A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 04-05/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 19th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 04-05/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 19th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
November 04-05/2019

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 04-05/2019

Aoun Meets Kubis: Anti-Corruption Measures Tops Next Govt. Tasks
Hariri, Bassil Hold First Meeting since PM Resignation
Sources: Government Formation Ensued from Hariri, Bassil Meeting
Lebanon’s Aoun: Dialogue with protesters crucial to solve issues at hand
Lebanon Bonds Extend Rally
Protesters block roads in Beirut, other parts of Lebanon
Schools shut for third week/Worst economic crisis since 1975-90 civil war
Mustaqbal Denies Being behind Some Road-Blocking Protests
Choucair Orders Sale of Recharge Cards according to Official Exchange Rate
Financial Prosecutor Sues CDR, Several Firms over Brissa Dam File
Lebanon’s Parliament Postpones Session to Elect Secretaries, Commissioners
Abdullah Urges Hariri to Form Govt. of People’s Aspirations
Protests Against Political Class Gain Momentum in Lebanon
Protesters close roads, paralyzing Lebanon as crisis worsens
Al-Akhbar Journalists Resign over Paper Policy on Lebanon Uprising

Aoun Meets Kubis: Anti-Corruption Measures Tops Next Govt. Tasks
Naharnet/November 04/2019
President Michel Aoun on Monday said in talks with U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis that the first task for the upcoming government is to put anti-corruption measures in practice. “One of the first tasks of the new government will be to follow up on anti-corruption and the investigation process, which will involve all officials in (state) departments at various levels,” he told Kubis. “Dialogue with demonstrators is necessary in order to reach an understanding on the issues at hand,” he added. Aoun and Kubis held their talks at Baabda Palace where discussions focused on the latest developments amid nationwide cross-sectarian rallies that gripped Lebanon since October 17. Demonstrators are demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.
The meeting comes days before a Security Council meeting to discuss the stages of implementing resolution 1701.

Hariri, Bassil Hold First Meeting since PM Resignation
Naharnet/November 04/2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Free Patriotic Movement chief and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil were on Monday holding their first meeting since the October 29 resignation of Hariri. According to MTV, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim played a mediation role to arrange the meeting.“The meeting between Hariri and Bassil cannot be described as positive or negative because it was shrouded by confidentiality,” MTV added. The TV network also described as “baseless and inaccurate” a media report published by the kataeb.org news website about the deliberations between Hariri and Bassil. The website had reported that a preliminary agreement has been reached between Hariri and Bassil on forming a 24-minister cabinet headed by Hariri and allotting the so-called sovereign portfolios to Bassil, Ali Hassan Khalil of the AMAL Movement and Wael Abu Faour of the Progressive Socialist Party. “Twenty ministers would be independent experts and two more sovereign portfolio ministers would be described as expert and independent but they would be associated with Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement,” the website added. “It has been agreed that the line-up would be accompanied by a policy statement promising major reform pledges in addition to a work plan whose implementation would involve the civil society, with the aim of calming street protests and sparing the ruling political class the bitter cup that it has been tasting since the revolution erupted on October 17,” kataeb.org said. Hariri is reportedly seeking a government that would exclude figures that “provoke” large segments of the public opinion, such as Bassil, caretaker Telecom Minister Mohammed Choucair and caretaker Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati.Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement, Hizbullah and their allies are meanwhile opposed to Hariri’s re-designation as premier should Bassil be excluded from the new cabinet’s line-up, according to some media reports.

Sources: Government Formation Ensued from Hariri, Bassil Meeting
Kataeb.org/November 04/2019
The new Cabinet will consist of 24 ministers to be headed by resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri whose objective aims at pacifying protesters’ fury, sources told Kataeb website. The initial agreement reached between Hariri and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil during a meeting held on Monday at the Center House indicate that Bassil, Ali Hassan Khalil and Wael Bou Faour will be assigned three of the sovereign ministries while 20 independent specialists will obtain the rest of the seats, provided that two of those will pertain to Hezbollah and the Future Movement. The new government will issue a ministerial statement presenting a list of reformative promises along with a work roadmap calling for the civil society to assist in its implementation.

Lebanon’s Aoun: Dialogue with protesters crucial to solve issues at hand
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Monday, 4 November 2019
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on Monday that there is a need for dialogue with demonstrators in order to come to an understanding on the issues at hand. On its official Twitter page, The Lebanese Presidency cited Aoun as saying to the UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon that one of the first tasks of the new government will be to follow up the anti-corruption, and carry out an investigation process that will include all officials in departments at different levels. Demonstrators continue to block roads across Lebanon, including in the capital Beirut, as anti-government protests enter their third week. Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that while some roads such as the Nahr al-Kalb highway had been reopened, others remain closed by protesters on Monday morning. A rally of support for President Aoun took place on Sunday, in a seeming counter-move against the nationwide protests, which have called for the resignation of the entire government. Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who is also leader of his political party the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and foreign minister, attended the rally and called on demonstrators to refrain from accusing everyone of corruption. Aoun previously gave a speech on Thursday calling for a new cabinet. Protesters seem to have largely ignored his calls as banks and schools were again closed on Monday.

Lebanon Bonds Extend Rally
Reuters/November 04/2019
Lebanon sovereign dollar-bonds rallied again on Monday following almost two weeks of hefty losses as the country was facing its biggest economic crisis in decades, though protests showed little sign of abating. The gains came across most of the curve with the 2021 bond enjoying the largest jump, adding 2.12 cents in the dollar to trade at 74.375 cents, Tradeweb data showed. However, this was still well below the near-90 cents in the dollar pre-protests. Many longer-dated issues added around 1.5 cents in the dollar on Monday. On Monday, protesters blocked roads in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon, pressing a wave of demonstrations against the ruling elite that have plunged the country into political turmoil at a time of acute economic crisis. The nationwide protests, which were ignited on Oct. 17 by a government proposal to tax WhatsApp calls, led Saad al-Hariri to resign as prime minister last week. Formal consultations over the formation of a new cabinet have yet to begin.

Protesters block roads in Beirut, other parts of Lebanon
Reuters/November 04/2019
Protesters blocked roads in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon on Monday, pressing a wave of demonstrations against the ruling elite that have plunged the country into political turmoil at a time of acute economic crisis.
The nationwide protests, which were ignited on Oct. 17 by a government proposal to tax WhatsApp calls, led Saad Al-Hariri to resign as prime minister last week. Formal consultations over the formation of a new cabinet have yet to begin.After Hariri quit, protests had ebbed, roadblocks were lifted and banks reopened for the first time in two weeks on Friday. But in the early hours of Monday, new roadblocks emerged on in Beirut and around the country, snarling major traffic arteries including the main seaside highway north and south of the capital. Schools called off plans to reopen and are now in their third week of closure. “The slogan is ‘this revolution doesn’t know sleep, form the government today’,” said Hashem Adnan, one of several dozen protesters blocking the Ring Bridge in Beirut, demanding a new cabinet independent of the political elite which protesters accuse of corruption and steering Lebanon into economic crisis. “People are continuing because you know you can’t trust this regime, any part of it,” he said.
In the northern city of Tripoli, demonstrator Rabih Al-Zein said protesters had escalated again because they do not trust the ruling elite to meet demands for a new administration that will act against corruption.We want technocrats (in  government) and we want judges to fight corruption, recover stolen money and hold the government accountable,” he said. Lebanon is grappling with the worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. With growth around zero percent, a slowdown in capital inflows has led to a scarcity of US dollars and pressure on the pegged Lebanese pound.
Lebanon is one of the world’s most heavily indebted states and is widely seen to be in need of urgent moves that would narrow the government’s gaping deficit and revive confidence. Though no formal capital controls were announced, customers encountered new restrictions on withdrawals of US dollars and transfers abroad when the banks opened on Friday. Protesters in the southern city of Sidon mobilized outside government-run agencies and commmercial banks on Monday, forcing them to close, a witness said. Hariri, who is aligned with Western and Gulf Arab states, continues in a caretaker capacity until the formation of a new government.The prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim under the Lebanese sectarian system of government and President Michel Aoun must designate the politicians with most support among MPs. Aoun, a Maronite Christian allied to the powerful, Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah, has yet to begin the formal consultations with MPs to designate the next prime minister. On Saturday, the presidency said he was working to resolve “complications” first and would start the consultations soon. Supporters of Aoun staged a big rally near the presidential palace on Sunday, followed by large anti-government protests in Beirut and other parts of the country later in the day.

Schools shut for third week/Worst economic crisis since 1975-90 civil war
Reuters/November 04/2019
Protesters blocked roads in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon on Monday, pressing a wave of demonstrations against the ruling elite that have plunged the country into political turmoil at a time of acute economic crisis.
The nationwide protests, which were ignited on Oct. 17 by a government proposal to tax WhatsApp calls, led Saad Al-Hariri to resign as prime minister last week. Formal consultations over the formation of a new cabinet have yet to begin.After Hariri quit, protests had ebbed, roadblocks were lifted and banks reopened for the first time in two weeks on Friday.

Mustaqbal Denies Being behind Some Road-Blocking Protests
Naharnet/November 04/2019
Al-Mustaqbal Movement on Monday denied allegations accusing it of orchestrating the road-blocking protests in some regions to press for the re-appointment of caretaker PM Saad Hariri as prime minister. “Some news websites and social media activists are holding al-Mustaqbal Movement responsible for the blocking of roads in several regions, attributing their allegations to an alleged order for the Movement’s supporters to take to the streets to take part in a tug of war over the parliamentary consultations and support the designation of PM Saad Hariri,” al-Mustaqbal said in a statement. It added: “Al-Mustaqbal Movement stresses that everything that is being published and circulated in this regard is coming from tools and writers who are seeking sedition and incitement and are annoyed by the sentiments of solidarity with PM Hariri.”“PM Hariri will not, under any circumstances, put himself in a position of racing for the premiership in media outlets, and he considers the premier designation process a constitutional issue subject to binding parliamentary consultations, not to the wishes of some of those who are seeking sectarian incitement on social networking websites,” Mustaqbal said.

Choucair Orders Sale of Recharge Cards according to Official Exchange Rate
Naharnet/November 04/2019
Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Mohammed Choucair on Monday ordered mobile network operators touch and Alfa to sell prepaid recharge cards according to the official dollar exchange rate set by the central bank, after dollar rationing in the country led to a hike in prices.
“After a series of meetings and contacts held by Minister Choucair with the various parties and officials concerned with the issue of recharge cards, it has been decided to deliver these cards to distributors in Lebanese lira and according to the official US dollar exchange rate set by Banque du Liban,” Choucair’s press office said in a statement. “Accordingly, Minister Choucair has asked the two mobile network firms and their distribution employees to sell these cards to citizens according to the set prices as of tomorrow, Tuesday, calling on the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the Consumer Protection Directorate to prosecute anyone who violates this decision,” the statement added. The statement also said that the minister has sought to find a solution that “does not contradict with the contracts signed with the two mobile network operators, which limit the jurisdiction of changing the prices of recharge cards to the government exclusively.”The statement also reminded citizens that they can continue to purchase recharge cards according to the official exchange rate through the 300 touch and Alfa centers spread across Lebanon, ATM machines and the Alfa and touch websites and mobile applications.

Financial Prosecutor Sues CDR, Several Firms over Brissa Dam File

Naharnet/November 04/2019
Financial Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim on Monday filed a lawsuit against the state-run Council for Development and Construction and several private companies on charges of wasting public funds in connection with the Brissa Dam project, the National News Agency said. LBCI television said several corruption-related files will be tackled after Monday’s move. The TV network said the files pertain to the telecom sector, illegal phone services, customs and cases related to the state’s finances. The development comes amid unprecedented, nationwide and cross-sectarian protests that have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.

Lebanon’s Parliament Postpones Session to Elect Secretaries, Commissioners
Naharnet/November 04/2019
The Parliament speakership announced on Monday the postponement of a legislative session set to elect two secretaries and three commissioners, the National News Agency reported.The session was scheduled to be held on the 5th of November. It was rescheduled for November 12.

Abdullah Urges Hariri to Form Govt. of People’s Aspirations

Naharnet/November 04/2019
MP Bilal Abdullah, of the Progressive Socialist Party parliamentary bloc, called upon caretaker PM Saad Hariri to form a government that meets the people’s aspirations and leave his rivals to bear the consequences should they fail to listen to the popular street demands. The MP said that political figures are exploiting their popular gatherings to impose conditions and enhance their power shares. “In the designation (of PM) and formation (of government), some (politicians) use the squares to impose conditions and enhance quotas, and also disregard the constitution and customs…we listen to the statements of ministers and deputies of a particular party talking about the diversity of their choices,” said Abdullah. The MP addressed Hariri and urged him to form a government that meets the conscience of the people, “Sheikh Saad, your street is closest to the pulse of the street, why don’t you form a government that meets the people’s conscience and let them (his rivals) bear the consequences alone,” he said. Since October 17, Lebanon has been gripped by unprecedented anti-government and anti-austerity protests for nearly two weeks. Last week, the Lebanese government led by Hariri resigned under pressure from the street. President Michel Aoun acknowledged Hariri’s resignation as prime minister but asked his government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.

Protests Against Political Class Gain Momentum in Lebanon
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 04/2019
Lebanese demonstrators blocked key roads around the country on Monday after a weekend of mass rallies confirmed that political promises had failed to extinguish the unprecedented protest movement. In a now almost daily game of cat-and-mouse with riot police, increasingly organised protesters erected temporary road blocks using dumpsters and parked vehicles. In the capital Beirut, they sat cross-legged on a key flyover and gathered near the Central Bank, which protesters blame for fuelling Lebanon’s economic crisis. Schools had been due to reopen on Monday after weeks of sporadic closures, but some remained shuttered as much of the country remained on partial lockdown for a third Monday. Unprecedented cross-sectarian demonstrations have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt. The nationwide street movement has brought down the government, in what is regarded as its first major win. Protesters have however vowed to keep up the street movement until all their demands are met, including the formation of a technocratic government. Yusef Fadel, a demonstrator, ruled out the possibility that the next government could also include party loyalists. “I reiterate, we are demanding a technocratic government and not a techno-partisan one,” said the 25-year-old who holds a masters degree in finance but remains unemployed.
“We need new blood.”
Lebanon’s president has said the country’s next cabinet should include ministers picked on skills, not political affiliation, seemingly endorsing protester demands. On Sunday, tens of thousands took to the streets, calling for an end to President Michel Aoun’s tenure, as well as the removal of a political system dominated by the same figures and families since the end of the civil war. The mobilisation followed a large rally organised by Aoun supporters in front of the presidential palace.

Protesters close roads, paralyzing Lebanon as crisis worsens
Associated Press/November 04/2019
On one of Beirut’s main avenues, protesters distributed leaflets apologizing for closing roads and saying that the “roads will remain closed until an independent government is formed.”
BEIRUT: Protesters have closed major roads in and elsewhere in Lebanon, paralyzing the country as the political crisis over the formation of a new government worsens. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned last Tuesday, meeting a key demand of the protesters that have been holding demonstration since Oct. 17 demanding an end to widespread corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has ruled the country for three decades. President Michel Aoun has not yet set a date for consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister.Many schools, universities and businesses were closed on Monday. Art of Change: Revolutionary street art loudening Lebanon’s voice .On one of Beirut’s main avenues, protesters distributed leaflets apologizing for closing roads and saying that the “roads will remain closed until an independent government is formed.”

Al-Akhbar Journalists Resign over Paper Policy on Lebanon Uprising

Naharnet/November 04/2019
Two Journalists in Hizbullah-led al-Akhbar newspaper submitted their resignation recently rejecting the paper’s position about the nationwide demonstrations that gripped Lebanon since October 17 demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.
Mohammed Zbeeb, editor in chief of al-Akhbar newspaper business page, wrote in a tweet on Monday: “I submitted my resignation from al-Akhbar last week to protest the administration’s attitude towards the Revolution.” The second journalist, Joy Slim, announced her resignation on Facebook last week because of her coverage of the Lebanese revolution. She wrote: “I submitted my resignation from al-Akhbar after working for five years and a half in the newspaper.”She added: “The past days were decisive for me, I was disappointed how the paper covered the uprising after working for months (and perhaps years) to provide evidence that it had to happen. As soon as it happened, the newspaper quickly joined the ranks of the counterrevolution, introducing inflammatory plots and rumors that fueled what happened today in the street and the attack of “citizens” (as al-Akhbar called them on facebook) on the protesters.”It is noteworthy that many articles written by the editor-in-chief of al-Akhbar newspaper, Ibrahim al-Amin, considered the October 17 uprising as “suspicious and funded by foreign embassies.”

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 04-05/2019
As Lebanon and Iraq Protests Flare, Iran Clings to Hard-Earned Sway/SourceAgence France Presse/November 04/2019
Lebanon Protests Rage on as Politicians Stall/Agence France Presse/November 04/2019
Sami Gemayel Lambastes Delay in Government Formation/Kataeb.org//November 04/2019
Lebanese Passport Ranked Among Worst in the World/CNN International/November 04/2019
By becoming an active part of Lebanon’s loathed political class, Hezbollah has faced the wrath of protestors too./Mohanad Hage Ali/Carnegie MEC/November 04/2019
Students protest against the university’s decision to resume classes/Sandra Abdelbaki/Associated PressN/ovember 04/2019
Beware of the Worried Arabs… Beware of the Worrying Arabs/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 04/2019

As Lebanon and Iraq Protests Flare, Iran Clings to Hard-Earned Sway
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/2019
Iran has worked to turn sweeping anti-government protests in Iraq from a threat to its hard-earned influence over its neighbor into an opportunity for political gains, analysts say. In Lebanon too, where similar rallies against corruption and government inefficiency have broken out, Iran’s main ally Hizbullah has managed to maintain its influence. “Very clearly, Iran in both Lebanon and Iraq wants to protect the system and not allow it to fall apart,” said Renad Mansour, researcher at London-based Chatham House. In both countries “it considers the demands of protesters potentially destabilizing,” he told AFP. In Iraq, many demonstrators calling for an overhaul to the political system over the past month have pointed at Tehran as its primary sponsor — a worrying accusation for Iranian officials. The leaders in Iran “are probably at peak influence and don’t want anything to change, because it’s exactly where they want to be,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. For decades, Iran has carefully crafted ties to a vast range of Iraq political and military actors, from Shiite opponents of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein to Kurdish factions in the north and even Sunni tribes in the west.
It therefore can play a crucial mediating role in Iraq’s political crises, and Qasem Soleimani, who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, often visits Baghdad during such times.Tehran also backs many of the factions in Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, which was formed in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group. And it sells crucial electricity and natural gas to supplement Iraq’s gutted power sector and is Baghdad’s second-biggest source of other imports, from fruit to carpets and cars.
‘Palm of Iran’s hand’ –
The political and economic sway is perhaps more valuable than ever amid Washington’s efforts to isolate and economically handicap Iran. The leaders in Tehran “have absolutely everything to lose and will do anything to defend it,” said Knights. “In the course of that, they are exposing their hand and their allies, and building even greater anger towards them.” Since protests erupted on October 1 in Iraq, many demonstrators have accused Iran of propping up the corrupt, inefficient system they want to overthrow. One in five Iraqis live below the poverty line and youth unemployment stands at 25 percent, despite the vast oil wealth of OPEC’s second-largest crude producer. “All our leaders are in the palm of Iran’s hand,” said Azhar, a 21-year-old protester in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. In unprecedented displays of anti-Iran sentiment, demonstrators chanted “Out, out, Iran! Baghdad will stay free!” Online footage showed Iraqis hitting pictures of Soleimani with their shoes, a severe insult in the region. The criticism caught Iran’s attention, and Soleimani has visited Iraq multiple times over the past five weeks to “advise” factions on how to respond, sources told AFP.”He’s running the show,” said a government official. “They agreed on a way to deal with protesters that allows the current political leadership to stay,” another source with knowledge of Soleimani’s visits said. One such meeting blocked a potential deal between paramilitary chief Hadi al-Ameri and populist cleric Moqtada Sadr to oust Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, sources said. But parties appear to have closed rank around the embattled premier again, maintaining the status quo. And amid the chaos of protests, several military commanders seen as close to the United States have been sidelined. “Iran has tightened its grip considerably and become much more bold,” said Knights.
Lebanon erupts
A week before the resumption of Iraq’s anti-government rallies on October 24, another Middle Eastern country erupted in anger at systemic corruption: Lebanon. Lebanon’s government is dominated by the allies of Shiite armed movement Hizbullah, through which Iran exerts significant influence.
“Hizbullah has never had it this good,” said Amal Saad, a Hizbullah expert and professor at the Lebanese University. But after rallies unexpectedly reached the party’s strongholds in Lebanon, “Hizbullah and Iran are in a precarious situation,” Saad told AFP. Criticism of the movement’s chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah even aired on the Hizbullah-run al-Manar TV, which was previously unimaginable for its propaganda arm. After initially backing the protests, Nasrallah said his party would not back the government’s resignation, which he said would lead to a dangerous political vacuum. Party loyalists have also launched counter-demonstrations, sparking scuffles with protesters and journalists. Despite the initial threat, said analyst Qassem Qassir, the party is as strong as ever. “It may have lost some morale or taken a hit in the media, but its strength remains,” Qassir told AFP.

Lebanon Protests Rage on as Politicians Stall
Agence France Presse/Monday, 4 November, 2019
Demonstrators in Lebanon blocked key roads and prevented some public institutions from opening Monday after mass rallies showed political promises had failed to extinguish the unprecedented protest movement. Nationwide cross-sectarian rallies have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt. The movement forced the government to resign last week and has spurred a raft of promises from political leaders, who have vowed to enact serious reforms to combat corruption. But on Monday demonstrators battled on, vowing to keep up their street movement until all their demands are met, including the formation of a technocratic government.”The people in power are not serious” about forming a new government, said Aadi, a 30-year-old demonstrator blocking a road that connects the capital to the southern city of Sidon. “They think we are playing here.”In Sidon, protesters gathered in front of public institutions and banks to prevent them from opening, an AFP reporter said. Another reporter saw similar scenes in the northern city of Tripoli. In a now almost daily game of cat-and-mouse with riot police, increasingly organized protesters erected temporary road blocks using dumpsters and parked vehicles. In the capital Beirut, they sat cross-legged on a key flyover and gathered near the Central Bank, which protesters blame for fueling Lebanon’s economic crisis. Schools had been due to reopen Monday after weeks of sporadic closures, but some remained shuttered as much of the country was on partial lockdown for a third Monday.
‘New blood’
Lebanon’s under-fire political class has repeatedly warned against the chaos a government resignation would cause, but they have yet to make progress on appointing a replacement. President Michel Aoun has asked the outgoing government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new one is formed, but Lebanon has entered a phase of acute political uncertainty, even by its own dysfunctional standards. With a power-sharing system organized along sectarian lines, the allocation of ministerial posts can typically take months, a delay demonstrators say the country can ill afford. “The people and the politicians are living on two different clouds,” said Steven, a 34-year-old from the Bekaa Valley who was blocking a key flyover in Beirut. “The president hasn’t even called on parliament to discuss the formation of a new government,” he added. “Nobody is listening to us.”
One week after the government’s resignation, there had still been no consultations between the president and parliamentary blocs.
These are to look into who would lead the next government, as well as the distribution of cabinet posts among established parties and independents.
Yusef Fadel, a demonstrator in central Beirut, ruled out the possibility that the next government would include members of established parties.
“I reiterate, we are demanding a technocratic government and not a techno-partisan one,” said the 25-year-old who holds a masters degree in finance but remains unemployed.
“We need new blood.”
On Monday, Aoun called for dialogue with “protesters to reach an understanding”, and said fighting corruption was a priority. “The investigation will include all officials, of all ranks, in all administrations,” he said on Twitter.
Cross-sectarian
Lebanon’s largely sectarian political parties have been flat-footed by the cross-communal nature of the demonstrations. Waving Lebanese national flags rather than the partisan colors normally paraded at demonstrations, protesters have been demanding the resignation of all of Lebanon’s political leaders.
Such was the scene on Sunday, when tens of thousands took to the streets across the country. “All of them means all of them,” they chanted, calling for political leaders from all sectarian stripes to step down. Draped in white sheets, three demonstrators staged a mock execution of the grievances that pushed them down into the street. Nooses around their limp necks, they bore signs referring to corruption, sectarianism, and the 1975-1990 civil war. Sunday’s mobilization followed a large rally organized by Aoun supporters in front of the presidential palace. Aoun’s supporters said they backed the overall demands of anti-graft protesters, but insisted the president was the only man able to bring about reforms.The president has said the members of the next government should be picked on merit, not political affiliation, seemingly endorsing protester demands for a technocratic government. On Sunday, he urged the Lebanese to rally behind a roadmap to tackle corruption, redress the economy, and put together a civil government. But he is also thought to be insisting on keeping his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who is Lebanon’s foreign minister and one of the most reviled figures among protesters, in government.

Sami Gemayel Lambastes Delay in Government Formation
Kataeb.org//November 04/2019
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Monday slammed the delay in the Cabinet formation noting that it exacerbates the crisis, deeming it shameful to count on people to break or on suppressing them. “We do not want a technopolitical government, or a political one, or any suggested biased form of a government,” Gemayel said during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Saifi. “We want an independent government that restores the international community’s trust, embarks on reforms and alleviates the monetary condition,” Gemayel stressed. “The people are calling for implementation of the Constitution, early Parliamentary elections and appointment of a new Prime Minister while you are procrastinating and asking them to form committees to negotiate with you,” he stressed. “The people are tired of closed doors, of political settlements and deals and are pleading for their demands to be respected,” he emphasized.
“How will the people trust you in resolving the country’s crisis while you are incapable of even forming a new government?”“Politicians should take a six-month break to review their steps before running for early elections,” he proposed.
“A neutral technocratic government and specialized ministries are needed in a transitional phase until early Parliamentary elections are set up which would generate people’s true representatives,” he stated. “The Parliament’s mandate can be shortened same as it was extended to allow people to express their opinion and we have submitted a law to the Parliament calling for that,” Gemayel explained that if approved, Parliament elections will be held in six months.
“Holding fast to your seats has destroyed the country” “Why are you afraid if you trust yourself?” “As an opposition force to the political settlement and the partitioning logic of detrimental implications, we urge all blocs and parties to acknowledge Lebanon’s need for a neutral competent government,” he indicated.
“The current mentality is destroying the country and egging on corruption which the citizens refused,” he lambasted. “Those protesting in the streets are not happy to be there; they are suffering and weary but this is their chance for a better life, better future for their children and better country” he declared.
“Today, we can see the Lebanese dreaming again and aspiring for an improved country,” he noted.

Lebanese Passport Ranked Among Worst in the World
CNN International/November 04/2019
It’s been a two-horse race this year to be named the world’s most powerful passport, with both top contenders in Asia.
Now, as we enter the final quarter of 2019, Japan and Singapore have held onto their position as the world’s most travel-friendly passports.
That’s the view of the Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the access each country’s travel document affords.
Singapore and Japan’s passports have topped the rankings thanks to both documents offering access to 190 countries each.
South Korea rubs shoulders with Finland and Germany in second place, with citizens of all three countries able to access 188 jurisdictions around the world without a prior visa.
Finland has benefited from recent changes to Pakistan’s formerly highly restrictive visa policy. Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Spain, Malta, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the United States or the UK.
The European countries of Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg hold third place in the index, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries, while France, Spain and Sweden are in the fourth slot, with a score of 186.
Five years ago, the United States and the UK topped the rankings in 2014 — but both countries have now slipped down to sixth place, the lowest position either has held since 2010.
While the Brexit process has yet to directly impact on the UK’s ranking, the Henley Passport Index press release observed in July, “with its exit from the EU now imminent, and coupled with ongoing confusion about the terms of its departure, the UK’s once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain.”
The United Arab Emirates continues its ascent up the rankings, up five places to rank 15th.
“It’s the strongest climber this quarter,” Lorraine Charles at Cambridge University’s Centre for Business Research says in the October release.
“While the UAE may not be able to compete with Saudi Arabia — the regional hegemon — in terms of military strength and economic power, the projection of its soft power is uncontested in the GCC.”
At the other end of the scale, Afghanistan is once again at the bottom of the rankings, with its citizens needing a prior visa for all but 25 destinations worldwide.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, says in the July release: “With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress.”
The best passports to hold in 2019 are:
1. Japan, Singapore (190 destinations)
2. Finland, Germany, South Korea (188)
3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (187)
4. France, Spain, Sweden (186)
5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal (185)
6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland (184)
7. Malta, Czech Republic (183)
8. New Zealand (182)
9. Australia, Lithuania, Slovakia (181)
10. Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia (180)
The worst passports to hold
Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries. These include:
100. Lebanon, North Korea (39 destinations)
101. Nepal (38)
102. Libya, Palestinian Territory, Sudan (37)
103. Yemen (33)
104. Somalia, Pakistan (31)
105. Syria (29)
106. Iraq (27)
107. Afghanistan (25)
Other indexes
Henley & Partner’s list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories — ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2019 index puts the UAE on top with a “visa-free score” of 177, followed by Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain with 170.

By becoming an active part of Lebanon’s loathed political class, Hezbollah has faced the wrath of protestors too.

Mohanad Hage Ali/Carnegie MEC/November 04/2019
As the uprising in Lebanon has continued against the political elite and its corruption and mismanagement of power, a surprising victim of the popular unrest has been Hezbollah. Protests have taken place in Shi‘a areas of Lebanon, despite efforts by the party’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, to undercut the demonstrations. This has only cast light on how the Hezbollah of today is not the same party that took on a central political role in Lebanon in 2005.
Hezbollah’s decision to enter the first Lebanese government after the Syrian withdrawal in 2005 transformed it into a full-fledged partner of the country’s failed political class. The image last week of Hezbollah-backed thugs and loyalists attacking peaceful protesters will long stain the party’s self-professed reputation as the protector of Lebanon against Israeli aggression and an “outsider” with regard to the political elite. Indeed, Hezbollah in the past two weeks has stood as a main defender of this elite, whose system protects the party, with Nasrallah repeatedly trying to demobilize the protest movement.
A historical look back at Hezbollah’s recent history helps to better understand why many in the Shi‘a community joined the protest movement, after a long record of disciplined involvement in Hezbollah’s political gatherings. How has the party reached this stage, after a period when “the resistance” was considered above the petty maneuvering of internal Lebanese politics?
The questions is more striking given that the party was never a full participant in the formative postwar period after 1990. That is when Lebanon’s current economic model was defined, empowering Lebanese warlords to extend their clientelistic networks and sectarian partisanship into government institutions.
During that period, the Syrian regime compartmentalized the roles of its clients and cronies in the country. Hezbollah was focused mainly on combating Israel’s occupation until 2000. Throughout those years the party’s participation in parliamentary and political life was relatively limited, in comparison to the Amal movement, which was the main representative of the Shi‘a in government. While Amal gained by rewarding its loyalists, its behavior was marred with accusations of corruption, undermining its popularity.
Back then, Hezbollah, as a resistance movement, accumulated military achievements and was perceived as having stayed clear of corrupt Lebanese politics. Within the Shi‘a community, the party was respected and was regarded as pious, while Amal appeared to embody greed and a lust for power.
Hezbollah’s standing in elections expanded as a consequence. For the critical mass of Lebanese Shi‘a, Hezbollah’s success in forcing an Israeli withdrawal in 2000 sanctified the organization as a liberator. The death of Hassan Nasrallah’s son while fighting against the Israelis in 1997, meant that he was viewed as being of a different cloth than most other Lebanese politicians. This helped Hezbollah to portray itself as the antithesis of Lebanese politics.
The party hesitated at first to enter Lebanese politics in 2005, when the Syrian army and security forces withdrew from Lebanon after the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri. The party defined its new government role as complementary to its resistance. Given the Syrian pullout, Hezbollah sought mainly to safeguard its weapons by bestowing legitimacy on its own resistance role by anchoring this in a new government. Hezbollah forged close ties with Amal, which remain in place to this day. The former enemies and competitors became the “Shi‘a duo,” inseparable in politics. The party also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) of Michel Aoun in 2006, paving the way for deeper ties with his political heir Gebran Bassil, who now heads the FPM and is a main target of the protesters.
Regional conflicts only intensified these alliances. The 2005–2015 decade was a highly volatile one for Hezbollah, as it faced many crises. This included the Syrian withdrawal and accusations that the party was involved in the Hariri assassination, a war with Israel in 2006, a short-lived domestic conflict in 2008, when Hezbollah and its Amal allies took over western Beirut, and the party’s entry into the war in Syria in 2013.
Hezbollah survived all these events with little discernible impact on its Shi‘a base of support. Sectarian polarization allowed the party to keep its constituency mobilized. By overstating alleged internal and external threats to the party and to Lebanon’s Shi‘a, Hezbollah enjoyed a wide margin of maneuver.
All this changed in 2016. A year after Russia’s intervention in Syria, the Assad regime was gaining ground and Hezbollah found itself on the winning side there. This is when the party decided to translate such gains inside Lebanon. Hezbollah played an integral role in sustaining a vacuum in the presidency as a means of putting pressure to pave the way for Michel Aoun’s election as president. In return, Aoun and the FPM helped Hezbollah secure the passing of a favorable electoral law that allowed the party and its allies, including the FPM, to win a majority in the 2018 elections. To secure a large turnout in the Biq‘a and South Lebanon, Nasrallah pledged to personally oversee the party’s efforts to fight corruption. At the time the Lebanese Shi‘a shared the nationwide fatigue with the slowing economy, rising inequality, the youth bulge, and unemployment.
Nasrallah’s anticorruption promise did not materialize, and given the United States’ rising pressure against Iran and Hezbollah, the party prioritized its external conflicts yet again. However, the mandate the party had gotten from Lebanon’s Shi‘a in 2005 is today overstretched. The idea of external conspiracies, existential in nature and seemingly never ending, is increasingly less believable. If the ruling elite fails again, the economic crisis will drive people into the streets with even more force than what we’ve seen until now.
Nasrallah and his patron, the Iranian supreme leader ‘Ali Khamenei, have already attempted to demonize the demonstrators, a tactic that was used to justify some of the violence used against protestors. Yet this triggered criticism from within pro-Hezbollah institutions. Journalists at the Al-Akhbar newspaper, for example, have resigned in protest against the publication’s efforts to tarnish the protestors.
That explains why Nasrallah’s most recent speech was more about damage control. Hezbollah’s secretary general was conciliatory toward the protestors, praising them and their role, while explaining how his previous remarks on how the protests hid external conspiracies were taken out of context. Even if the party tries to pose as a reformer, little might stop the snowballing perception that Hezbollah is now a pillar of the failing and resented ruling class.

Students protest against the university’s decision to resume classes
Sandra Abdelbaki/Associated Press/November 04/2019
After the rush of demonstrations on Sunday night, many roads were blocked and students coming from outside Beirut weren’t able to attend their classes.
BEIRUT: As many universities have decided to open their doors on the 19th day of Lebanon’s revolution, many students have called for protests against this decision.
Since the wave of protests were quite calm after the government’s resignation, many universities such as the Lebanese American University, the American University of Beirut, the American University of Sciences and Technology, Saint Joseph University and the Lebanese University issued a decision to resume classes on Monday November 4. And with this decision came the opposition of students.
Many students from LAU and AUB gathered at the universities’ main gates and had a peaceful sit-in this Monday morning as an objection to the resumption of classes. AUB students blocked Bliss street with garbage cans on Sunday night. The protests’ aim is to send a message that the revolution needs to proceed with the students because they represent a big number of the protesters. The students, however, decided not to do it on the pavement but on the street itself because the pavement is public property.
“I didn’t attend my classes today because this is a historical moment in our country, it’s a moment of national unity,” said Antonio Chdid, a mechanical engineering student at AUB. “It’s the job of students to be part of this revolution because we are the educated youth in this country and we have the energy and spirit to enact real change. Our place isn’t in the classes right now. We should be on the streets.”
“We, as students, have the right to protest and it is not feasible with the university’s pressure and deadlines,” said Lea Fakih, one of the students at LAU. “It is like we have to choose between our country and our education, and it’s as if we are studying for a future that does not exist in case the revolution failed.”
After the rush of demonstrations on Sunday night, many roads were blocked and students coming from outside Beirut weren’t able to attend their classes. Consequently, universities such as AUB and LAU were cooperative and supportive of the students.
“We believe that students have the right to express themselves on campus or off campus,” Raed Mohsen, Dean of Students at LAU, told Annahar. “The university decided to resume its classes but the professors have instructions not to count the students who have not attended as absent.”
According to Mohsen, almost 40% of the students attended LAU today. Others were protesting or couldn’t attend due to the sudden roadblocks.
Talal Nizameddine, Dean of Student Affairs at AUB, believes that no matter how great a cause is, students shouldn’t lose themselves in it.
“We are very proud of our community and our students, and we have to make sure we do the right thing in the right way. People have to get their right, and they have to work for that while studying,” Nizameddine said. “We decided to open our classes since last Thursday because we have a lot of requirements to meet and we barely have one month of this semester left.”
Many students are still willing to continue with the protests and take part in Lebanon’s revolution considering that their future is at stake in this country.
“We’re not going to stop protesting and standing for what we believe in because no one else is going to do it for us,” Fakih told Annahar.