mercantilism, once  relied on its own resources to succeed. Now reduced to a pauper state, it is time for the people and the business community to come together and vote new life into Lebanon.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Standoff with Lebanon Banks Could Derail IMF Deal, Minister Says
According to Reuters, Minister of Economy and Trade Amin Salam spoke on the status of the IMF deal with Lebanon saying, “We won’t be able to secure a full IMF deal without the banking restructuring. It’s a major piece of the prior actions . . . You need the government, the central bank and the banking sector to be on the same page. You can’t do it if they’re not all on one page.” The article adds, “The ABL called the plan ‘disastrous’, however, and said it would leave banks and depositors shouldering the ‘major portion’ of what the government says is $72 billion in losses.” [Reuters]


“Once again we are faced with the perception that the banking community puts its interests ahead of the people when invoking the ‘injustice’ of the banking reforms. The reality is clear – someone has to bear the burden of the $72 billion in the country’s debt and it should be shouldered equitably across all stakeholders. The ABL is right to argue for a just assignment of responsibilities, but how can it refuse to accept any significant responsibilities after enabling the mess that got us here for 30+ years? Destroying what is left of the state’s assets is also short-sighted. The process of liquidating the national debt can be borne with pain that brings promise rather than leaving the balancing act to a corrupt system.”

-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.