This Week in Lebanon

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Heidi Ahmed
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DECEMBER 20, 2020
Ashraf Rifi Says Iran Sent the Ammonium Nitrate
Aoun Pushes for Unified Standards
New Aid Distribution Model to Lebanon

 

Ashraf Rifi Says Iran Sent the Ammonium Nitrate
Major General Ashraf Rifi said in his testimony before Judge Fadi Sawwan that Iran had sent the ammonium nitrate shipment that caused the Beirut port explosions in August. He said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sent the shipment to Hezbollah originally. Rifi’s statement comes in response to the lawsuit filed against him by the Gathering of Hezbollah’s Lawyers. He claimed that quantities of the ammonium nitrate shipment has also been used by the Syrian regime. (Naharnet)

ANALYSIS

“If true, Iran used Lebanon as a transshipment point for Hezbollah to distribute ammonium nitrate to terrorist operations in ‘Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, and other Arab and foreign countries.’ This process led the largest non-nuclear explosion in the world, potentially caused by Hezbollah and Iranian negligence and desire to spread terrorism. The results: over 200 Lebanese dead, more than 6,000 injured, and upwards of 300,000 people left homeless. Lebanon and the international community must get to the bottom of this catastrophe and punish those responsible.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


Aoun Pushes for Unified Standards
This week President Michel Aoun again called for the adoption of “unified standards” concerning the new government formation. He said the difficulties faced in forming a new government can be resolved by adopting unified standards, adding that they would enable the new government to confront major challenges facing the country and ensure cooperation between the executive and legislative authorities. (Naharnet)

ANALYSIS

“What does ‘unified standards’ mean? It means nothing new – continuing to apportion ministries according to sectarian sensibilities rather than what’s best for Lebanon. This kind of coded language doesn’t fool the Lebanese who understand that Aoun insists on his blocking third of the ministers, since two-thirds are required for adoption of any policy. The marriage of convenience among Amal, Hezbollah, and the Free Patriotic Movement, therefore guarantees stalemate and Lebanon’s continued deterioration.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader


New Aid Distribution Model to Lebanon
At an international aid conference this month the World Bank, United Nations, and European Union introduced a new model for distributing aid to Lebanon that would disburse funds directly to nongovernmental groups and businesses. Called the Reform, Recovery, and Reconstruction Framework, the new model pools funds into a mechanism that empowers civil society organizations and the private sector. (Human Rights Watch)

ANALYSIS

“The Recovery, Reform, and Reconstruction Framework emerged from the latest French efforts to craft an international response to Lebanon’s multiple catastrophes. It is based on a novel notion in Lebanese political culture…putting the people at the center of discussions to define and develop solutions for the country’s recovery. This may be a challenge to implement but it clearly signals the intention for moving from autocracy to democracy in how critical decisions are made and carried out.”
-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.