This Week In Lebanon: 5/20/2022

Friday, May 20, 2022



May 20, 2022

Lebanon’s Pro-Hezbollah Bloc Loses Parliamentary Majority
Hezbollah lost a parliamentary majority and its allies also suffered losses across the country. This includes the Hezbollah-aligned Free Patriotic Movement, who were dethroned by the Lebanese Forces for status as the largest Christian party in parliament. 16 anti-establishment political newcomers and nine other anti-establishment candidates were elected, totaling 22 seats for pro-change representatives. However, the group has yet to form any kind of voting bloc. [Al Jazeera]


“This could either be a historical turning point in remedying Lebanon’s political and economic collapse or another missed opportunity. The election outcome is surely a positive result for those who voted for reform and change. It serves as a reminder that the Lebanese people are determined to bring change to their country. However, elected officials must come together and create a viable coalition able to pass an IMF package and other reforms in the face of opposition from career politicians and political parties that profit from the status quo. While the task at hand is certainly a challenge, the Lebanese people have injected new momentum into parliament that will hopefully spur needed change.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Lebanon’s Elections Promise Change and Reforms
The author here argues that the election outcome is positive, given that many reforms are badly needed in Lebanon. He notes that both reformists and anti-Hezbollah candidates one across the country, even making some surprising upsets against establishment politicians. Revitalizing democratic institutions in Lebanon are key to reform, he concludes. [Eurasia Review]

“This cogent analysis discusses both the promise and the paradox of Lebanon’s election outcomes. Without diminishing the obfuscating role of the Hezbollah-Amal alliance, it points to the inherent challenges faced by the opposition, reformists, and anti-Hezbollah forces who must build a common platform of reform and revival. It is not enough to merely oppose; it is time to build. The Lebanese Forces, now the largest Christian party, and many reform-oriented former MPs, now re-elected, have the insights and experience to build common campaigns with the newcomers. They must act together to actually move Lebanon forward through the upcoming elections for Speaker of the Parliament, Council of Ministers, Prime Minister, and President. Let the coalition-building begin!”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

US Holding up Energy Deal between Egypt and Lebanon: Ambassador
The World Bank-endorsed Levantine Energy Deal, which sees Egypt exporting energy supplies to Lebanon, is currently on pause while Egypt awaits confirmation from the US that sanctions will not be imposed. The deal involves transit fees for the Assad regime since the energy supplies would be transmitted through Syria. Under normal circumstances, this would trigger Cesar Act sanctions. While US officials have conveyed that sanctions would not be applied, Cairo remains unconvinced. A US official acknowledged that it was waiting for the commercial contracts to be finalized before offering any further assurances. [Al Arabiya]


“Finger-pointing is not a useful posture in supplying critical gas and electricity supplies to Lebanon. Egypt is waiting on iron-clad guarantees that it will not be subjected to sanctions at any point. The US says it is waiting on final commercial agreements and financing steps to go ahead. What a mess. A serious senior person needs to intervene and take this in hand and move it quickly through the bureaucracies. There can be no more excuses for inaction on either side as Egypt’s posture seems disingenuous given the assurances over the past months. This just feeds into the opponents of the deal and keeps the Lebanese in the dark.”

-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.