This Week In Lebanon: 7/18/2021

Sunday, July 18, 2021

JULY 18, 2021
PM-Designate Saad Hariri Resigns
Protesters Demand Immunities to Be Lifted
Foreign Diplomats Express Frustration with Lebanon’s Government

PM-designate Saad Hariri Resigns
After nine months of political deadlock, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri resigned this week. His resignation followed one last attempt at forming a government earlier this week when he submitted a new 24-minister cabinet proposal to President Michel Aoun on Wednesday. After Aoun and Hariri met to review the line-up, they failed to come to an agreement and Hariri announced he was stepping down. [NYTimes] Consultations to name a new prime minister are expected to begin Monday or after the Eid-al-Adha holiday on Tuesday. [Naharnet]


“While the choice of new leaders is up to the Lebanese, they have suffered greatly from government mismanagement and corruption. A new government, composed of qualified experts, must have a mandate to lead and implement reforms needed to stabilize the country and gain the release of international funds for Lebanon’s survival and renewal.”

-ATFL Statement
Read full statement here

Protesters Demand Immunities Surrounding Beirut Port Blast to Be Lifted
Families of the victims of the August 4 Beirut explosion have been protesting this week outside of the home of caretaker Interior Minister Mohamad Fahmy’s residence. Protesters gathered after Fahmy rejected Judge Tarek Bitar’s request to question General Security Chief Major-General Abbas Ibrahim. They have demanded that immunities given to Lebanese officials called in for investigation be removed. [Al Jazeera] President Aoun said on Wednesday that there would be no political cover for those negligent or guilty, but did not address Fahmy’s rejection of Judge Bitar’s request. [AP]


“The US should weigh in on the need for an independent investigation of the Beirut Port blast, to advocate for the inclusion of international experts to assist in the investigation and the lifting of immunities on individuals who are impartially vetted and relevant to the investigation. How this investigation is handled and the Port’s future operation will demonstrate whether Lebanon officials have learned any lessons at all. The US should also take the position that a new Beirut Port should be free of all political party influence, control, and financial interest.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Foreign Diplomats Express Frustration with Lebanon’s Government
Foreign diplomats have held multiple talks over the past two weeks to try to provide relief for Lebanon in the midst of the country’s multiple crises that have resulted in dire conditions for the Lebanese people. Diplomatic sources have expressed frustration as the international community has tried to help Lebanon and but has not found a willing partner in the Lebanese government. One source said, “sadly we can’t [help] because, opposite us, we have no one to talk to, or we do but they don’t have the means – or the willingness – to act.” [The New Arab]


“The Lebanese government seems to be working overtime to alienate any potential diplomatic allies. By ignoring the messages from the international community, the diplomatic corps, and its own people, the leadership seems intent on riding Lebanon to ruin while they are in the saddle. August 4th gives the people, civil society, and their allies in the government ample opportunity to send a message to the oligarchs – reform or step aside.”

-ATFL Policy Director 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.