Rear View – Lebanon in review (22 August 2021)
19 August: U.S. to help Lebanon obtain foreign gas
The Lebanese Presidency announced that the US has been working on a plan to boost Lebanon’s supply of gas. Gas will be transported from Egypt, through Jordan and Syria to arrive in Lebanon once funding has been secured from the World Bank.
World Bank funding will both pay for the Egyptian gas and repair and strengthen electric transmission lines and gas pipelines, US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothey Shea said.
“President Aoun expressed gratitude to the United States ambassador for her efforts in achieving this step, which is beneficial to all Lebanese facing a severe economic and living crisis,” a statement from the Lebanese President said.
The statement concluded by promising to put forth Lebanon’s best efforts toward the realization of this project.
Lebanon has been suffering from widespread power outages that are worsening living conditions and disrupting the functioning of critical sectors, including the crumbling healthcare system.
19 August: More delays in new government negotiations
Despite recent optimism expressed by both President Aoun and PM-designate Mikati towards the formation of a government soon, increased demands by other factions in parliament make this seem increasingly unlikely and have stalled progress in the negotiations.
Allegedly, unhappy groups in Parliament are intensifying their demands for positions in the future Cabinet with the intention of forcing Mikati out: an outcome Aoun does not want.
Lebanon will not be able to rise out of its current crisis without the formation of a government. Mikati stated that he would continue his efforts, despite the ongoing difficulty posed by sectarian and factional rivalries.
19 August: Over 14,000 Lebanese lose internet access
As fuel shortages persist across the country, internet connectivity has become increasingly unreliable, isolating more and more users. At least 14,000 people in Lebanon have lost access to the internet.
Over the past few days, telecommunications company Ogero, which offers both telephone line and landline services in Lebanon, has suffered several blackouts and malfunctions that has disrupted internet access all over the country.
Asharq Al-Awsat reports that Beirut’s internet outage affected 14,000 subscribers out of a million.
Since Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh stopped subsidsing fuel, the problem has escalated, Ogero director Imad Kreidieh said. Importers stopped supplying diesel fuel to the market after Salameh’s decision.
Due to this, some Ogero centres that have run out of fuel have ceased to operate completely.
19 August: Iranian fuel for Lebanon may result in sanctions
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed Iran has sent an oil tanker with fuel to bolster Lebanon’s dwindling supplies. Former PM Saad Hariri has warned that, as this action violates US trade sanctions with Iran, Lebanon may be exposed to risks and sanctions too.
Nasrallah cautioned the US and Israel from intercepting the shipment, claiming it will be used for essential services such as “hospitals, food manufacturers, bakers, private generators, and medical companies.” He also promised more ships were to follow to address the fuel shortage that has hit Lebanon. Neither Nasrallah nor his representatives provided details about how or where the first shipment would arrive in Lebanon.
Iranian news organisation Nournews reported that the shipments were all bought by a group of Lebanese Shiite businessmen.
Nasrallah was further criticized by Hariri for declaring the ships Lebanese territory, rejecting the way Lebanon is treated as an Iranian province, and claiming Lebanon will become as heavily sanctioned as Venezuela.
20 August: Fuel shortage continues in Beirut hospitals
Despite receiving local and international aid and fuel supplies from the Lebanese Army, three Beirut hospitals are suffering from a critical fuel shortage. At Al Makassed Hospital, the American University of Beirut Medical Center and the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, fuel reserves are rapidly depleting and cannot be sustained for much longer.
Hospital officials at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital tweeted last Thursday that the facility had not received electricity since Monday.
In the 72 hours to Friday last week, the hospital was operating solely on generators. Officials said its fuel reserves were diminishing and the government had not responded to their pleas for assistance, despite repeated calls and correspondence.
Under normal circumstances, such news would be shocking. However with Lebanon’s current political and social instability, this is becoming a dangerously common occurrence, and the nation’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse
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