Rear View – Lebanon in review (27 December 2020)
22 Dec: The Mutated UK Coronavirus Strain Reaches Lebanon
Lebanon reported its first case of a new fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus.
The case was recorded on a December 21 flight that arrived in Beirut from London, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said.
Lebanon has so far confirmed 165,933 cases and 1,353 deaths as a worsening economic crisis in decades takes a toll on its health care services.
23 Dec: Killing Linked to Blast Probe
The murder of Joe Bejjany a telecom employee and freelance photographer last week has been linked to the ongoing investigation into the August port blast.
Beijany was shot with a silencer outside his home in the village of Kahaleh as he was about to take his two daughters to preschool only a week after getting approval to migrate to Canada. A number of recent murky deaths have fuelled similar rumours of links to the explosion, even as security officials say they have no evidence of a connection. Earlier this month, authorities pledged to probe the death of a retired customs officer who was found dead in his home.
24 Dec: Hariri Crushes Christmas Hope of New Govt
Hopes that Lebanon would have a new government before the end of the year have been dashed with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri warning of “clear complications hindering the birth of the new leadership.”
The caretaker prime minister addressed the Lebanese people, saying: “We want people who tell us ‘no’ when we are wrong…President Aoun and I need a government of specialists and experts who know what they are doing, without being politicized.” Hariri said that despite attempts to halt Lebanon’s collapse, “the existing political problems are clear.”
25 Dec: Pope Singles Out Lebanon in Christmas messages
“I am deeply troubled to see the suffering and anguish that has sapped the native resilience and resourcefulness of the Land of the Cedars,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope expressed “my affection for the beloved people of Lebanon, whom I hope to visit as soon as possible”. He said he hoped the country could “stand apart from conflicts and regional tensions.” The Pope traditionally mentions countries in his Christmas Day message, but this year he marked out Lebanon and Sudan as the two countries that have endured particular difficulties this year.
25 Dec: Syrians Intercept Israel Attack Missiles
Syrian air defences intercepted missiles fired by Israel on the western province of Hama, Syrian news agency SANA reported. Lebanese people living in villages north of Tripoli, reported seeing and hearing Israeli warplanes flying overhead shortly before the strikes, according to AFP correspondents.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an observer group, said the missile strikes killed at least six fighters. Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
27 Dec: French Investigators to Question Ghosn
French investigators will visit Beirut next month to question former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. He was arrested in Japan in November, 2018 on charges of breach of trust, misusing company assets for personal gain and breaking securities laws by not fully disclosing his compensation.
He denied any wrong-doing and fled Japan while on bail awaiting trial in an escape that made headlines last year. He is unlikely to be extradited from Lebanon, where he has been living since last year. Ghosn, a Lebanese, Brazilian and French citizen, arrived in Lebanon on December 30, 2019. In addition to his trial in Japan, the businessman, 66, faces several legal challenges in France. These include allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets from his time at the helm of Renault-Nissan.
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