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Lebanon in September 2023

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September 1,2023

  1. Amos Hochstein: Turning Border Disputes into a Vacation Activity! (Anahar). White House Senior Adviser Amos Hochstein discusses border demarcation with Lebanon and Israel. After visiting southern Lebanon, including recreational sites, he considers resolving the long-standing border dispute following 2022 maritime demarcation. Tensions in the Hizballah-held area prompt discussions on ending land border contention. UNIFIL hosts meetings to address obstacles hindering demarcation.
  2. UN Extends Peace Mission in Lebanon; Appeals for Ain al-Hilweh Funds (The New Arab). UN Extends Peace Mission in Lebanon; UNRWA Appeals for Ain al-Hilweh Camp Funds. Security Council prolongs UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s mission after compromise. Resolution 2695 passes with 13 votes, UAE included; Russia, China abstain. UNRWA seeks $15.5M for Ain al-Hilweh fallout, repairing infrastructure, schooling, cash aid. Refugee camp clash aftermath

 

September 6,2023

  1. Lebanon Fears “Disguised Occupation” Amid New Wave of Syrian Displacement (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanon is grappling with renewed concerns over the Syrian displacement crisis as a new wave of refugees looms. Former President Michel Suleiman warns of a “disguised occupation” and calls for stricter penalties against those aiding illegal entry and employment. A ministerial committee is being formed to address the return of the displaced to Syria.

 

September 7,2023

  1. Mikati Assures UNIFIL of Lebanon’s Commitment to Southern Security (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati meets with UNIFIL Commander Aroldo Lazzaro to discuss Lebanon’s readiness to maintain southern security through cooperation with UN forces. Mikati affirms his government’s commitment to the UN Security Council’s decision to extend UNIFIL’s mission and calls for an end to “Israeli violations.”

 

September 8,2023

  1. Massive Palestinian Displacement Amid Heavy Clashes in Ain-al Hilweh Camp (Al Hurra). Renewed clashes near Sidon come after the Palestinian Joint Action Authority deployed a security force to apprehend suspects in a late July assassination. The unrest broke a month-long calm and involves gunmen armed with automatic weapons. The camp was established in 1948 and holds over 50,000 registered refugees.
  2. Lebanon Renews Iraqi Oil Supply Deal Amid Crisis (24). Lebanon’s Cabinet has approved the renewal of an agreement with Iraq to receive an additional 1.5 million metric tons of black oil. Initiated in 2021, the deal helps Lebanon fuel its power plants in exchange for medical goods and services. The approval comes as Lebanon grapples with severe economic and political instability.
  3. Israeli Chief of Staff Inspects Borders for Hezbollah Escalation (Press Bee). General Herzi Halevi, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, conducted a border inspection amid concerns of potential escalation with Hezbollah. The inspection coincides with internal debates over military conscription laws in Israel.
  4. Lebanon Blocks Syrian Entry as PM Warns of Threat to National Stability (Al Ghad, North Press).  Lebanon’s army blocked 1,200 Syrians from entering this week, amid Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s warning that the rising influx of mainly young Syrian refugees threatens national stability. A security meeting is slated for next week as Lebanon grapples with its own crises and an estimated refugee population up to 2 million.

 

September 9-11,2023

  1. Ain al-Hilweh Camp Violence Kills 14 Amid Presidential Uncertainty (Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Nahar). Ain al-Hilweh camp witnesses intensified clashes, leaving 14 dead. Ceasefire efforts falter, and sporadic gunfire continues. Lebanese army personnel are injured. Meanwhile, Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement engage in talks, aiming to back Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency and delay decisions until General Joseph Aoun’s retirement. French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian returns to facilitate the election process in Lebanon.

 

September 12,2023

  1. Iran’s Terrorist Base in Lebanon Near Israel Border Exposed (The Jerusalem Post). Defense Minister Yoav Galant unveiled images of an Iranian terrorist base at Qalaat Jabbar Airport in southern Lebanon, only 20 kilometers from Israel’s border. Galant emphasized that despite using proxies like Hezbollah, Iran remains the greatest threat to Israel. He warned of a heavy price if Hezbollah engaged in conflict and vowed not to let Iran transform Syria into a new Hezbollah stronghold armed with powerful missiles.
  2. UN Rights Chief Calls for International Probe into Beirut Port Explosion (24). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, urged an international investigation into the Beirut port explosion, expressing concern over the lack of accountability. He cited the need for a global fact-finding mission due to suspicions of interference in the ongoing investigation amid Lebanon’s economic crisis and governance challenges three years after the explosion killed over 200 people and injured thousands.

 

September 13,2023

  1. New US Sanctions Target Hezbollah Financiers (Anahar). US Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah Financiers in South America and Lebanon, Citing Terrorist Activities.

 

September 14,2023

  1. UK and Lebanon Conduct Extensive Joint Military Exercise (The New Arab). The UK and Lebanon launch Exercise Pegasus-Cedar, their largest-ever joint military drill. British and Lebanese forces will train in various tactical skills, including weapons handling, reconnaissance, close-quarters combat, and air support operations, over a 10-day period.
  2. UNIFIL Reports Progress in Easing Lebanese-Israeli Tensions (Al Awsat). The United Nations Interim Peacekeeping Force in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) has announced advancements in reducing border tensions between Lebanon and Israel. The development follows a tripartite meeting with representatives from both armies, facilitated by UNIFIL. Specific details of the discussions remain confidential.
  3. A Palestinian Agreement to Establish A Ceasefire in Ain Al-Hilweh Camp (Al Jazeera). Fatah and Hamas leaders reached a ceasefire deal for Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. The agreement follows clashes between Fatah members and the “Muslim Youth” group, resulting in casualties and displacements.

 

September 15,2023

  1. US Ambassador Warns Lebanon of Political Stagnation Dangers (Al Sharq Al Awsat). US Ambassador Dorothy Shea warns that Lebanon’s ongoing political stalemate could lead to increased complications and dangers, stressing the need for swift action to elect a new president and address the country’s crises.
  2. Renewed Clashes in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Camp (Al Mawq3). Fighting has resumed in the Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon, with 15 dead and 150 injured since last Thursday. Violent confrontations involve the Fatah movement and armed groups using heavy weapons and rockets.

 

September 18,2023

  1. Lebanon’s Crisis Multiplies: IMF Funds Deplete Amid Reform Inaction, Saudi Talks on Stability (Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Nahar). The IMF criticizes Lebanon for failing to implement crucial economic reforms, exacerbating the financial crisis as IMF funds run out. Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador Al-Bukhari and Lebanese official Mohamed Choucair focus on restoring normal relations to stabilize the country.

 

September 19,2023

  1. Lebanon’s Mikati Urges Global Support for Syrian Refugee Crisis (Al Manar). Caretaker Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, calls on the international community to support Lebanon in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis during his meetings at the United Nations General Assembly. He also notes that the government has completed the reform projects required by the International Monetary Fund.

 

september 20,2023

  1. Lebanese PM Mikati Conveys Concern over Syrian Refugee Influx to UN Secretary-General; Legislative Proposal Emerges for Refugee Resettlement (Syria TV). Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss Lebanon’s economic burden due to the influx of Syrian refugees. During the meeting, Mikati emphasized Lebanon’s limitations in accommodating more refugees given its current financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Lebanese House of Representatives is contemplating a law that mandates the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to resettle Syrian refugees to third countries within a year. The law, proposed by Representative Elias Jarada, outlines a legal framework for the temporary residence and deportation of Syrians in Lebanon.

 

September 21,2023 

  1. Qatari Envoy in Beirut to Mediate Presidential Crisis as International Divides Surface (Lebanon 24). The envoy’s visit comes after a five-year committee was tasked with finding a solution. The meeting revealed differences between France and the U.S., Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. No candidate names were discussed, and the meeting concluded quickly due to these differences. A final statement from the committee has yet to be released, but the U.S. is pushing for a specific election timeline.

September 22,2023

  1. Arrest Rumors Swirl Around Ex-Antiquities Guard Over Israeli Ties (Janoubia). Rumors are circulating about the arrest of a man identified as H. Zidane for suspected dealings with Israel. Zidane, who was previously employed as a guard at Tire al-Bahriyya antiquities, was dismissed five years ago due to his general behavior. Security sources have not officially confirmed these allegations.

 

September 25,2023

  1. Lebanese Parties Call for Structured Approach to Syrian Displacement Crisis (Sharq Awsat). Lebanese politicians escalate calls to manage the Syrian displacement crisis. Proposals include state-supervised camps and stricter law enforcement. Some label the Syrian presence as “occupation” and call for ending financial aid. The caretaker government initiates measures, including a delegation to Syria.

 

September 26,2023

  1. Lebanon’s Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration: A Beacon of Economic Hope or a Mirage? (Arab). Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati touts offshore oil and gas exploration as a potential economic lifeline. Exploration in Block No. 9 near Israel shows promise, but faces challenges like border disputes and corruption. Successful finds could boost the economy and attract foreign investment.
  2. Iraqi Investigation Uncovers Narcotics Hidden in Pomegranate Shipment from Lebanon (The New Arab). An Iraqi newspaper investigation found that a pomegranate shipment from Lebanon to Iraq concealed large amounts of the narcotic Captagon. The shipment was under a Baghdad-Beirut oil-for-goods agreement. The discovery, after passing through Syria, has raised questions about Lebanese and Syrian involvement and heightened concerns over Iraq as a drug trafficking route.

 

September 27,2023

  1. Lebanese Protesters Storm State Electricity Company Amid Ongoing Crisis (Al Monitor). Angry protesters stormed Lebanon’s state electricity company in Beirut over high bills and outages. Security forces intervened, and talks with EDL’s director followed. The ongoing crisis, exacerbated by the 2019 financial collapse, underscores the urgent need for sector reforms to unlock international aid.

 

September 28,2023

  1. Cyprus Seeks EU Aid for Lebanon to Curb Syrian Refugee Influx, Offers Joint Patrols (Al Araby). Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou has called on the EU to provide financial and technical assistance to Lebanon to manage the Syrian refugee crisis and prevent them from reaching Cyprus. Nicosia has also offered to donate speedboats and conduct joint patrols with Lebanon. The move comes as smuggling routes shift towards the Lebanese coast and away from Turkey. Lebanese authorities have recently intercepted several migrant ships, and the issue was discussed between the Cypriot Ambassador and Lebanon’s Interior Minister.
  2. Hezbollah Official Claims Erosion of Israeli Deterrence Amid Multiple Threats (El Nashra). Hezbollah’s Wafiq Safa stated that Israel’s deterrence has eroded due to governance crises and multiple threats, including internal Palestinian issues and external threats from Lebanon and the axis of resistance. Safa emphasized that there is no need for border demarcation as borders have been established since ancient times. He also clarified that his meeting with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun was for security coordination and not politically oriented. Safa reiterated Hezbollah’s policy of not shaking hands with Israeli or American officials.

 

september 29,2023

  1. Lebanon’s Christian Political Forces Reject Blame for Presidential Stalemate (Sharq Awsat). Lebanon’s main Christian political parties, including the Lebanese Forces and Lebanese Phalange, refuse to take responsibility for the ongoing presidential vacuum. The parties are pushing back against Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s claims that the deadlock is due to their lack of participation in dialogue. Berri has been criticized for not holding open election sessions and instead insisting on preconditions for dialogue. Members of these Christian parties argue that the focus should be on implementing the constitution and that international initiatives could facilitate the election process without replacing the internal Lebanese role.

 

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