Rear View – Lebanon in review (27 June 2021)

Rear View – Lebanon in review (27 June 2021)

23 June: US Linguist Imprisoned for Supplying Classified Info to Hezbollah

Lebanese-American Mariam Thompson was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to giving classified national defence information to Hezbollah in 2020.

Thompson worked as a linguist for a US Special Operations task force in Iraq and had top secret clearance. In January 2020, after a series of US airstrikes in Iraq targeting an Iranian-backed terrorist organisation called Kata’ib Hezbollah, a Lebanese friend of Thompson’s asked if she could provide him with information about the people involved in the airstrikes.

Thompson knew that this friend had strong ties to Hezbollah in Lebanon and agreed to pass on the information. By the time of her arrest in late February 2020, Thompson had revealed to Hezbollah the identities of at least eight US personnel, ten potential Iraqi targets and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures.

24 June: Ration Card For The Needy

A ration card for basic essentials has been proposed by Lebanon’s parliamentary committees to assist its needy population. As Lebanon’s economic crisis edges the nation further towards collapse, its impoverished population is growing rapidly and in need of government support. The Lebanese Lira has lost an estimated 90% of its value since the end of 2019.

While the ration card scheme was approved by parliamentary committees, it has not been referred to Lebanon’s Parliament itself, and it is unclear how it will be funded. Walid Jumblatt of the Progressive Socialist Party commented: “The ration card would have no value without coordination with the World Bank and without a government that adopts a reform policy.”

24 June: Lebanon Qualifies for FIFA Arab World Cup

A stunning second-half volley from Hilal Al-Helwe saw Lebanon beat Djibouti 1-0 to proceed to the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup which will be held in Qatar this November.

The game was 0-0 until the first minute after half-time, when Cedars’ forward Al-Helwe scored a goal off a pass from Mohammad Haidar. Cedars’ goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil saved an attempt at goal by Djibouti’s Mahabeh Mahdi in the 56th minute to secure Lebanon’s victory.

25 June: France and US to Pressure Lebanese Officials

France and the United States have agreed to act together to put pressure on Lebanese officials responsible for the political and economic crisis gripping the country, the French foreign minister said.

“We have decided to act together to put pressure on those responsible. We know who they are,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a news conference with US counterpart Antony Blinken in Paris. “We need to see real leadership in Beirut,” Blinken added.

25 June: Government to Start Financing Fuel Imports

Reuters reported that Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab approved a proposal to finance fuel imports at the rate of 3,900 Lebanese Lira to the US dollar, instead of the previous 1,500 Lira rate, amidst worsening gasoline shortages.

The weaker exchange rate, which will effectively decrease the subsidy on fuel, is expected to raise the price of gasoline for consumers but enable the government to supply fuel for a longer period of time.

Lebanon is in the throes of a financial crisis described by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history. Fuel shortages in past weeks have forced motorists to queue for hours for dribbles of gasoline.

26 June: European Countries Opens Doors to Lebanese

Middle East Airlines (MEA) has announced a list of European countries that now allow Lebanese and Lebanese residents with C visas to enter.

The list of countries is:

  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Greece
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain

Lebanese foreign residents who can enter Belgium and the Netherlands without obtaining a visa in advance are exempt from visa requirements, but they still need to obtain the necessary travel permits from the embassy before traveling. In addition, the only requirement to enter Belgium and the Netherlands is to fill in the passenger positioning form.

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