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Lebanon in  May 2023

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May 3-5,2023

  1.  Lebanese Government Proposes Plan to Relocate Syrian Refugees to Third Country (Janoubia). Lebanese officials have proposed to address the issue of displacement with senior UN officials worldwide. They emphasize the need for an international conference on displacement in Lebanon and its threat to the Lebanese state. 
  2.   Total Inks Contract for Drilling Rig, Set to Begin Work on Lebanon’s Block No. 9 (Al Nahar). On Tuesday, French oil giant Total Energies announced that, in partnership with Italian company Eni and Qatar Energy, it had signed a contract with Transocean to lease a platform for drilling an exploratory well in Block No. 9 off the Lebanese coast.

May 4, 2023

  1.  UNHCR: Raids on Syrian Refugees in Lebanon on the Rise (Syria TV). The UNHCR spokesperson in Lebanon stated, “We have received reports from refugees and other sources indicating increased raids on Syrians in both Mount Lebanon and North Lebanon. We have also received reports of Syrians being detained intending to deport them, including some registered with the UNHCR.“

May 5, 2023

  1. Saudi Ambassador Continues Tour of Officials: The Presidential Elections is a Lebanese Internal Matter (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, reaffirmed the Kingdom’s position on the Lebanese presidential election as a “Lebanese internal political matter,” according to the spokesman for the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon after Bukhari met with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai, in which the Saudi ambassador began the second day of his tour, on Lebanese religious and political leaders.

May 17, 2023

  1. France Issues Arrest Warrant for Lebanese Central Bank Chief (New Arab) A French investigating magistrate on Tuesday issued an international arrest warrant for Lebanon’s central bank chief Riad Salameh…His lawyer said Salameh failed to appear for questioning by French investigators who want to know how he amassed sizeable assets across Europe.

May 18, 2023

  1. Iraq Extends Agreement Supplying Lebanon With Fuel (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Council of Ministers agreed to secure Lebanon’s total needs of oil derivatives needed to operate power stations…The agreement extended between both countries under the same previous conditions includes an increase of 50 percent in the quantities exported to Lebanon annually, to be 1.5 million tons, the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) reported.

May 19, 2023

  1. Central Bank Governor Crisis: Calls for Resignation Persist as Questions of Integrity Surround His ‘Cold-Tempered’ Stance (Al Nahar). The political sphere is embroiled in controversy over how to resolve the crisis surrounding the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, especially in light of French involvement and repeated calls for his resignation from various factions. In this context, informed sources from the Banque du Liban told “An-Nahar” that “the Governor’s resignation before the end of his term is not on the table”…It is expected that the Lebanese judiciary will be notified through Interpol of an international arrest warrant issued against the governor by a French investigating judge.

May 20, 2023

  1. Lebanon Receives The Interpol Warrant For The Arrest Of Riad Salameh (Aawsat). The Lebanese judiciary is “verifying” the validity of the French accusations against the “central” ruler.

May 21-22, 2023

  1. Hizballah Conducts Military Maneuvers in Southern Lebanon, Saying They Will Rain Down on Israel with Precision Missiles (Al Nahar). Hizballah official Hashem Safi Al-Din, in his speech at the end of a military maneuver conducted by the party in southern Lebanon, addressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, saying: “If you think about expanding your aggression to undermine the equations that we made with our blood and our ability, then we will be ready to rain down on you, and you will witness dark days that you have not seen before…the Israelis should know well that we mean what we say.”
  2. Prominent al-Qaeda Leader Apprehended in Lebanon (Al Nahar). A particular unit from the Lebanese Intelligence Directorate has apprehended a citizen known as (T.M.) in the town of Deir Ammar in the North…(T.M.) is one of the most prominent leaders of the “Al-Qaeda” organization and a founder of its cells in Lebanon. Additionally, he played a significant role in aiding the establishment of the terrorist organization “Fatah Al-Islam.”

May 24, 2023

  1. Germany Informs Beirut of Arrest Warrant for Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh (Al Nahar). According to a high-ranking judicial source who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday, Germany has verbally alerted Lebanon about an arrest warrant for Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh. The charges include corruption, forgery, and forming an illicit group for money laundering and embezzlement.

May 25, 2023

  1. Lebanon Agrees to ‘Dollarize’ Financial Aid Designated for Syrian Refugees (Zaman Al Wasl). This is a first in the history of Syrian asylum in Lebanon, which dates back to 2013. Previous Lebanese governments have consistently disbursed grants for Syrian refugees in Lebanese pounds, declining to provide the financial aid stipulated by the World Food Program—$27 per refugee per month—in US dollars.

May 26, 2023

  1. Walid Jumblatt Steps Down as Head of Druze Political Party after 46-year Tenure (Al-Nahar). Walid Jumblatt, a Druze militia leader during the Lebanese civil war turned politician, announced on Thursday he is stepping down as head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), a position he has held since 1977.
  2. Lebanon to Introduce Higher Denomination Banknotes as Inflation Soars (New Arab). Lebanon’s finance and budget committees approved on Tuesday a draft law allowing larger banknotes to be printed as the country continues to experience hyperinflation.

 

May 27, 2023

  1. Intelligence Sources:  Hizballah is Preparing to Attack American Targets in Syria (Syria TV). The American “Long War Journal” quoted two US intelligence officials saying that the “Golan Unit” of the Lebanese Hizballah is conducting military maneuvers to prepare for attacking US forces operating in Syria.
  2. Nasrallah Warns IDF Intel Chief:  We Are the Ones Threatening War (Jerusalem Post). Amid recent security tensions in the north, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke on Thursday night for the “Day of Resistance,” where he marked 23 years since the IDF left Lebanon and responded to statements made by the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate Aharon Haliva. “You are not the ones threatening war; we are the ones who do so,” Nasrallah emphasized. “And any such war will include all of Israel’s borders.” He said: “Any wrong action in Palestine, Syria, or Iran could lead to a major war.”
  3. UN Dollar Aid to Syrian Refugees Raises Controversy in Lebanon (Al Hadath). Lebanon is mired in an unprecedented economic and living crisis, and many citizens are now looking at the Syrian refugees amid the growing wave of hostility towards them. The announcement by the United Nations and its partners two days ago of resuming cash assistance to refugees in a double currency (i.e., the Lebanese pound or the US dollar) increased the pain and oppression among the Lebanese, and many of them poured out their anger on the refugees. Voices were raised among politicians or on communication sites and the media to demand a reversal of this matter.
  4. UN Suspends the Provision of Cash Assistance to the Displaced for the Next Month (Al Mayadeen). Today, the United Nations announced the suspension of providing cash assistance to the displaced in the two currencies for the next month when discussions continue with the Lebanese government about the appropriate mechanism to follow…This decision of the United Nations comes after a press conference held by the Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Al-Hajjar, yesterday, in which he announced the ministry’s refusal to “dollarize” aid for the displaced, considering that it would enhance their survival in Lebanon. The number of Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon due to the crisis in their country is approximately 1.5 million, and nearly 900,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most suffer from difficult living conditions.
  5. Washington Is Investigating the Sources of the Lebanese Central Bank Governor’s Wealth (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanese judicial sources reported that the United States of America had entered the line of investigation of the source of the funds of the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, while the judicial circles in Beirut are awaiting the arrival of the “red notice” in the middle of next week, circulated by the International Interpol against Salameh, based on the German arrest warrant issued against him and a number Among those close to him, at a time when voices are rising internally calling for Salama’s removal from office, after moving a vast number of files that are haunting him in Lebanon and abroad.

May 30, 2023

  1. US Prepares New Regional Intel Hub Within Forthcoming Beirut Embassy (Intelligence Online). Caroline Glick, Senior Contributing Editor at JNS and Newsweek columnist, highlighted on her Twitter account the Intelligence Online article, “The Biden administration is building a massive intelligence collection center in Hezbollah-controlled Beirut. What could go wrong?”
  2. Christian Parties Choose Candidate in Bid to Break Deadlock (The New Arab). Amid a catastrophic financial crisis and political instability at all levels of governance, Lebanon’s major Christian parties have picked Jihad Azour as a candidate who they think could break Lebanon’s crippling presidential impasse…Azour, 57, is a former finance minister who heads the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)…He is widely considered to be a technocrat who could help usher in the economic stability Lebanon needs as the country faces the worst financial crises in its history…However, almost as quickly as Azour’s name was mentioned, Hezbollah, Amal, and their allied political coalition, the Loyal to the Resistance bloc, who prefer Sleiman Frangieh of the Marada Movement as president, were out to denounce the idea.

May 31, 2023

  1. Lebanese Army Frees Kidnapped Saudi National Near the Syrian Border (New Arab). Lebanon’s army intelligence freed a Saudi national who was abducted on Sunday in Beirut and also arrested some of those involved, the army announced on Tuesday… An online army statement said that Saudi citizen Mashari al-Mutairi had been freed in an operation along the Lebanese border with Syria.

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