Rear View – Lebanon in review (10 October 2021)

Rear View – Lebanon in review (10 October 2021)

04 October: Beirut explosion investigator survives threats of removal

The Lebanese Civil Court of Appeal has rejected complaints made by three former ministers against Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator into the Beirut Port explosion. Bitar may now continue questioning defendants in the investigation.

In addition to the complaints being rejected, the three former ministers – Nohad Al-Machnouk, Ali Hassan Khalil, and Ghazi Zuaiter – who are also suspects in the investigation, have each been fined LBP 800,000 ($50 USD).

Judge Bitar’s investigation has also been repeatedly threatened by the political party Hezbollah.

05 October: EU ready to support government’s economic rescue plan

EU Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf said that the EU is ready to support the Lebanese government’s plan to rescue the debt-ridden country from its economic and financial crisis.
Taraf and the ambassadors of other EU nations met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati to discuss the Lebanese government’s financial recovery plan and ongo-ing cooperation between Lebanon and the EU, who are major trading partners.

At a press conference following the meeting, Taraf told reporters, “We know that policies in Lebanon are difficult. That’s why not everything that is announced can be implemented. But at least the plans and projects that have been spelled out from our viewpoint deserve support. We encourage in particular the government in its efforts to tackle the economic crisis through which the country is passing. The European Union will always stand by Lebanon’s side.”

07 October: Iran offers to build power plants in Lebanon

After a daylong meeting with top Lebanese officials, Iran’s foreign minister declared the nation was ready to help build two electricity plants in Lebanon within the next 18 months to ease Lebanon’s power crisis.

Tehran also promised to rebuild Beirut’s destroyed port. The Lebanese president commended the support Iran has offered Lebanon thus far regarding its crisis and following the deadly explosion at the Beirut Port last year

08 September: Lebanon Central Bank concealed warnings about current disaster

Swiss media outlet Le Temps revealed that the International Monetary Fund reportedly warned Lebanon’s Central Bank (BDL) about the nation’s current disaster in 2016. BDL Governor Riad Salameh allegedly deleted 14 pages of an IMF report that referred to Lebanon’s “immense financial weakness”.

Le Temps claims that the Central Bank removed key data from the report in order to conceal the upcoming crisis from Lebanese depositors and international investors. The IMF may also be responsible for Lebanon’s current crisis, since “its experts knew the country was heading for ruin.”

08 October: Lebanese villages protest escalating power outages

Theft and power plant failures have caused days-long power outages in villages across Lebanon. Protests have erupted amidst calls for the government to fix infrastructural damage and address the ever-dwindling fuel supply.

The theft of three kilometres of power cords in the town of Houqa has left the mountainous village of Hadchit without electricity for three days. Ousayra Street in Baalbek has been without power and consequently water for the same amount of time. In the town of Hermel, a group of people blocked the road at the Assi River bridge protesting the electricity shortages, as well as the worsening living conditions.

In the meantime, Electricité du Liban struggles to keep up with demand. Diesel shortages have caused two power plants, Deir Ammar and Zouk, to stop operating.

The Zahrani plant is still functional but its fuel reserves are also slowly running out. Despite the many shipments of fuel Lebanon has received in the past month, as well as the Irani fuel brought by Hezbollah, the blackouts problem remains far from solved.

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