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Rear View – Lebanon in review (16 May 2021)

Rear View – Lebanon in review (16 May 2021)

10 May: Motorists Queue as Petrol Shortages Worsen

As if they don’t have enough to worry about, motorists queued for hours last week across Lebanon as fears of an imminent end to the country’s fuel subsidy drove demand for a commodity many believe to be in short supply higher and prices even further.

With the government bankrupt and unable to pay its sources, this kept urgent oil stocks on offshore tankers, causing supply to dry up and shortages to reach critical levels.

Queues extended into streets as drivers waited to fill their cars. Some stations rationed the amount of fuel sold to customers, mostly taxi drivers. Other stores closed down entirely.

However, Fadi Abu Shakra, representative of the union for fuel distributors and gas stations in Lebanon, said that the confusion and fear surrounding gas supply was “unjustified.” He denied news reports that oil companies have notified distributors of an end to fuel subsidies.

11 May: US Sanctions 7 Lebanese linked to Hezbollah

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on seven Lebanese linked to the militant Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its financial arm.
The development comes as Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, including a loss of trust in the country’s once booming banking sector.
The Treasury said six of the seven sanctioned were the group’s “shadow bankers,” who used the cover of personal accounts at certain Lebanese banks to evade sanctions against Hezbollah’s financial arm. They transferred approximately $500 million over the past decade, it said.
The seventh sanctioned person, Ibrahim Daher, is one of Hezbollah’s chief financial executives who oversees the group’s overall budget, including the funding for its operations.

11 May: Lebanese Aeronautical Engineer joins the RAAF

From Lebanon to Australia, young Rosemary Taouk became the first Lebanese to join the Royal Australian Air Force as an aeronautical engineer.
 
Ms. Taouk and her family migrated to Australia in 2013, where she enrolled at the University of Sydney and attained her Bachelor of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering, and enlisted in the RAAF in 2016. Rosemary’s inspiration for military service came from her father who served in the Lebanese Army.
 
“Girls should not compromise their dreams and ambitions,” she said last week, “we were preceded by women who struggled to clear the way for us.”

14 May: Turks Cut Electricity Supply to Lebanon 

Turkish company, Karpowership, last week shut down its generators and with it the power supply that provided many Lebanese homes with a few additional hours of electricity every day. A spokesperson for the company said it was sorry but that they “tried our best to avoid such a decision.”

“For 18 months, we have been exceedingly flexible with the state, continually supplying power without payment or a payment plan, because the country was already facing very hard times,” the spokesperson said reading from a statement from the company.

They added that: “No company can operate in such an environment, an environment fraught with direct and unjustified risks.”

Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister Mamdouh Mutair, had for months warned that the country was heading to “total darkness” if no emergency funds were secured to keep the lights on.

16 May: Fears Increase over Lebanon being drawn into Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Fears are rising that Lebanon will be drawn into the escalating conflict between the Palestinians and Israeli which has resulted in nearly 145 Palestinians, being killed, all civilians including 30 children and over 1000 injured. In comparison, 10 Israelis including two soldiers have died in the attacks.
 
In southern Lebanon demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians were held for the third day at the Lebanon-Israel border and followed the death of a youth shot dead by Israeli soldiers as a group of young men stormed the barbed wire fence last Friday, carrying the flags of Palestine and Hezbollah. Rockets were fired from Lebanese territory toward Israeli settlements on Thursday night, but no party claimed responsibility for the incident.
Former MP Marwan Hamadeh said on Sunday: “It shows that Hezbollah is not in a hurry to abandon its cards, and Lebanon has become hostage to a decision that comes from Tehran.”
 
In his Sunday sermon, the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi called on “the authorities in Lebanon to control the southern Lebanese border and prevent the use of Lebanese lands as a missile launch pad.”

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