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Lebanon in August 2023

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August 1,2023                                

  1. From University Professor to Governor of Banque du Liban: Wassim Mansouri’s Journey and Political Challenges (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Wissam Mansouri’s appointment as First Deputy Governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank faced uncertainties over the past three months, with calls for his resignation causing concerns about a critical vacancy in the institution. His background includes legal advisory roles to the Ministry of Finance and Parliament.
  2. Israeli Army Officials Warn: Likelihood of War with Hezbollah Highest Since 2006 (Al Jazeera). Amid protests over judicial legislation, concerns arise that Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, may test Israel’s patience and exploit internal weaknesses. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the growing tension with top security officials. While military intelligence believes Nasrallah is not seeking war, he might be ready to engage in conflict if necessary. The government’s push to change the judicial system has raised security consequences, weakening Israel’s deterrence against its enemies

August 2,2023

  1. Palestinian General Among 11 Killed in Ongoing Clashes at Lebanon Refugee Camp (Times of Israel). Fighting between Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, and Islamist groups in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon has entered its third day. The clashes have resulted in the death of 11 people and left over 40 others injured. The violence started on Saturday evening and intensified when a leader from Fatah and four of his comrades were killed in an ambush.

August 3,2023

  1. Lebanon Appeals to Kuwait to Rebuild the Nonsense of the Port of Beirut (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanon’s Minister of Economy, Amin Salam, seeks Emir of Kuwait’s assistance in rebuilding wheat silos destroyed in 2020 Beirut port explosion. Salam highlights food security challenges after explosion disrupted wheat storage, leading to increased wheat imports from diverse sources. Cooperation agreements with Turkey and Egypt aim to address needs, but Salam emphasizes the need for rebuilt silos to stabilize supplies.
  2. France Mediates to Prevent an Escalation Between Israel and Hezbollah (24 News). Former French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, appointed by President Emmanuel Macron, is reportedly mediating between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah to prevent potential escalation. Le Drian met with Hezbollah representatives, urging them to calm border tensions with Israel. Israeli Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevy inspected the borders with Lebanon following increased Israeli military presence. Amidst Hezbollah’s warnings and Israel’s readiness plans, France’s role as mediator seeks to avert further conflict in the region.

August 4,2023

  1. World Bank’s Directive Plan Shapes Beirut Port Reconstruction Amid Challenges (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Beirut Port reconstruction stalls despite a World Bank plan. The plan envisions port areas transformed into residential and tourist zones, including space for gas exploration. The process faces funding challenges, investor caution due to instability, and geopolitical complexities. French involvement through agreements and expertise is notable. The reconstruction seeks to balance economic growth, history preservation, and geopolitics.
  2. Lebanon Warns Palestinian President that Troops May Intervene if Clashes Continue in Refugee Camp (Haaretz). Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to demand an end to the clashes between Palestinian factions in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp. Mikati warned that Lebanese troops may intervene if the fighting continues. The camp has witnessed fierce battles between Fatah and Islamist groups, leaving dozens dead and wounded, and displacing thousands.
  3. At Lebanese Border, Herzog Warns Hezbollah Not to Test IDF (Israel Hayom). President Isaac Herzog visited a military post on the Lebanon border on Wednesday, delivering a stern message to Hezbollah amid increased provocations by the Iran-backed terror group. “Let no one among our enemies be mistaken – especially Hezbollah across the border. The IDF is very strong, organized and ready for any scenario,” Herzog posted to the X social-media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

August 5-7,2023  

  1. Saudi Embassy Urges Citizens to Leave Lebanon Amid Armed Conflict Concerns (Zaman Al Wsl). The Saudi embassy in Beirut has issued a statement advising its citizens to promptly depart from Lebanese territory and avoid conflict areas. The embassy emphasized adherence to the decision barring Saudis from traveling to Lebanon. The advisory comes in the wake of clashes between Palestinian factions and armed groups, resulting in casualties.
  2.  Lebanese PM Reassures Arab Nations Amid Embassy Warnings (Al Nahar). Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has responded to the warnings issued by the Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti, and German embassies to their citizens in Lebanon. Mikati, after consulting with military and security leaders, stated that the overall security situation does not warrant panic. He directed Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib to reassure Arab nations about their citizens’ safety and urged Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi to convene the Central Security Council to address potential challenges and maintain security across the country.

August 8,2023

  1. Lebanon Reassures Arab Nations Amid Embassy Warnings Over Ain al-Hilweh Events (Al Jazeera). Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister, Bassam Mawlawi, has affirmed his country’s commitment to the safety of Arab and foreign nationals. In response to warning statements from several countries regarding the security situation following the events at Ain al-Hilweh camp, Mawlawi expressed, “We assure the embassies of Arab countries that we maintain the security of Arab nationals.” He emphasized the significance of the statements from Arab nations and underlined that Lebanon’s security data do not indicate a widespread escalation beyond Ain al-Hilweh. The government’s efforts to ensure stability and protect citizens, tourists, and foreign nationals continue amidst the recent clashes in the camp.

August 9,2023

  1. Lebanon Mobilizes Naval Forces against Israeli Boats Said to Be in Lebanese Waters (I24). Local Lebanese reports indicate that boats originating from Israel were violating what was said to be Beirut’s sovereignty. The Lebanese army mobilized naval forces against Israeli ships violating what was said to be Lebanon’s sovereignty, Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen reported. Earlier in the day, another Lebanese newspaper reported that U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstein would visit Beirut to “feel the pulse” for demarcating a land border with Israel after what was touted as successful maritime talks.

August 10,2023

  1. Iran is Moving Hezbollah on the Border.. and Israel is Watching (24). The Israeli newspaper “Maariv” reported that Iran is pushing Lebanese Hezbollah to move on the northern front and that the organization has allowed itself “more,” which could cause damage to Israel, which is closely monitoring the show. The newspaper dealt with the Israeli Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, visiting the Jabal al-Rous area on the Lebanese border.

August 11,2023

  1. United States, Britain, and Canada Sanction Former Lebanese Central Bank Governor (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The United States, Canada, and Britain imposed economic sanctions on financial corruption charges on the former Banque du Liban governor, Riad Salameh, who had recently left office without appointing a successor…These sanctions came when Salameh faced accusations at home and abroad, as convictions followed him one after the other when European countries began to investigate whether he had used his position to embezzle public money and create wealth behind it.
  2. Lebanese Army Begins Investigation and Confiscates Ammunition from Wrecked Hezbollah Truck (Al Jazeera). The Lebanese army confiscated a load of ammunition that was in a Hezbollah truck that overturned yesterday, Wednesday, on a highway in the town of Kahala, near Beirut, which sparked a clash between the town’s residents and the party’s members, which resulted in two deaths…And the Lebanese army announced – in a statement – the opening of an investigation, supervised by the judiciary, regarding the clashes in the town of Kahaleh, and an army force surrounded it and transported a load of ammunition from the overturned truck to a military center.
  3. UN Hands Lebanon Data on Syrian Refugees, Amid Human Rights Concerns (BBC Arabic). The Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had agreed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regarding Beirut’s request to disclose the data of Syrian refugees on Lebanese soil…This came during a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the Lebanese caretaker government, Abdullah Bouhabib, and a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delegation, including representatives from Geneva, Amman, Copenhagen, and Beirut

August 12-14,2023

  1. Nasrallah Receives Iranian Delegation for Discussion of Situation in Lebanon and Palestine (Al Nahar). The Secretary-General of “Hezbollah,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, received a delegation from the Foreign Policy and Security Committee of the Islamic Consultative Assembly in Iran, headed by the official of the committee, Jalalzadeh, and several deputy members of this committee, in the presence of Iran’s ambassador, Mojtaba Amani, where they reviewed the latest developments and situations in Lebanon, Palestine, and the region. 
  2. Crashed Hezbollah Truck Believed to Have Carried Iranian Anti-Tank Missiles (Times of Israel). According to security sources from an unidentified Middle Eastern country, a Hezbollah truck that overturned near Beirut is estimated to have been carrying Iranian anti-tank missiles. The accident sparked clashes with residents, and the Lebanese army seized the truck’s cargo. The incident is said to have caused embarrassment for Hezbollah, which has downplayed the situation. The attempted arms smuggling is believed to have been orchestrated by Hezbollah’s 4400 unit, and tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have been escalating recently, with threats exchanged between the two sides.
  3. Hezbollah: Next War Will Be in Israel’s Galilee, IDF Posts Will Become Graveyards (Times of Israel). The next war between Israel and Hezbollah will occur in Israel’s Galilee region, a senior commander in the Lebanese terror group warned on Saturday, the latest threat in an escalating war of words between the two sides. “Our battle will be in the Galilee, and if the enemy and its tanks enter Lebanon, they will not be able to leave,” the commander said in an interview with the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar TV network, which identified him as Hajj Jihad but blurred his face for the broadcast

August 15,2023

  1. Lebanon Judicial Source Says US Sanctions Against Salameh Do Not Constitute Evidence for his Prosecution (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The new sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department on the former Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, gave a moral impetus to the ongoing prosecutions against him and those close to him in Lebanon and abroad. Still, they do not provide additional evidence of the crimes attributed to him and do not constitute a presumption of accusation against him despite their moral impact on him and his family. Those close to him were included in these penalties…A Lebanese judicial source following Salameh’s files said, “The US sanctions have a moral impact on the former central bank governor, but they do not constitute material evidence of the accusations he faces in Lebanon and abroad.”
  2. Lebanese Army Arrests 134 Immigrants to Europe, While Spain Dismantles Network to Smuggle Syrians from Lebanon (Al Nahar). The Lebanese army announced that it had arrested on Saturday near the border with Syria 134 people, the vast majority of them Syrians, for trying to sneak illegally by sea to Europe, indicating that it had also stopped their Lebanese smuggler. The army said in a statement that [it had arrested] “in the town of Sheikh Zinad- Akkar, 130 Syrians and 4 Lebanese, for attempting to sneak across the sea illegally towards a European country.”

August 16,2023

  1. Libya Asks Lebanon to Release Hannibal Qaddafi from Detention (The National News). A top Libyan official has formally asked Lebanon to release Hannibal Qaddafi – the son of former Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi – who has been held in the country since 2015….Hannibal Qaddafi’s health has deteriorated since he began a hunger strike on June 3 over his continued detention without trial…His lawyer in Lebanon has said he has been taken to the hospital thrice since he started refusing food.
  2. Sayyed Nasrallah to the Enemy: You Will Be Taken Back to the Stone Age if you go to War with Lebanon (Al Manar). In his speech on August 14, the anniversary of the victory in the July war, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, stressed that the courageous and rapid return of the people after the victory in the war is what proved the military victory. He pointed out that since 2006, the Zionist army began to decline, weaken and weaken. He pointed out that the enemy moved from attack to defense, and even when it attacked Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, it shot from a defensive position.

August 17,2023

  1. After Deal with Israel, an Offshore Rig Arrives in Lebanese Waters to Drill for Gas (Times of Israel). An offshore drilling rig has arrived off Lebanon’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea and is set to begin operations in the coming weeks to search for gas. The drilling is expected to occur in Lebanese waters near the border with Israel, following a maritime border agreement between the two countries. Lebanon aims to discover gas reserves to alleviate its severe economic and financial crisis. The drilling rig is located near Tyre, and the drilling results are anticipated in two or three months. The gas exploration is being undertaken by an international consortium that includes TotalEnergies, ENI, and Qatar Energy.
  2. UNIFIL Commander Urges Lebanon and Israel to Resolve Border Tensions Before Security Council Renews UNIFIL Mandate (Al Naharar). The Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Aroldo Lázaro, has expressed concern about a series of incidents along the border in recent months that have increased tension. He urged the Lebanese and Israeli sides to “continue to benefit from the liaison and coordination mechanisms undertaken by UNIFIL while avoiding unilateral measures.”…During his tenure, Lazaro called a tripartite meeting with senior officers of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli army at the United Nations site in Ras Naqura,
  3. US Treasury Sanctions “Green Without Borders” for Supporting Hezbollah (Al Sharq Al Awsat). On Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions on the “Green Without Borders” association in Lebanon, accusing it of being an organization that covers up with “false environmentalism” to “hide the terrorist activities” of “Hezbollah” along the Blue Line with Israel…The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) stated that it had placed the “Green Without Borders” association in Lebanon and its director, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, within the terrorism-related sanctions lists, explaining that the association “provided support and cover for Hezbollah operations in southern Lebanon along the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel for the past decade while it has been operating openly under the guise of environmental activism.”

August 22,2023

  1. Lebanon’s Inflation Reaches 252% Amidst Economic Crisis and Political Stalemate  (The National). Inflation in Lebanon surged to a staggering annual rate of 252% in July as the nation grapples with its most severe economic crisis. The end of Riad Salameh’s term as central bank governor and a persisting political deadlock over the presidential election contributed to the turmoil. Hyperinflation continued for the 37th consecutive month, exacerbated by the devaluation of the currency by 90% in February. Rising housing, utilities, fuels, food, beverages, and transport costs drove the increase, with the Consumer Price Index rising around 7% from June 2023, as the Central Administration of Statistics reported.

August 23,2023

  1. Lebanese Army Facing Fuel Shortage (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Lebanese army stands a month away from depleting its fuel stocks and expending the Qatari and American aid funds that contribute to reducing the living burdens imposed on the military as a result of the deterioration of the purchasing power of the national currency. This requires the government to move quickly to meet the army’s needs, especially since its tasks have expanded beyond protecting civil peace and border control to include responsibilities that are not within its normal competence, such as combating drug and contraband trafficking,
  2. Lebanon Starts Gas Exploration in “Block 9″ (24). Total Energies and its partners Eni and Qatar Energy announced the launch of exploration activities in the ninth block in the southern Lebanese territorial waters. “Today, exploration activities were launched in Block No. 9 in Lebanon, during a visit to the Transocean Barents drilling rig, in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Minister of Energy and Water Walid Fayyad,” Total Energy and the two partners said, in a press statement.

August 24,2023

  1. Lebanon Investigates How Israeli Goods Ended Up on Shop Shelves (New Arab). Israeli goods have been confiscated from shop shelves and warehouses in Lebanon, the country’s national security ministry announced. The ministry said the products had been removed and “relevant parties had been summoned for questioning”, according to local reports. Israel and Lebanon have no official diplomatic ties, and the sale of Israeli goods is banned in the country.
  2. Concern in Lebanon About Expanded Role for International Forces in the South (Al Sharq Al Asawt). Lebanon is engaged in a difficult and unequal diplomatic battle at the United Nations, linked to amending the mission of the international emergency forces operating in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL). Influential countries seek to expand UNIFIL’s tasks and free their hand by moving in their area of operations without coordination with the Lebanese army, which raises concern. Hezbollah is apprehensive about UNIFIL’s role, which puts the international forces in the face of civilians in southern Lebanon who represent the incubating environment for Hezbollah, and warns of a recurrence of incidents of collision with it.
  3. Hezbollah Official Says Zionist regime must be wiped from the region (IRNA). “The Israeli entity must be wiped off the region completely, because this regime is not only a danger to the earth, but also a danger to humanity and the future,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said, according to Al-Manar news network cited by the IRNA. He also said Hezbollah managed to change the equations in the region. The remarks came after Israel Hayom argued in an article that the Zionist regime’s army is incapable of taking any decision to confront the growing power of Hezbollah due to its domestic problems.

August 25,2023

  1. Lebanon Grants License for Survey of Block 8 Offshore (An Nahar). Caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Walid Fayyad, stated that Lebanon has granted “Bright Skies” and “Geox” companies a reconnaissance license to conduct a three-dimensional seismic survey in block number eight in the Lebanese marine waters…Lebanon hopes that gas and oil discoveries will help it overcome the stifling economic crisis that has drained more than 98% of the value of the local currency, devoured a large part of the country’s foreign reserves, and caused frequent power outages in towns and cities. 
  2. Ukraine Asks Lebanon to Prevent Docking of Syrian Ship Carrying Stolen Ukrainian Grain (Swissinfo). According to the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon and a diplomatic note seen by Reuters, Ukrainian officials asked Beirut today, Thursday, to prevent a Syrian-owned cargo ship carrying “stolen” Ukrainian grain from docking in the Lebanese port of Tripoli…The Ukrainian mission said in comments to Reuters that the boat (Phenicia) was transporting six thousand metric tons of corn, which the mission considers stolen, from the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea…The memorandum sent to the Ministries of Transport, Finance, and Economy and the Customs Administration in Lebanon stated that maize “was stolen from storage units in the regions of Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson,” adding that the ship “violates international law.” [The mission] hoped that “(Lebanon) will not allow the Phenicia cargo ship to enter Lebanese ports to sell stolen Ukrainian grain.”

August 26-28,2023

  1. Presidential Vacancy Delays Energy Extraction Amid Crisis (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanon’s unresolved presidential vacancy hinders energy extraction, as French envoy prepares to address the issue.
  2. Beirut Rejects UNIFIL’s Independent Operations (Syria. TV). Lebanon opposes UNIFIL’s autonomy, emphasizing coordination with the Lebanese army.
  3. Lebanon’s Central Bank Rejects Lending, Urges Reforms (The New Arab). Acting Governor Mansouri asserts Lebanon’s central bank won’t lend money to the crisis-hit government, urging urgent financial reforms.

August 29,2023

  1. Global Committees Condemn Sovereignty Violations in Lebanon (Janoubia). Coordinating Committees (CCLF-CCLC-LACC) jointly condemn ongoing sovereignty violations in Lebanon and criticize efforts to legitimize an illegitimate armed group through diplomatic channels. They emphasize the threat to national security and urge international action.

August 30,2023

  1. Nasrallah’s Warnings to Israel: All Bluff and Never an Act (Times of Israel). Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned of severe reactions to any Israeli assassinations on Lebanese soil, responding to veiled threats by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aimed at Hamas leaders in Lebanon. Nasrallah declared that Lebanon will not be a battleground for Israeli actions and that any shift in the rules of conflict would not be tolerated. His comments come amid heightened tensions and a recent uptick in violence in the West Bank.

August 31,2023

  1. US and Iranian Envoys Visit Lebanon Simultaneously to Discuss Maritime Gas Exploration (Al Nahar). On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian and US Energy Envoy Hochstein visited Lebanon. Both envoys, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and US envoy Amos Hochstein, displayed significant interest in the gas exploration activities in Block 9 during their respective visits.
  2. Israel Warns of Potential Military Operation in Lebanon (Anadolu Agency). Israel’s UN representative, Gilad Ardan, warns that Israel is close to initiating a military operation in Lebanon due to “escalation of Hezbollah’s activity along the border.”

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