This Week in Lebanon

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Opinion by admin
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NOVEMBER 1, 2020
Aoun Meets with Russian Delegation
Beirut Port Reports of Corruption and Negligence
One Year After the Lebanese Protests

 

Aoun Meets with Russian Delegation
On Wednesday, President Michel Aoun met with Alexander Lavrentieve, Russia’s special envoy to Syria. They discussed Russian initiatives to return Syrian refugees back to Syria as well as the international conference to be held in Syria for the repatriation of the displaced. The Russian delegation met with other senior Lebanese officials as well to discuss the conference and bilateral relations between Russia and Lebanon. (Naharnet)

ANALYSIS

“I’m not sure what the Russians can do to help with refugee repatriation beyond lip service. International law is clear, refugee repatriation can occur when it’s voluntary, safe and dignified. The US should lead the international community by assisting UNHCR to better understand refugee family needs and wishes and look for ways to ease the numbers and burden in Lebanon. Can the US, working with the UNHCR, advance proposals that defend the rights of refugees while creatively addressing the pressure on Lebanon?”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel


Beirut Port Reports of Corruption and Negligence
The Beirut port, which handles an estimated $15 billion of trade per year, was full of corruption and negligence according to the accounts of nine people involved in its shipping and administration. The accounts were supported by import documents that a source showed to Reuters. One senior minister said, “The level of corruption in all layers of the state is beyond imagination. How much more corruption, like the port, is hidden beneath the cloaks of politicians?” He told Reuters that he received threats warning him “not to dig into corruption.” (Reuters)

ANALYSIS

“It’s no wonder the investigation of the Beirut Port blasts is going nowhere. According to witnesses, it is a microcosm of the system’s corruption and indifference to the interests of the Lebanese people. All of the political chiefs are culpable as their appointees evaded responsibility for the dysfunctional management and lucrative divvying up of revenues without similar concern for port security and transparency. How can the Lebanese believe that these same leaders are going to ever allow vitally needed reforms?”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader


One Year After the Lebanese Protests
Saad Hariri is working to put together his fourth government after Lebanon’s parliament voted him into the role of Prime Minister. The effort comes one year after Hariri resigned during government protests last October, and after the resignations of Prime Ministers Hassan Diab and Mustapha Adib. The Lebanese government is under pressure to make reforms in order to unlock IMF aid. (CounterPunch)

ANALYSIS

“The return of Saad Hariri may be either a brilliant stroke to have someone who understands the system in place or more of the same old warlord-dominated shell of a country. One year later, Lebanon aches under a crushing economic collapse, eroding security, continued failure of government-provided services, and ultimatums from key actors to maintain the status quo. The ingredients for success are clear; the will to make the reforms is absent. Where will Lebanon be a year from now?”
-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.