Rear View – Lebanon in review (22 November 2020)
17 NOV: Bassil Ready to Dump Hezbollah
Gebran Bassil, former Foreign Ministers and current head of the Free Patriotic Movement, said in an interview last week that he would be willing to break with Hezbollah if the United States gave him something in return that would sustain stability for Lebanon.
Bassil also claimed that the Oct.17 protests were trying to politically assassinate him with the support of foreign powers.
17 NOV: Murders & Robberies Jump As Suicides Decline
Security indicators such as auto thefts and robberies have risen in 2020 compared to the same period last year, with murders increasing 104% from 63 to 104. The numbers based on ISF figures, also showed a 21% decline in suicides from 133 to 105 and 27.6% drop in road fatalities from 340 to 246.
Auto thefts showed the largest increase jumping 123% from 266 to 593 this year while robberies rising 48.4% from 1080 to 1602.
18 NOV: Lebanon Fails to Sign Media Freedom Communique
Lebanon abstained from signing the final communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting of the second Global Conference for Media Freedom. The Maharat Foundation revealed that Lebanon, represented by Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Charbel Wehbe, was the only country of the 37 member states of the Media Freedom Coalition, not to sign. The communiqué includes recommendations for countries, the most important of which are the protection of journalists and the promotion of freedom of the press and independent media.
19 NOV: Garbage Dumped at Sidon Municipality
Striking workers dumped bags of trash at the front door of the Sidon Municipality building for the fourth consecutive day. The workers from the Sidon waste-sorting plant, were protesting against the increasing garbage on their city streets due to the Council’s failure to collect the garbage.
Attempts to end the strike have so far failed as workers demand higher wages due to the collapse of the currency and economic crisis.
19 NOV: Clean Sweep at AUB Student Council Elections
Non-religious, secular candidates continued their clean sweep of senior positions at the American University of Beirut shoring up the presidency, as well as positions of Secretary and Treasurer of the University Student Faculty Committee last week. That means all members of the administrative body of the USFC are from outside the political establishment.
20 NOV: Subsidized Products Found On Foreign Shelves
Lebanese food products, including Najjar coffee and Picon cheese, which are subsidized by the Government, have been discovered on grocery shelves in Turkey and Kuwait. The discovery comes as the Lebanese face the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history and poverty approaches a staggering 60% of the population.
Kameh posted a photo on his Twitter account last Friday, showing “Najjar” ground coffee packs with the words: “A product subsidized by the Ministry of Economy and Trade” printed on them, for sale on a supermarket shelf in Turkey. A day earlier, a photo showing a “Picon” processed cheese pack on a shelf, believed to be in Kuwait, was also widely shared on social media platforms in Lebanon.
These reports were met with anger in Lebanon, where the prices of unsubsidized commodities have been soaring with the devaluation of the Lebanese pound. Caretaker Economy Minister, Raoul Nehme, summoned the heads of both companies demanding they prove the products were exported individually. Nehme said that the matter would be referred to the financial prosecutor.
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