A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 18-19/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 33th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 18-19/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 33th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
November 18-19/2019

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 18-18/2019
Lebanon Uprising Enters Day 33
Lebanon’s Army Chief Defends Protester Arrests
Lebanon is a sinking ship, parliament speaker warns
Jumblat Says High Officials ‘Schizophrenic’
Al-Hassan Discusses Legislative Session Security Measures with ISF, Army Chiefs
Geagea chairs ‘Strong Lebanon’ bloc meeting/ LF 15 MP’s will boycott the parliamentary session of tomorrow
Hariri chairs Future bureaus meeting
‘Democratic Gathering’ bloc convenes to discuss political situation/Will boycott the parliamentary session of tomorrow
Lebanese banks to reopen as withdrawal limits made official/The country’s parliament speaker called it a ‘sinking ship’
Banks to Reopen Tuesday after Employees End Strike
U.S. Slams ‘Russian Attempts’ to Miscast Lebanon Protests as ‘U.S. Plot’
Army Chief Vows to Protect Protesters
Hariri Still Insisting on Technocrat Govt., Report Says
LF, PSP, Kataeb, Independents to Boycott Tuesday’s Legislative Session
Hariri Congratulates Khalaf on Being Elected Head of Bar Association
Independent Lawyer Defeats Ruling Class in Beirut Bar Elections
Lebanon Protests Test Hezbollah’s Role as Shi’ites’ Champion
Lebanese Held by Israel after Jumping Fence Handed to Army
Lebanese Protests Test Hizbullah’s Role as ‘Shiites’ Champion’
Lebanon’s Kataeb Party to boycott parliament session

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 18-19/2019
Lebanon Uprising Enters Day 33
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/2019
Protests continue in Lebanon Monday as an unprecedented protest movement against the ruling elite entered day 33 with the country in the grip of political and economic turmoil. In north Lebanon, and other areas students led the protests as they skipped classes with some blocking the entrance to the Beirut Arab University branch in al-Dibbiyeh. Others at the Lebanese University refused to attend classes. Protesters blocked the school entrance of Bakhoun in Miniyeh. Students held a sit-in in front of the offices of the Finance Ministry in Tripoli preventing access for employees. They also blocked several state institutions. In Beirut they rallied in front of the Education Ministry. Demonstrators are demanding a complete overhaul of the political class and for a new government of technocrats not affiliated with traditional parties. Protests have somewhat calmed down in Beirut, but are all prepared to ban the parliament from convening on Tuesday. They have called for the formation of a human chain around the parliament premises in Beirut’s Nejmeh Square. Speaker Nabih Berri had several times postponed a legislative session to elect the secretariat and committee members. Last week he rescheduled it to November 18. The leaderless pan-sectarian movement has swept the Mediterranean country since October 17, prompting the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government. Protesters have decried everything from unemployment to chronic power cuts and say they are fed up with the same families dominating government institutions since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. No date has been set for parliamentary consultations required to pave the way for a new cabinet line-up and the country has been paralyzed by school and bank closures.

Lebanon’s Army Chief Defends Protester Arrests
Beirut – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 18 November, 2019
Lebanon’s army chief, General Joseph Aoun, said Sunday that recent arrests against protesters targeted individuals who had sought to incite riots and violence and who had prevented the military from carrying out its duties. He also stressed that the closure of roads by protesters was unacceptable. He called for steering clear from rumors that only serve to drive a wedge between the people and military. “History will show that the Lebanese army saved Lebanon,” he underlined during an inspection of troops deployed in Beirut and the Mount Lebanon region. Since October 17, Lebanon has been plunged in massive anti-government protests that are demanding the ouster of the current political class, whom demonstrators blame for rampant corruption and the country’s worst economic crisis since the civil war. Protesters have sought to block roads in a bid to make their voices heard. The military recently arrested several demonstrators. Aoun stressed that the army is “responsible for the security of demonstrators and other citizens,” praising their “high level of awareness” in preventing the rallies from spiraling into violence. He revealed that the arrests included non-Lebanese people and others found to be in possession of drugs. “The army is working and acting in the manner it deems fit,” he stressed. Aoun commended the “level of professionalism, discipline, high morality and courage demonstrated by the army in carrying out all the tasks entrusted to it with honor, sacrifice and loyalty.”Addressing the troops, he hailed their devotion and dedication to their oath in serving the country and in proving that the military protects all citizens, regardless of their affiliations or views.

Lebanon is a sinking ship, parliament speaker warns
Reuters, Beirut/Monday, 18 November 2019
Lebanon is like a sinking ship that will go under unless action is taken, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted as saying on Monday, referring to the country’s deep economic and political crisis. Berri, an ally of Lebanese Hezbollah, told visitors that efforts to form a new government were “completely frozen” and awaiting developments at any moment, the newspaper al-Joumhuria reported. Struggling with a massive public debt and economic stagnation, Lebanon has sunk into major political trouble since protests erupted against its ruling elite a month ago, leading Prime Minister Saad Hariri to quit on Oct. 29.
On Sunday, banks, which have mostly been closed since the protests began, announced temporary measures including a weekly cap of $1,000 on cash withdrawals and restricting transfers abroad to cover urgent personal spending only. A bank staff union will decide later on Monday whether to lift a strike that has kept the banks shut for the past week. Efforts to form a new government, needed to enact urgent reforms, hit a setback at the weekend when former finance minister Mohammad Safadi withdrew his candidacy for the post of prime minister, sparking bitter recriminations. Hezbollah said “political understandings” would take place between “the parties and even with leaders of the protest movement” to form a new government, without giving further details. Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem, in an interview with Iranian media broadcast by the group’s television station al-Manar, said the new government’s agenda would help to calm down the streets. Both Hezbollah and Berri want Hariri to be prime minister again. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group by the US. Berri said he still hoped Hariri would agree to form the new cabinet, al-Joumhuria reported. “The country is like a ship that is sinking little by little,” the paper quoted him as saying. “If we don’t take the necessary steps, it will sink entirely.”An-Nahar newspaper quoted Berri as likening the situation of the Lebanese people to that of passengers on the Titanic, the passenger liner that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Some protesters had rejected the potential nomination of Safadi, a prominent businessman and former lawmaker from the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli, saying he is part of a political elite they want ousted. Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system.

Jumblat Says High Officials ‘Schizophrenic’
Naharnet/November 18/2019
Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat on Monday slammed the country’s top decision-making authority whom he said was “schizophrenic,” as the country enters day 33 of nationwide protests demanding an overhaul of the political class. “Schizophrenia prevails in the higher decision-making circles, which cannot cede power in exchange for a modern transitional alternative to the Third Republic, now that the Second Republic has died,” said Jumblat in a tweet, referring to the term of President Michel Aoun. “More importantly, the PSP believes that modernization and change are important in order to meet the challenges. To be or not to be…” he added. Nationwide protests erupted in Lebanon on Oct 17 demanding an overhaul of the entire political class. Hariri resigned on Oct. 29 “in response to protesters’ demands.” Since his resignation, parties have not been able to form a new government due to political conflicts. On Sunday, the political crisis worsened when the outgoing prime minister (Hariri) harshly criticized the Free Patriotic Movement –the party of the country’s president– blaming it for weeks of delay in forming a new Cabinet amid ongoing anti-government protests. Aoun has yet to call for consultations with parliamentary blocs’ leaders to name a new premier, nearly three weeks after Hariri resigned. Some major factions in Lebanon’s sectarian political system want to keep Hariri in the new government. But they want him to form a cabinet of politicians and technocrats. He’s insisting on only technocrats. Aoun’s party on Sunday responded that Hariri’s stance intends to dominate the new Cabinet by insisting “it’s either me or no one else in the government.”The exchange of blame and criticism between Hariri’s office and Aoun’s party come as Lebanon is passing through its worst economic and financial crisis in decades. Lebanon is one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world and was already dealing with a severe fiscal crisis before the protests began, one rooted in years of heavy borrowing and expensive patronage networks run by entrenched political parties.

Al-Hassan Discusses Legislative Session Security Measures with ISF, Army Chiefs
Naharnet/November 18/2019
Caretaker Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan on Monday met with Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman to discuss the security measures that will be taken by the ISF during Tuesday’s parliamentary session.
Al-Hassan also held phone talks with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun during the meeting to “coordinate the security steps that will be taken,” the National News Agency said. MTV meanwhile reported that protesters have called for gathering Tuesday at 7:00 am at Beirut’s Martyrs Square to block roads and prevent the controversial legislative session from taking place.
“Protesters have held Speaker Nabih Berri responsible for any bloodshed tomorrow should he insist on holding the legislative session,” MTV added.
A controversial general amnesty law is on the agenda of the legislative session.
Speaker Nabih Berri had postponed the session last Tuesday over “security concerns.”Protesters have vowed to prevent the session from being held through blocking all entrances leading to parliament.

Sami Gemayel says will boycott Parliament session tomorrow
NNA//November 16/2019
Kataeb Party leader, MP Sami Gemayel, on Monday announced that he would be boycotting the House of Parliament’s session tomorrow.
“We have been informed that it will be a secret session void of the laws that are being demanded by the people,” Gemayel said. He also pointed out that the law to abolish the pensions of former deputies, electronic voting, and reform laws were not on the agenda as well. He finally highlighted the importance of giving utmost priority for designation, deeming it the responsibility of the President of the Republic.

Geagea chairs ‘Strong Lebanon’ bloc meeting/ LF 15 MP’s will boycott the parliamentary session of tomorrow
LCCC/NNA/November 16/2019
The “Strong Republic” bloc on Monday held its regular meeting in Maarab under the chairmanship of Lebanese Forces Party leader Samir Geagea. After the meeting Geagea declared in a press conference that the LF 15 MP’s will boycott the parliamentary session of tomorrow and called on president Aoun to start the mendatory consultations in a bid to assign a PM to form a new government

Hariri chairs Future bureaus meeting
NNA/November 16/2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired this afternoon at the Center House a meeting of the political and executive bureaus of the Future movement..Discussions reportedly focused on the political situation, particularly the circumstances related to government formation process.

‘Democratic Gathering’ bloc convenes to discuss political situation/Will boycott
the parliamentary session of tomorrow
NNA//November 16/2019
The “Democratic Gathering” bloc convened this evening in Clemenceau under the chairmanship of MP Teymour Jumblatt. As per a statement by the bloc, the meeting discussed “the agenda of the Parliamentary session and the current political situation.”

Lebanese banks to reopen as withdrawal limits made official/The country’s parliament speaker called it a ‘sinking ship’
The National/November 18/2019
Lebanon’s bank staff union announced on Monday that it is ending a week-long strike after increased security and new regulations that make limits on withdrawal and dollar transfers official.
The union said Monday banks will reopen the following day. Banks have been at the centre of anti-government protests, as demonstrators accused them of corruption and mismanagement. They had closed with the eruption of protests on October 17, opening only for a week. Depositers then rushed in to withdraw money, but banks had begun imposing informal capital controls that angered many clients and added to the turmoil, prompting the employees’ strike. The banks had been closed since November 12 because of a strike that the bank employees’ federation said was over security concerns by staff facing intimidation from clients demanding their money.
On Saturday, security forces said they will boost security around banks. A day later, the Banks Association declared formal controls, limiting withdrawals to $1,000 per week, and transfers abroad to “urgent matters.” On Monday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted as saying that Lebanon is like a sinking ship that will go under unless action is taken, referring to the country’s deep economic and political crisis. Mr Berri, an ally of the powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah, told visitors that efforts to form a new government were “completely frozen” and awaiting developments at any moment, the newspaper Al Joumhuria reported. Struggling with a massive public debt and economic stagnation, Lebanon has sunk into major political trouble since protests erupted against its ruling elite a month ago, leading Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri to quit on October 29.
On Sunday, banks, which have mostly been closed since the protests began, announced temporary measures including a weekly cap of $1,000 on cash withdrawals and restricting transfers abroad to cover urgent personal spending only. A bank staff union will decide later on Monday whether to lift a strike that has kept the banks shut for the past week.
Efforts to form a new government, needed to enact urgent reforms, hit a setback at the weekend when former finance minister Mohammad Safadi withdrew his candidacy for the post of prime minister, sparking bitter recriminations. Hezbollah, a heavily armed group backed by Iran, said “political understandings” would take place between “the parties and even with leaders of the protest movement” to form a new government, without giving further details.Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem, in an interview with Iranian media broadcast by the group’s television station Al Manar, said the new government’s agenda would help to calm down the streets. Both Hezbollah and Mr Berri want Mr Hariri, who is aligned with Gulf Arab and Western states, to be prime minister again. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group by the United States. Mr Berri said he still hoped Mr Hariri would agree to form the new cabinet, Al Joumhuria reported. “The country is like a ship that is sinking little by little,” the paper quoted him as saying. “If we don’t take the necessary steps, it will sink entirely.” An-Nahar newspaper quoted Mr Berri as likening the situation of the Lebanese people to that of passengers on the Titanic, the passenger liner that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Some protesters had rejected the potential nomination of Mr Safadi, a prominent businessman and former lawmaker from the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli, saying he is part of a political elite they want ousted.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system.

Banks to Reopen Tuesday after Employees End Strike
Naharnet/November 18/2019
Lebanon’s banks will reopen Tuesday after around a one-week strike by their employees, the employees’ union said. In a statement, the executive council of the Federation of Syndicates of Banks Employees in Lebanon announced the end of the strike and said employees will resume their work on Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference later in the day, a Federation spokesman said “it is unacceptable to say that the Federation had conspired with the Association of Banks against the Lebanese.” “The security plan presented by the Interior Ministry is sufficient to create the appropriate climate,” he added. LBCI television had reported that the re-opening decision was taken after the Association of Banks put the Federation in the picture of the Interior Ministry’s security plan that is aimed at ensuring the safety of bank employees amid the turbulent situations in the country. The Association also agreed with the Union on a host of new and “unified” banking measures aimed at preserving financial stability. Employees had cited security concerns upon declaring their strike. Banks have been at the center of anti-government protests, as demonstrators accused them of corruption and mismanagement. They had closed with the eruption of protests on Oct. 17, opening only for a week. Depositors then rushed in to withdraw money, but banks had begun imposing informal capital controls that angered many clients and added to the turmoil, prompting the employees’ strike. On Saturday, security forces said they will boost security around banks. A day later, the Banks Association declared formal controls, limiting withdrawals to $1,000 per week, and transfers abroad to “urgent matters.”

U.S. Slams ‘Russian Attempts’ to Miscast Lebanon Protests as ‘U.S. Plot’
Naharnet/November 18/2019
The U.S. State Department on Monday accused the Russian government of seeking to “cast doubt on the authenticity of the Lebanese people’s demand to end endemic corruption.”“Russian attempts to miscast the Lebanese people’s resolve as a U.S. plot follow a well-worn playbook,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said. “We proudly stand with the Lebanese people,” she added.

Army Chief Vows to Protect Protesters
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 18/2019
Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun toured several areas around the country, visiting troops and vowing to protect the protesters. Aoun said Sunday that protests in Lebanon have witnessed less violence than other places including Iraq, Iran, Hong Kong, Bolivia and Paris. “We did not stop anyone who is protesting in squares, but when they want to close roads and harass people we will intervene,” the general said, referring to some activists who closed roads around the country before the army opened them by force.
“How many people are dying in Iraq every day?” the commander said. More than 320 Iraqi protesters have been killed by security forces in Iraq since the beginning of October. He said an investigation is underway in the case of a protester (Alaa Abu Fakhr) killed by a soldier last week in southern Beirut.
Nationwide demonstrations began on Oct. 17 against new taxes on WhatsApp calls amid a plunging economy. The protesters now are calling for the downfall of the political elite who have run the country since the 1975-90 civil war.

Hariri Still Insisting on Technocrat Govt., Report Says 
Naharnet/November 18/2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday reportedly announced that he is still insisting on forming a technocrat government. “Let them go to binding parliamentary consultations and I’m still committed to forming a government of experts,” Hariri told al-Mustaqbal Movement’s political bureau according to LBCI television. An official statement issued by Hariri’s office said the caretaker PM presided over a politburo meeting and that discussions “tackled the general political situations, especially the circumstances related to the government formation process.”

LF, PSP, Kataeb, Independents to Boycott Tuesday’s Legislative Session
Naharnet/November 18/2019
The MPs of the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Kataeb Party and the parliament’s independent MPs will not take part in Tuesday’s controversial legislative session, TV networks said. Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel announced the boycott of the session in a live video on his Facebook page, noting that the session “will not be public” and “reporters will not be able to attend it.” “We have been informed that the session’s agenda does not include any law demanded by the Lebanese, such as the law on the judiciary’s independence, the law on recovering stolen funds and the law on lifting bank secrecy,” Gemayel added. “The priority today is for designating a new premier,” Gemayel stressed, calling on President Michel Aoun to “stop the delay in calling for (binding parliamentary) consultations.” “In response to the demands of the youths present on the ground, we declare our boycott of tomorrow’s parliamentary session,” he said. MP Osama Saad, whose supporters are actively taking part in the protest movement that has been sweeping Lebanon since October 17, also announced his boycott of the session. “Neither the uprising’s demands nor people’s priorities are on the agenda and there will be no discussions on the means to overcome the dangerous, fateful crisis that the country is going through,” Saad said. MP Hadi Abu al-Hosn of the Progressive Socialist Party meanwhile confirmed that the MPs of the Democratic Gathering will not attend the session, saying “the priority remains for the parliamentary consultations” to name a new premier. “The first step towards reform should be the adoption of a law on the judiciary’s independence,” he said. A controversial general amnesty law is on the agenda of the legislative session. Speaker Nabih Berri had postponed the session last Tuesday over “security concerns.”
Protesters have vowed to prevent the session from being held through blocking all entrances leading to parliament.

Hariri Congratulates Khalaf on Being Elected Head of Bar Association
Naharnet/November 18/2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday called the new president of the Beirut Bar Association Melhem Khalaf, congratulating him on his election and “wishing him success in his mission,” Hariri’s office said. Civil society activist Khalaf, who was backed by the protest movement that has been sweeping the country since October 17, scored a precious win for the nascent movement over the country’s established political parties. Speaking after he was declared the winner, Khalaf saluted “the enthusiasts of democracy,” hoping democracy will renew all institutions.

Independent Lawyer Defeats Ruling Class in Beirut Bar Elections
Beirut – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 18 November, 2019
Independent lawyers in Lebanon achieved an exceptional victory in Sunday’s elections for the Beirut Bar Association after Melhem Khalaf defeated a candidate supported by the country’s political parties.
Khalaf won with 2,341 votes against Nader Gaspard. Immediately after announcing the results, aired live on local television, lawyers gathering at the Justice Palace in Beirut chanted: “Revolution, revolution,” reminiscent of anti-government protesters who have gathered in public squares across Lebanon since Oct. 17. Lawyers then recited together the national anthem. “We hope that the joyful scene we have witnessed today would extend to the whole country for the establishment of democracy and the renewal of the spirit of institutions, which should protect the citizens,” Khalaf said. He stressed that the Bar Association would protect “public freedoms and human rights.”Commenting on Khalaf’s election, former Minister Boutros Harb said that the result of the Association’s election was the biggest blow to the ruling authority since the eruption of protests “because it proved that the overwhelming majority of our people reject the rule of mafias.”“It’s the first democratic victory among many more victories to come,” he remarked. The head of the Kataeb Party, MP Sami Gemayel, stressed that the lawyers said their word. “The train of change is on the right track. The journey, which began from the Bar Association today in the face of partisanship, will not stop. Congratulations to our colleague Melhem Khalaf. We hope our homeland will be restored,” Gemayel said. MP Shamil Roukoz, President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law who recently announced his withdrawal from the ruling ‘Strong Lebanon’ parliamentary bloc, congratulated the new head of the Beirut Bar Association on his election. “We hope that the Association would at this stage play a role to defend rights and achieve justice,” he said, calling on “everyone to review the results, draw lessons, and adhere to (Lebanon’s) principles, instead of betting on interest-based alliances.”

Lebanon Protests Test Hezbollah’s Role as Shi’ites’ Champion
The Associated Press/November 18/2019
Though they agree with Hezbollah’s ‘resistance’ against Israel, demonstrators blast the group’s silence on corruption and poverty
Young men chanting the “people want to bring down the regime” gathered outside the office of Lebanese legislator Mohammed Raad, the powerful head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. One shirtless man grabbed a metal rod and swung it at the sign bearing Raad’s name, knocking it out of place as others cheered. It was a rare scene in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold. The protests engulfing Lebanon have united many across sectarian lines and shattered taboos, with some taking aim at leaders from their own sects, illustrating a new, unfamiliar challenge posed to the militant group. Iranian-backed Hezbollah built a reputation among supporters as a champion of the poor and a defender of Lebanon against Israel’s much more powerful military. It and its Shi’ite ally, the Amal party, have enjoyed overwhelming backing among the Shi’ite community since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, making them a political powerhouse that, along with allies, has dominated recent governments. But now many protesters group Hezbollah into the ruling class they are revolting against, blaming it for wrecking the economy with years of corruption and mismanagement. Protesters want that entire political elite out. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and Amal’s chief, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, have not been spared. “All of them means all of them, and Nasrallah is one of them,” protesters have chanted at some Beirut rallies. The demonstrations that erupted October 17 spread throughout the country, including predominantly Shi’ite areas in the south and the eastern Bekaa Valley. “The heavy participation of the Shi’ites … posed a main challenge: that there’s a large number from the sect that doesn’t accept the current situation,” said Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. “That’s why there was a swift and decisive decision to nip this in the bud.”

Lebanese Held by Israel after Jumping Fence Handed to Army

Naharnet/November 18/2019
The Lebanese army received on Monday from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) a Lebanese citizen who was arrested by Israeli military after crossing the northern border of the occupied territories of Palestine from Lebanon. Investigations were opened into the incident under the supervision of related authority. On Saturday, the state-run National News Agency said Jaafar Mohammed Moustafa jumped over the border fence into Israel after shooting two people on the Lebanese side of the frontier. The Israeli military said it arrested the man and that he was held for questioning. Israel has been on high alert since August, when its aircraft struck targets in Syria and Lebanon linked to Iran and its regional proxy, Hizbullah. In September, brief cross-border fighting erupted after Hizbullah fired a barrage of missiles in response to Israeli airstrikes.

Lebanese Protests Test Hizbullah’s Role as ‘Shiites’ Champion’
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 18/2019
Lebanon’s protests have shown unusual, overt anger at the country’s powerhouse, Hizbullah. The Shiite group has long enjoyed a reputation among its supporters as a champion of the poor and defender of the country against Israel. That’s helped it dominate Lebanon’s political scene.
But now protesters want that entire political elite out — including Hizbullah — and even some among its Shiite supporters are angry over economic woes. Hizbullah and its ally, the Amal party, have enjoyed overwhelming backing among the Shiite community since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, making them a political powerhouse that has dominated recent governments. But now many protesters group Hizbullah into the ruling class that they are revolting against and blame for wrecking the economy with years of corruption and mismanagement.

Lebanon’s Kataeb Party to boycott parliament session
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Monday, 18 November 2019
Lebanon’s Kataeb Party said it will boycott a legislative session scheduled for Tuesday to vote on measures related to corruption, a general amnesty, and pensions. Almost three weeks after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned amid massive anti-government protests, President Michel Aoun has yet to call for consultations with parliamentary bloc leaders to name a new premier. The party’s leader and member of parliament Sami Gemayel has voiced criticism of the ruling class amid the unprecedented protests that are engulfing Lebanon since October 17. Local media reported that many officials too have criticized the holding of the legislative session on Tuesday as being unconstitutional as well as failing to respond to the demands of protesters. As per the Constitution, lawmakers must discuss and endorse the state budget for the upcoming year during Tuesday’s legislative session before passing any new measures or draft laws.

Titles For The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 18-19/2019
Hezbollah is certainly the Islamic Republic of Iran’s most successful export./Maya Carlin/Jerusalem Post/November 18/2019
AMCD Applauds Secretary Pompeo for Supporting Civil Unrest in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon -Need to Appoint Special Task Force/EINPresswire.com/November 18, 2019
Intelligence Leaks Reveal How Iran Gained Influence over Iraq/Asharq Al-AwsatNovember 18/2019
Lebanese Eurobonds, inevitable default or trade of a lifetime/Dan Azzi/Annahar/November 18/2019
Matbakh El Balad: The initiative that feeds 1000 Lebanese protesters a day/Maysaa Ajjan/Annahar/November 18/2019
The Ravages of Inequality/The Lebanese are united in revolt, but their political system is not made to calm their rage./Lydia Assouad/Carnegie MEC/November 18/2019

The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 18-19/2019
Hezbollah is certainly the Islamic Republic of Iran’s most successful export.
ميا كارلن/جيرازلم بوست: حزب الله بالتأكيد هو أهم صادرات إيران الناجحة
Maya Carlin/Jerusalem Post/November 18/2019
Could uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, coupled with US sanctions, permanently impair Iran’s influence in the region?
In the past few weeks, frustrated and fed-up demonstrators have taken to the streets of Lebanon and Iraq to voice grievances against their governments. The perception of Iranian infiltration and influence certainly continues to impact this political shake-up in both regions.
These protests have toppled two governments in just three days. Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister, announced his resignation last week. Iraq’s President Barham Salih stated that Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had also agreed to resign from office once a successor is decided upon.
In both Iraq and Lebanon, political factions are divided by religions and sects. These government systems are designed to limit sectarian conflicts by ensuring a sharing of power to different communities. However, in both regions, prominent Shia parties are conjoined with Iran. Since protesters are demanding an end to their government’s power-sharing system, Tehran is in trouble.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced via Twitter on Thursday that, “The people [protesters] have justifiable demands, but they should know their demands can only be fulfilled within the legal structure and framework of their country. When the legal structure is disrupted in a country, no action can be carried out.”This statement, riddled with irony, completely discounts the revolution which birthed the government Khamenei currently leads. The ayatollah also verified how deeply entrenched Hezbollah has become in Lebanon’s political makeup.
Hezbollah is certainly the Islamic Republic of Iran’s most successful export. For over two decades, Tehran has played the role of puppet-master in Beirut, attempting to counter the influence of its enemies: the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah’s critical influence in the region was demonstrated during the 2006 war with Israel and with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intervention in the Syrian conflict.
Although Hezbollah’s military wing was rightfully designated as a terrorist organization in April by US President Donald Trump, the organization’s military and political wings work in tandem to export the regime’s disturbing agenda. In 2017, the US State Department identified more than 250 operatives and 150 companies with Hezbollah ties. Last year, the details of Project Cassandra exposed the sophistication and breadth of Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise.
Since Tehran heavily invests in Hezbollah’s role globally, these protests do not bode well for the regime. Iranian leadership clearly grasps the magnitude of these demonstrations since its officials have attempted to paint them as manifestations of foreign meddling. Khamenei has accused “US and Western intelligence services, with the financial backing of evil countries,” of orchestrating these protests.
In Iraq, anti-Iran sentiment has monopolized the demonstrations. Last week in Baghdad, protesters were pictured torching an Iranian flag. On Sunday, they threw gasoline bombs at the Iranian Consulate in the country’s capital of Karbala. The former head of the Iraqi National Archives explained that, “the revolution is not anti-American, it is anti-Iran; it is anti-religion – anti-political religion, not religion as such.” Pro-Iranian paramilitary forces have violently intervened in recent demonstrations. Since October 1, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reports that 301 protesters have been killed, and thousands more injured.
As Tehran continues to dismiss these protests as inauthentic and foreign-led, demonstrators will only gain more momentum. While Iran grapples with the economic consequences of Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign, it may not be able to survive the coupled onslaught of these protests.
*The writer is a master’s candidate in counter-terrorism and homeland security at IDC Herzliya’s Lauder School of Government. She is also associate producer and analyst at the Center for Security Policy in Washington.
https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Is-Iran-losing-the-Middle-East-608152

AMCD Applauds Secretary Pompeo for Supporting Civil Unrest in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon -Need to Appoint Special Task Force
EINPresswire.com/November 18, 2019
U.S, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued public statements of support for the civil society in Iran seeking the separation of mosque and state, protesters in Iraq seeking freedom from Iranian interference in its internal affairs, and protesters in Lebanon seeking freedom from Iranian domination through its proxy, Hezbollah. The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy supports all these positions.
“These revolutions are organic by the people and are rejecting what the traditional political parties and their leaders have sold them over the years,“ said AMCD co-chair, Tom Harb. “All three revolutions are rebelling against corruption and their dire economic situations and they consider Iranian influence as the key cause of the corruption and economic deterioration.”
Over the past decade, the Islamic Republic of Iran has tipped the balance of effective force in the Middle East in its favor. It has achieved superior conventional force with the use of influence operations and third-party forces. The key ingredient here has been the Quds Force, the external operations wing of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC). The fact that Iran now has such an extensive and geographically dispersed network of alliances gives it ample scope to conduct deniable operations.
However, it is very expensive for Iran to fund such a large group network of alliances throughout the Middle East. The sanctions imposed by the U.S. are biting and its own population and its third party alliances are suffering the effects economically. These sanctions have caused the Iranian GDP to shrink by 6% and have thus caused its alliances to dwindle dramatically. The recent unrest was brought about by regressing economic conditions, while the local populations see corrupt politicians getting paid to advance Iranian interests all over the greater Middle East.
“U.S. sanctions are working and should be expanded, with the goal of limiting Iran’s influence to its border,” said AMCD vice-chair, Hossein Khorram. “Iran should be held accountable for its lack of respect for the human rights of its citizens.”
“Iran is a signatory to Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Khorram continued, “but it is unlikely to change course. Most likely, Iran will continue to seize opportunities to expand its third-party capability. It is up to the United States to seize this golden opportunity by strategically nurturing secular nationalist movements in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon before Iran forces their submission through terror and intimidation as it has so many times in the past.”
“Nature abhors a vacuum,” added AMCD co-chair, John Hajjar. “If these corrupt governments fail, the Islamist militias of Hezbollah, the PMU, Quds force and IRGC will fill the void. In fact, this may be the plan contemplated by the Mullahs all along.”
The American Middle Eastern community, estimated at 3.2% of the U.S. population, can be the catalyst for the United States’ support of secular civil society against Iran’s expansionist Islamic ideology. We strongly support the formation of a US Task force on the protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to include the Administration, Congress and Mideastern Americans. The AMCD stands ready to participate.
Rebecca Bynum
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy
+1 615-775-6801

Intelligence Leaks Reveal How Iran Gained Influence over Iraq
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 18 November, 2019
Hundreds of pages of Iranian intelligence documents detailing how Iran managed to gain influence over neighboring Iraq have been leaked.
Obtained by The New York Times and The Intercept, the 700 pages of Iranian intelligence cables show Tehran’s efforts to embed itself in Iraq, including the role Iranian spies played in appointing Iraqi officials.
Dating between 2014 and 2015, they revealed that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi shared a “special relationship” with Tehran when he served as oil minister in 2014. The exact nature of that relationship is not detailed in the cable.
“No Iraqi politician can become prime minister without Iran’s blessing, and Abdul Mahdi, when he secured the premiership in 2018, was seen as a compromise candidate acceptable to both Iran and the United States,” reported The Intercept.
Former PM Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, spent more than two decades in exile in Syria and Iran. He was a favorite of Tehran’s and served as premier between 2006 and 2014. His replacement, the British-educated Haidar al-Abadi, was seen as more friendly to the West and less sectarian.
This did not worry the Iranians, because several ministers in Abadi’s government enjoyed close ties with Tehran. For example, Ibrahim al-Jafari — who had previously served as Iraqi prime minister and by late 2014 was the foreign minister — was, like Abdul Mahdi, identified as having a “special relationship” with Iran. In an interview, Jafari did not deny that he had close relations with Iran, but said he had always dealt with foreign countries based on the interests of Iraq. The transportation minister — Bayan Jabr, who had led the Iraqi Interior Ministry at a time when hundreds of prisoners were tortured to death with electric drills or summarily shot by death squads — was deemed to be “very close” to Iran. When it came to Iraq’s education minister, one cable said: “We will have no problem with him.” The former ministers of municipalities, communications, and human rights were all members of the Badr Organization, a political and military group established by Iran in the 1980s to oppose Saddam Hussein. The former minister of municipalities denied having a close relationship with Iran, while the former human rights minister did. The former minister of communications said that he served Iraq, not Iran, and that he maintained relationships with diplomats from many countries. In fall 2014, Jabr, then the transportation minister, welcomed Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, to his office. Soleimani had come to ask a favor: Iran needed access to Iraqi airspace to fly planeloads of weapons and other supplies to support the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad in its fight against opposition factions.
Jabr agreed.
Jabr confirmed the meeting with Soleimani, but said the flights from Iran to Syria carried humanitarian supplies and religious pilgrims traveling to Syria to visit holy sites, not weapons and military supplies to aid Assad as American officials believed. Meanwhile, the administration of Barack Obama believed that Maliki’s “draconian policies and crackdowns on Iraqi Sunnis had helped lead to the rise of the ISIS group,” reported The Intercept. “In Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, which Iran considers crucial to its national security, the Revolutionary Guards — and in particular its Quds Force, led by Soleimani — determines Iran’s policies. “Ambassadors to those countries are appointed from the senior ranks of the Guards, not the foreign ministry, which oversees the intelligence ministry, according to several advisers to current and past Iranian administrations.” According to the reports, after the American troop withdrawal in 2011, Iran moved quickly to add former CIA informants to its payroll. One undated section of an intelligence ministry cable shows that Iran began the process of recruiting a spy inside the State Department.
The State Department official is not named in the cable, but the person is described as someone who would be able to provide “intelligence insights into the US government’s plans in Iraq, whether it is for dealing with ISIS or any other covert operations.” In interviews, Iranian officials acknowledged that Iran viewed surveillance of American activity in Iraq after the United States invasion as critical to its survival and national security.
When reached by telephone by The Intercept, Hassan Danaiefar, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq from 2010 to 2017 and a former deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ naval forces, declined to directly address the existence of the cables or their release, but he did suggest that Iran had the upper hand in information gathering in Iraq.“Yes, we have a lot of information from Iraq on multiple issues, especially about what America was doing there,” he said. The cables also tackled the 2014 massacre of Sunnis in the farming community of Jurf al-Sakhar. It was a vivid example of the kinds of sectarian atrocities committed by armed groups loyal to Iran’s Quds Force. Jurf al-Sakhar, which lies just east of Fallujah in the Euphrates River Valley, is lush with orange trees and palm groves. It was overrun by the ISIS in 2014, giving militants a foothold from which they could launch attacks on the cities of Karbala and Najaf. When militias supported by Iran drove the militants out of Jurf al-Sakhar in late 2014, the first major victory over ISIS, it became a ghost town. Tens of thousands were displaced, and a local politician, the only Sunni member on the provincial council, was found with a bullet hole through his head.

Lebanese Eurobonds, inevitable default or trade of a lifetime
Dan Azzi/Annahar/November 18/2019
While the size of Lebanese debt is formidable, it is almost all internal and circular, and can (and should) be resolved over a weekend of tough, candid conversations.
Lebanese Eurobonds are trading at yields-to-maturity touching 80%, and these are the ones due in April 2020. Credit Default Swap levels have hit 5000 bps, up from the already ludicrous 1,500 level only a few weeks ago.
Clearly, market participants have priced in a default, with metaphysical certitude, on all bonds maturing after the ones supposed to pay off this month. Even Lebanese government officials have stated (then recanted) on multiple occasions that they will restructure, reschedule, postpone, and other euphemistic terms that confirm this view. According to the journalist who first broke the rescheduling statement in a local paper, the minister who announced it was reading from a document, i.e. while not inevitable, this is most certainly an option being seriously considered at the highest echelons of government. So, if the smartest people in the room, as well as the insiders, are telling you that they’ll default, should we end this article right here and move on to look at the safer Venezuelan or Argentinian Bonds for our distressed debt play?
Let’s look at the numbers. The eurobonds outstanding are $29.8 billion. We know that $16 billion are held by Lebanese banks and another $3 billion by the Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL), and an estimated $600 million by individuals. According to Bloomberg, which is not necessarily comprehensive, around $5 billion are held by foreigners. That leaves $5-6 billion with unknown ownership, but, at the very least, 67-84% are owned locally. The total Lebanese debt number that keeps being thrown around is $86 billion. Thus, at worst, 5-11% is held by foreigners.
However, if we add the debt held by the central bank, namely bank deposits lent to the central bank, which is now $110 billion (60% of which is in dollars, i.e. more than the eurobonds), that makes Lebanese government debt in the order of up to $180 billion, depending on how you calculate the recoverability value of some assets. So, basically, the eurobonds held by foreigners constitute something like 3-6% of all government debt.
Why am I making a big deal about debt by foreigners? Think of a credit card with a $10,000 limit. Suppose you charge $1,000 on it and you determine that you can’t pay and decide to default. Would you default on the $1,000 or would you run up the card to the whole ten grand, after one last boondoggle in Las Vegas the weekend before you default? While the size of Lebanese debt is formidable, it is almost all internal and circular, and can (and should) be resolved over a weekend of tough, candid conversations. So the bonds owned locally could all be paid through the usual financial engineering acrobatics. Payment goes from central bank, to Euroclear, to local bank, and right back to BDL, all solved à la Libanaise, while we do our internal “family” restructuring that nobody outside the country has to know about.
Once you consider the face value of the bonds, the case gets even more compelling. At current market values, BDL can buy the whole lot for a significant discount. If we dispatch our favorite verbally-challenged, conversationally accident-prone minister to a packed press conference, BDL can buy the whole lot for even less, while the ministry’s communications department issues their usual clarifications — “I meant restructuring … no rescheduling … no postponement. No, I meant everything will be paid on time.”The case for restructuring the whole system is self-evident — haircuts on deposits, devaluation, forced conversions, etc. So, why am I more bullish on the eurobonds? It’s quite simple, actually. If I were a decision-maker in the Government of Lebanon, why would I wreck my sovereign FICO 800-score, a record of never having defaulted on debt since the country’s independence, all for 5% of my debt?
It’s not because I’m a nice guy — it’s actually quite cynical and pragmatic. After the carnage is done, with the brutal local restructuring, I’d like to go back to the international markets at reasonable rates and use my intact credit record, to attract funds during the rebuilding phase.
Too wimpy to take a naked position? How about hedging your long position with a short on the bonds paying in two weeks? Who in their right mind would be preparing to default in April, right after paying $2 billion in November? The risk in this trade is that my analysis assumes the existence of the infamous “rational man” (ubiquitous in Economics texts), which is even more “unicornal” in the history of Lebanese Government decision-making. This is not a trade for the faint-hearted. It is the quintessential contrarian trade — this decade’s tinier version of John Paulson’s shorting subprime in 2008. It’s designed for a ballsy distressed debt hedge fund, taking a majority position (to get voting control). And the doozy on the whole thing? BDL’s gold is held in New York, all ripe for a lawsuit in case any public official wants to turn a slip of the tongue into action.

Matbakh El Balad: The initiative that feeds 1000 Lebanese protesters a day
Maysaa Ajjan/Annahar/November 18/2019
Matbakh El Balad serves food for free and it has a donation box for those who can contribute.
BEIRUT: Every night at Martyr’s Square in a small corner in Downtown, Beirut, the high-pitched sound of the clanging of pots and pans can be heard three times: at five, seven and nine in the evening. Usually, this sound signals that “food is ready” for the hundreds of protestors who visit Downtown daily “and Beirut in general,” according to chef Wael Lazkani.
Lazkani is the founder of Matbakh el Balad, an initiative that, together with the help of volunteers, feeds around 1000 hungry protestors a day. “It’s not just the protesters who are welcome to eat in our humble corner,” Lazkani said. “It’s people from all over Beirut. The economic crisis in this country has left many families struggling,” he added. The idea came to Lazkani’s mind on the third day of the revolution. “We were hearing rumors that the protestors were hungry and no one was feeding them. So my friends and I brought a huge cooking pot, a portable stove and some food to prepare. That day, we made soup for 200 people,” he said. Word quickly spread about a chef feeding people for free, and soon enough, people were sending food from their own kitchens to help.
After three to four days, Lazkani was overtaken by the quantity of food that’s being given, and by the number of people who showed up when they heard the now-customary sound of clanging pots and pans. “I realized that the economic mismanagement of this country had actually resulted in hunger. I realized the need for an initiative like Matbakh el Balad,” Lazkani told Annahar. Matbakh El Balad serves food for free and it has a donation box for those who can contribute. The kitchen has close to 30 volunteers, with 10 volunteers taking daily shifts and organizing their schedules around the initiative. “We’re here every day after 4:00 p.m., except when there are general strikes,” said Lazkani. Annahar spoke to Sahar Hafdah, a volunteer at Matbakh El Balad who joins after her shift as a restaurant manager. “I’ve been with the initiative since day one. When Wael took out his cooking pot and asked for our help, I didn’t think twice,” Hafdah said. “The idea was to feed the people sleeping here in tents, then we found out there was a need among the larger crowd and we’ve been catering to that ever since.”Lazkani and Hafdah realize that, if Matbakh El Balad were to continue operating, it needs a financial plan. “We’ve already started saving money, and we’re being careful with the cost of the food we cook,” Lazkani said. “For example, we’re focusing on grains instead of meat so that our budget holds. We hope we can sustain this initiative in the future.”

The Ravages of Inequality/The Lebanese are united in revolt, but their political system is not made to calm their rage.
Lydia Assouad/Carnegie MEC/November 18/2019
This is a modified English-language version of an article that appeared in the French daily Le Monde, which can be read here.
For the first time in recent history, the Lebanese have been united in revolt. Since October 17 they have been protesting, but not according to their religious, social, or geographical backgrounds. They are calling for an end to the corrupt political system kept in place by a political and economic elite that has for far too long denied them economic opportunities and the simple ability to make ends meet.
Their first success came on October 29, when Prime Minister Sa‘d Hariri announced the resignation of his government. The widespread grievances against the elite are justified when we take a look at the data: Lebanon has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, alongside Chile, Brazil, and South Africa. In a study published by the World Inequality Lab, I was able to estimate the distribution of Lebanese national income between 2005 and 2014 thanks to newly available individual tax records. The results speak for themselves: The richest 1 percent of Lebanese receives 25 percent of national income. To put this into perspective, in the United States and France, where inequality is increasing and is at the heart of public debates, the richest 1 percent receives 19 percent and 11 percent of total national income, respectively.
Another striking statistic in Lebanon is that the richest 0.1 percent of the population, around 3,700 people, earns as much as the bottom 50 percent, almost 2 million people—both equivalent to one tenth of national income. The richest group, which includes members of the political class, enjoys a standard of living similar to their counterparts in high-income countries, while the poorest suffer from extreme poverty, as in low-income countries. This polarization exacerbates the disconnect between the ruling elite and “the rest.” Shi‘a from the southern city of Tyre and Sunnis from the northern city of Tripoli have finally found common ground, because the political elite extracts large rents at their expense.
This concentration of income in the hands of the few is hardly a new phenomenon. Inequality has been extreme in Lebanon since at least 2005, the first year for which we have data. Why did inequality remain absent from the public debate until now?
The lack of figures on the socioeconomic situation in the country is one reason. The last national census was held in 1932. A banking secrecy law has been in force since 1956. And the last study estimating income distribution before my own analysis dates back to 1960! This lack of transparency contributed to a widespread narrative that inequality in Lebanon was not high by historical and international standards.
Another reason might be that the political system, which is based on religious patronage, creates citizens who primarily identify with their sect not their class. The political elites have strong incentives to maintain and strengthen these identities that allow them to favor financial and economic arrangements within their sect and control their respective regions. They amplify the rents extracted from the financial and real estate sectors, on which the Lebanese economy relies. In exchange, these sectarian elites provide to their communities basic public goods such as jobs, reductions in school fees, or health services. Even if the Lebanese are probably well aware of these schemes, they did not try to overthrow the system until now because in the absence of a state they preferred to have public goods provided by wealthy politicians to not having these goods at all.
Lebanon is caught in a vicious circle. Its rentier economy, coupled with the quasi-absence of a state, has caused extreme levels of inequality and poverty, which in turn have increased the public’s reliance on services provided by sectarian leaders. These enabled the latter to continue to enjoy support from the population, remain in power, and increase their wealth. Yet this, in turn, led to higher levels of inequality and a greater reliance on the system.
It took an economic and financial crisis, years of public mismanagement (in 2019 the cabinet met 20 times to finally agree on a budget last summer!), and the government’s introduction of particularly inappropriate austerity measures to finally break the cycle. This opens a historic window to undertake structural changes. These are essential to avoid the economic disaster the country faces and to allow Lebanon to exit from the political and economic deadlock in which it has been mired since the civil war’s end.
There are alternatives to austerity to tackle Lebanon’s public debt crisis. They include negotiating a form of debt relief with the country’s creditors—mostly Lebanese banks that are highly connected to the political elite. It also includes increasing fiscal revenues by creating a progressive tax on income and wealth.
With regard to taxation, there is a large avenue for improvement in Lebanon. The Lebanese state mostly relies on taxing consumption. This is notoriously regressive, as it imposes the same amount of tax on everyone, regardless of one’s income level. The state also does a very poor job of collecting revenues, with tax revenues in Lebanon representing 15 percent of GDP, against 35 percent on average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. The personal income tax system is archaic. It taxes each source of income separately, thereby decreasing both its progressivity as well as the total amount of tax collected. The tax rates applied to the richest are quite low by international standards—on average 21 percent in Lebanon, as opposed to 37 percent in the U.S. and 45 percent in France. A key priority is to radically reform the tax system to make it rely mostly on direct taxation, as opposed to indirect taxation (tax on consumption), and to create a general and progressive income tax on all sources of income (labor and capital incomes).
Moving from income to wealth, one option is to implement an exceptional tax on private capital, in particular on real estate. This tax would probably apply to a large base of people—although we still do not have reliable estimates of total private capital in Lebanon. Lebanese billionaires’ wealth, the tip of the iceberg, represented on average 20 percent of national income between 2005 and 2016, as opposed to 2 percent in China, 5 percent in France, and 10 percent in the U.S. This suggests that such a tax might raise a considerable amount of revenue in a short time. Wealth in Lebanon comes mostly from inefficient rents. Decreasing their sources would mean improving the welfare of the many, especially when we know that wealth inequality is a primary cause of income inequality. The amounts collected could help to weaken sectarian patronage and to undertake needed investments in infrastructure, education, and health. These structural measures could address the most important demand of protestors: An opportunity to have a future.