Rear View – Lebanon in review (8 November 2020)
2 NOV: Blom Bank Makes HUGE Profits while Depositors’ Money Remains Blocked
With depositors still blocked from accessing their money in banks, Blom Bank’s financial statement, tweeted by economic journalist Omar Tamo, revealed that the bank made a net profit in excess of 1.15 Million Us Dollars between January and September 2020. The Bank’s profits are not an exception with other Lebanese banks continuing to rake in profits despite the economic collapse. In addition to the profits they earn from branches abroad, the reason their numbers are so strong is because they continue to earn high interest from loans to the Central Bank versus the miserly rates they pay on depositors’ money.
2 NOV: Independents Victorious in Rafik Hariri University Elections
Independents at Rafik Hariri University won the presidency of the Student Representative Committee after independent nominee Malak Laza gained the highest number of votes in this year’s election. The Independents’ list unprecedentedly won four seats out of nine, against a list consisting of an alliance between the Future Movement and Progressive Socialist Party.
3 NOV: Security Forces Attack Parents of Students Studying Abroad
Security forces attacked the parents of students studying abroad, during a protest in front of the Central Bank in Hamra. Parents were demanding the application of the student dollar law and denouncing the “procrastination of the banks.” The parents had attempted to tear down the external gate of the Central Bank in an attempt to meet with the Bank’s governor, Riad Salame. They insisted that it was their right to transfer their money to their children studying abroad, particularly after the parliament implemented the student dollar law.
3 NOV: Another Arrest Warrant Against Customs Chief
Acting First Investigative Judge, Charbel Abou Samra, issued another warrant for the arrest of the Customs chief Badri Daher, during ongoing investigations and hearings into the “Captagon Prince” case. An order for his arrest has already been made by another judge following investigations into the 4 August Port blast that killed more than 200 people and caused more than $USD15 billion in damages. However, President Aoun refuses to sign a decree allowing Daher to be arrested so he still remains at large and NO ONE has been held accountable for any wrongdoing and the gross injustice perpetrated against the people of Lebanon continues with the oversight and permission of the highest office in the country.
5 NOV: Syrian Refugee Sets Himself on Fire
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut revealed that a male Syrian refugee set himself on fire Thursday near their offices in Beirut. The Civil Defense transferred him to hospital after US security personnel attempted to save his life. While the motive remains unclear concerning this incident, there appears to be a growing trend among citizens to take such drastic action amidst a deepening economic crisis.
5 NOV: Record 94 Independent Candidates Running in AUB Elections
Despite boycotts by establishment groups from Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Future Movement, of the upcoming American University of Beirut student elections, a record number 94 candidates from the AUB Secular Club are running for seats.
The establishment groups have called on the administration to suspend the November 13 elections claiming there were “flaws in the preparations for the elections”, and that E-voting pressures students and “constrains their freedom of choice.”
The AUB Secular Club, responded saying the boycott was “nothing but a declaration of defeat in disguise,” and pointed to the inability of sectarian parties to address the youth after the October 17 uprising.
5 NOV: Solidere Extension Unlawful
The Lebanese State Council and Administrative Courts (LSCAC) ruled as “Unlawful” the decree issued by the government earlier this year, extending the duration of Solidere from 25 to 35 years allowing it to remain operating until 2029 instead of 2019. The report from the LSCAC noted that Solidere was originally established in 1994 as “a legal means to achieve a public purpose or benefit, which is the reconstruction of damaged places. Turning the means into an end by changing the real estate company’s tasks and extending its duration is unacceptable.”
6 NOV: GEBRAN BASSIL SANCTIONED BY THE US
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the Head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Gebran Bassil on Friday accusing him of acts of corruption against the Lebanese people and the country. “The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government [in Lebanon],” said the treasury’s secretary. The U.S. decision pointed to Bassil’s strengthening of his political base by appointing friends of his to official positions in 2017. Bassil, as Energy Minister in 2014, also approved several projects “that would have steered Lebanese government funds to individuals close to him through a group of front companies.” However, an American high-level official told Reuters that Bassil’s assistance for Hezbollah is what led the U.S. to sanction him.
Thanks for caring and for sharing
The more people that know, the more people can help.
Spread the word.