A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 29-30/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 44th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 29-30/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 44th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
November 29-30/2019

Tites For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 29-30/2019
Protests at VAT, BDL as Uprising Enters Day 44
Lebanon central bank to take needed steps amid crisis: Banking official
Aoun Chairs Baabda Financial Meeting Boycotted by Hariri
Report: Hizbullah Asks Aoun to ‘Postpone’ Consultations
Reports: Khatib’s Chances Still High, Aoun, Shiite Duo Still Open to Hariri’s Return
Khatib Chances Reportedly Surge as He Says Hariri Talks Not Negative
Kubis Discusses ‘Urgently Needed’ Measures with Salameh
Ministry of Defense: Military units receive orders from army command only
El Hassan, Kubis tackle current situation
Citizens Block Roads with Vehicles in Protest at Fuel Crisis
Groups Split over ‘Welcoming, Repatriating’ Refugees
Press Conference Sheds Light on Fake Cancer Medications
Protesters gather in Lebanon’s Zahle, Beirut amid PM speculation

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 29-30/2019
Protests at VAT, BDL as Uprising Enters Day 44
Naharnet/November 29/2019
For the 43rd day in a row, protesters demanding an overhaul of the political class continue to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government and termination of corruption. A group of protesters gathered early on Friday, for the second day, near the Finance Ministry’s VAT building in Adlieh. They blocked the entrance to the building preventing access for employees. “Our revolution is peaceful and targets the corrupt. We consented to requests asking us not to block the streets, our moves target major state institutions and banking and financial institutions,” one protester said in remarks to LBCI reporter. “Lebanese pay government taxes but don’t get services or any balanced growth in return. Tax evasion in Lebanon amounts to around $4 to 5 billion dollars,” another protester said, sitting cross-legged on the pavement brandishing the Lebanese flag. Later, anti-riot police tried to keep protesters at a distance from the VAT building that angered the demonstrators. Demonstrators also gathered near the Central Bank in Zahle and the Central Bank in the southern town of Nabatieh to protest against the bank’s policies against the dollar and money exchange houses that they say have contributed to the country’s economic crisis. They protested under the banner “the Lebanese pound is doing fine.”Similar moves were taken on Thursday outside the Central Bank in Beirut’s commercial Hamra district, calling for fiscal measures that will not affect small depositors and the poor. Amid dollar shortages, Lebanese banks have imposed unprecedented financial controls to preserve liquidity, further paralyzing the country and forcing up prices amid fears of financial collapse. Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was Aoun’s and Hizbullah’s favorite to lead a new Cabinet, withdrew his candidacy for the premiership, saying he hoped to clear the way for a solution to the political impasse after over 40 days of protests. Protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government. Hariri had resigned Oct. 29 in response to the mass protests ignited by new taxes and the severe financial crisis. His resignation met a key demand of the protesters but plunged the country into uncertainty, with no clear path to resolving its economic and political problems. Hariri had insisted on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hizbullah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians.

Lebanon central bank to take needed steps amid crisis: Banking official
Reuters, Beirut/Friday, 29 November 2019
Lebanon’s central bank governor will take “necessary, temporary measures” to preserve the banking sector and depositor rights, the banking association head said on Friday. Salim Sfeir, chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) that represents the country’s banks, read a statement after a top-level meeting at the presidential palace as Lebanon grapples with the worst economic crisis in decades. He did not give details on the steps and added without elaborating that Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh had also made “some suggestions that require legal provisions.”“The central bank governor was assigned to take the necessary, temporary measures, in coordination with the banking association, to issue circulars,” Sfeir said after the meeting with President Michel Aoun, Salameh, and government officials. “This is to preserve stability, confidence in the banking and monetary sector, as well as its safety, and depositors’ rights.”In response to a question from reporters, he repeated previous remarks from officials that there will be no formal capital controls. Lebanese banks have imposed new curbs on access to cash, fueling depositor worries over their savings despite government assurances they are safe. The banks have tightened limits on withdrawing US dollars and blocked nearly all transfers abroad amid worries about a capital flight and political gridlock over forming a new government. Since protests erupted across Lebanon on October 17, pressure has piled on the financial system. A hard currency crunch has deepened, with many importers unable to bring in goods, forcing up prices and heightening concerns of financial collapse. In a Reuters interview this month, Sfeir described the new bank controls as “a fence to protect the system” until things return to normal.
Sfeir also noted on Friday that Lebanon had fulfilled its commitment and paid off a Eurobond of $1.5 billion that was due to mature on Thursday.

Aoun Chairs Baabda Financial Meeting Boycotted by Hariri
Naharnet/November 29/2019
President Michel Aoun on Friday presided over a financial meeting in Baabda aimed at discussing the deteriorating economic and financial situations in the country. The meeting was being attended by caretaker ministers Ali Hassan Khalil, Salim Jreissati, Mansour Bteish and Adel Afiouni, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, the head of the committee overseeing banks Samir Hammoud, Association of Banks chief Salim Sfeir, caretaker PM Saad Hariri’s financial advisor Nadim al-Munla and Presidency Director General Antoine Choucair. Media reports said Hariri had been invited to the meeting but opted to boycott it. “Hariri boycotted the financial meeting and was represented by his adviser Nadim al-Munla and Minister Adel Afiouni, because he considers that the solutions to the financial, economic and social crises begin by setting a date for the binding parliamentary consultations and forming a government whose mission would be to run the country’s affairs and resolve crises,” al-Jadeed TV said. The meeting comes as Lebanon grapples with widespread anti-government protests since October 17, a free-falling economy, and an escalating liquidity crisis. The dollar exchange rate in the parallel market has shot up from the pegged rate of 1,507 pounds to the greenback to around 2,250. Fear of financial collapse caused a capital flight and some $800 million appear to have left the country from October 15 to November 7, a period during which the banks were mostly closed. Vehicles ran out of gas Friday and were parked in the middle of the streets in protest amid an open-ended strike by the owners of gas stations. The owners have accused the central bank and oil importers of failing to honor an agreement on allowing them to pay in Lebanese lira amid the dollar shortage in the country. The Syndicate has staged several strikes in recent months over the same crisis.

Report: Hizbullah Asks Aoun to ‘Postpone’ Consultations
Naharnet/November 29/2019
Hizbullah has reportedly asked President Michel Aoun to delay the binding parliamentary consultations, allegedly relying that PM Saad Hariri -who withdrew his candidacy- agrees to lead a new government, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday. Unnamed political sources told the daily that Hizbullah had contacted Aoun for that purpose. They said that Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement (founded by Aoun) and other parties still believe that Hariri might agree to lead a new government. Stalled political consultations to nominate a new prime minister enter a new crisis. Hizbullah insists to nominate Hariri who insists on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hizbullah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians. Politicians have failed to agree on the shape and form of a new government. Aoun has not set a date for binding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new premier.

Reports: Khatib’s Chances Still High, Aoun, Shiite Duo Still Open to Hariri’s Return

Naharnet/November 29/2019
The chances of Samir Khatib to lead the new government are still high and President Michel Aoun, Hizbullah and the AMAL Movement are not opposed to the re-designation of caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, media reports said on Friday. “Samir Khatib is still an option and his chances could be higher than those of other candidates in light of the pressing situations,” informed sources told LBCI television, noting that Hariri has not suggested another candidate. A political source informed on the negotiations meanwhile told the TV network that “communication channels are open with Samir Khatib and his chances are calmly rising.”The source added that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is playing a role in the negotiations. Information obtained by MTV meanwhile said that Aoun “does not mind a new government led by Hariri” but “does not want to wait indefinitely.”MTV also reported that Hizbullah and AMAL are still open to Hariri’s return to the PM post and that they will not endorse any candidate not enjoying Hariri’s consent.

Khatib Chances Reportedly Surge as He Says Hariri Talks Not Negative
Naharnet/November 29/2019
The chances of the engineer Samir Khatib to lead the new government have surged and the picture will become clearer over the coming few hours, which might witness a complete agreement over the shape of the government and its premier, LBCI television reported Thursday. Khatib himself meanwhile issued a statement about his meeting on Wednesday with caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. “Some media outlets have circulated reports suggesting that the meeting that was held yesterday was negative… Engineer Khatib stresses that he sensed from PM Hariri complete support and responsiveness,” his office said.

Kubis Discusses ‘Urgently Needed’ Measures with Salameh
Associated PressظNaharnet/November 29/2019
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis said he met Friday with Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and discussed with him measures “urgently needed to stop the further deepening” of the economic crisis and to increase the ability of the banking sector to cope with the pressures.
“Formation of a credible and competent government that can regain the trust of the people and of the international partners of #Lebanon is the priority,” Kubis tweeted.

Ministry of Defense: Military units receive orders from army command only
NNA/November 29/2019
The press office of the Ministry of Defense explained, in a statement on Friday, that all military units only act upon the orders they receive from the Lebanese army command. “All units and forces of the Lebanese army brigades receive orders from the army command only, particularly from the army commander through the operations room,” the statement read. As to the Defense Minister, the statement indicated that “his role is to ensure that the army command is acting in compliance with the Cabinet decisions.”

El Hassan, Kubis tackle current situation
NNA/November 29/2019
Caretaker Interior and Municipalities Minister, Rayya El Hassan, on Friday received in her office at the Ministry the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on the current political situation, especially the issue of the new government formation and the need for adotping swift reform measures that would tackle the current economic, financial and social situation.

Citizens Block Roads with Vehicles in Protest at Fuel Crisis
Naharnet/November 29/2019
People got caught in their vehicles that ran out of gas on Friday after gas station owners announced an open-ended strike a day earlier. Citizens in the northern city of Tripoli blocked roads with their vehicles in protest at the crisis. In Beirut, taxi drivers and delivery workers staged a protest in the Cola area. Nearby roads were meanwhile blocked in the Corniche al-Mazraa area. Long queues of citizens were seen swarming some gas stations that remained open although only small quantities were being sold to desperate customers. Protesters meanwhile blocked several key roads in the Bekaa region. Petrol stations have suspended services because of a shortage of dollars needed to pay for imports, a syndicate head said. A rationing of dollars by banks in protest-hit Lebanon has sparked growing alarm. The Syndicate of Gas Stations Owners said “some of us received threats from different parties urging us to open our stations.” Fadi Abou Shakra, an adviser to the Syndicate, told MTV: “We can end the strike if the dollar is provided at the official rate.” For two decades, the Lebanese pound has been pegged to the greenback at and both currencies used interchangeably in daily life.

Groups Split over ‘Welcoming, Repatriating’ Refugees
Naharnet/November 29/2019
Two demonstrations were held near the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon in Beirut’s Zqaq al-Blat, one demanding the repatriation of Syrian refugees and another welcoming them on Lebanese soil. The first group raised slogans demanding that refugees residing in Lebanon since the 2011 Syria war, return to their country. They said Lebanon is enduring massive economic burdens as a result. “We were alarmed by reports that some plan to integrate refugees in Lebanese society, meanwhile Lebanon is passing through an economic and financial crisis,” one protester told LBCI reporter, “our move did not come from nowhere.”Meanwhile, a group of activists stood on an adjacent sidewalk brandishing slogans against “racism,” and welcoming the presence of refugees. More than 1 million Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon. The government estimates the true number of Syrians in the country to be 1.5 million. While Lebanon is neither a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor its 1967 Protocol, the government maintains an “open border” policy whereby registered Syrian refugees can live and work in Lebanon. Lebanon has been gripped with nationwide protests since October 17 and a worsening economic and financial crisis unprecedented in the country’s history.

Press Conference Sheds Light on Fake Cancer Medications
Naharnet/November 29/2019
Demonstrators gathered outside Lebanon’s Health Ministry on Friday calling for investigations into fake cancer drugs following a rise in death cases reported by healthcare workers. The protesters called for the establishment of a special investigation committee to dwell on the file.Wassef Harake, a lawyer and activist, said: “We call for the formation of a special committee to investigate into the file. It must not be neglected or forgotten. This is not a regular case, this case requires a revolution.”Harake recited a list of names including pharmacists, doctors and hospitals that he said could be helping the counterfeits reach the market.The move comes as Lebanon grapples with nationwide protests against corruption and an overhaul of the entire political class.

Protesters gather in Lebanon’s Zahle, Beirut amid PM speculation
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 29 November 2019
Protesters have gathered outside the Central Bank in the Lebanese city of Zahle in protest at the bank’s policies amid the ongoing political and economic crisis in the country, reported the Lebanese channel LBC on Friday. In the capital Beirut, young men attempted to block entry to the Ministry of Finance’s TVA building, reported the National News Agency (NNA). Lebanon is still without a prime minister or cabinet following former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation on October 29. Samir Khatib has been reported by Lebanese media outlets as the most likely candidate to replace Hariri, after the latter said he has no intention of forming a new government. President Michel Aoun had announced binding consultations with MPs to designate Lebanon’s next prime minister for Thursday, before they were later postponed. As of Friday, semi-official capital controls were still in place, limiting the amount of cash that individuals and businesses can access, despite Lebanon paying back a Eurobond worth $1.5 billion that was scheduled to mature on Thursday.

Titles For The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 29-30/2019
Untouchable No More: Hezbollah’s Fading Reputation/Rebecca Collard/Foreign Policy/November 29/2019
Lebanese teachers bring the revolution to class/Nessryn Khalaf/Annahar/November 29/2019
Hosting ‘Green Friday’ during Lebanon’s uprising/Chiri Choukeir/Annahar/November 29/2019
No clear solutions stem from emergency meeting as fears of fuel shortage mount/Georgi Azar/Annahar/November 29/2019
Hezbollah threatens the peaceful and non-sectarian protests in Lebanon/Robert Fisk/Independent/November 29/2019

The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 29-30/2019
Untouchable No More: Hezbollah’s Fading Reputation
Rebecca Collard/Foreign Policy/November 29/2019
As Hezbollah sides with Lebanon’s political elite, protesters in Beirut are increasingly willing to criticize it.
BEIRUT—It was the sort of chant that, only a month or so ago, would have been all but unthinkable in Lebanon. “Terrorists, terrorists, Hezbollah are terrorists,” yelled some of the hundreds of anti-government protesters who stood on a main road in Beirut early Monday morning, in a tense standoff with supporters of Hezbollah and another Shiite party, the Amal Movement.
Other protesters told the chanters to stop, but as widespread economic discontent and anger engulf Lebanon—and with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah defending the government—the sanctity around Hezbollah’s reputation is clearly broken.
“Hezbollah is being seen as part and parcel [of] the main hurdle to change in Lebanon,” said Mohanad Hage Ali, a fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful and unilaterally against the whole ruling class—all sects, all political parties. And until recently Nasrallah, who doesn’t have an official government position, was seen as above the endemic corruption that has helped push the country toward a collapse, particularly among Hezbollah’s Shiite support base. Hezbollah’s expulsion of Israeli troops from Lebanese territory in 2000 earned the group the moniker “the resistance” among Lebanese of all sects and political affiliations. Even after the 2006 war, which left swaths of Lebanon in ruins, the group enjoyed popular support for what many here saw as a victory against Israeli aggression by defenders of the country. In May 2008, Hezbollah fighters took over central Beirut after the government threatened to shut down the group’s telecommunications network and remove an ally in charge of airport security, pointing their weapons inside rather than toward the border for the first time.
And as Hezbollah sent thousands of fighters across the border to fight in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad in 2013, more people questioned exactly whom Hezbollah was defending. The group’s reputation has been fading further since the first days of protests in mid-October, which saw large crowds take to the streets in primarily Shiite areas such as Tyre and Nabatieh. Suddenly, with demonstrators there shouting similar anti-government slogans as protesters in Beirut—who want all the current sectarian political leaders gone and new elections under a new system—Hezbollah found itself part of the targeted establishment. The protests are seen as a direct challenge to the gains made by Hezbollah in the 2018 elections and a threat to the organization’s foreign-policy agenda, said Hage Ali.
This week, facing down two thick rows of Lebanese army and riot police on pavement littered with rocks and sticks, some demonstrators complained that Hezbollah’s agenda is not really about building up Lebanon; instead, it goes through Damascus to Baghdad and on to Tehran. Like some of the rising protests in neighboring Iraq, the often youthful demonstrators are intent on calling out Iranian influence in particular.
“Here is Lebanon, not Iran,” some protesters chanted on Monday.
When Nasrallah insisted the Lebanese government should not step down, amid the early demonstrations in October, to many protesters it felt like he was part of the problem.
“It was a ‘reality bites’ moment,” Carnegie’s Hage Ali said. “For Lebanese Shiites who joined the protest movement, it was a shock—why is Hezbollah standing on guard for the status quo that is extremely corrupt and taking the country to a financial and economic crisis?”
Nasrallah attempted to discredit the protesters, implying they were funded by foreign embassies. The protesters laughed it off, and several journalists resigned from Al-Akhbar, a publication usually supportive of Hezbollah’s position.
“They are just trying to keep the system,” said a protester named Baha Yahya, as he waited on a side road for a barrage of tear gas, fired by the army, to clear. “And all we want is to remove the system. That’s what this is all about.”
In the past Hezbollah has managed to avoid most direct criticism of its ties to Tehran and Syria. For decades, Lebanon’s warlords, then political elite, have been propped up by regional and international powers, and the protesters have railed against this foreign meddling in their country. But the protesters have been careful not to single out any one group, and until recently there has been scarce mention of Hezbollah’s Iranian-supplied weapons, which outgun the country’s national army—ironically now holding back the group’s supporters.
Last week, as thousands of people took to the streets of Iran after a hike in the price of fuel there, protesters in downtown Beirut sought some common cause with them, chanting: “From Tehran to Beirut, one revolution that won’t die.”
And Hezbollah supporters are fighting back. Hoisting the flags of Hezbollah and Amal, counterprotesters this week shouted sectarian slogans like “Shiite, Shiite, Shiite” and affirmed allegiance to Nasrallah and Nabih Berri, the head of the Amal Movement and speaker of the Lebanese Parliament.
The anti-government protesters responded with chants of “the people are one”—and then broke into the national anthem.
It’s not exactly clear how the confrontation started on Sunday night, but what is clear is that it has raised fears of a violent escalation to Lebanon’s 6-week-old rebellion against poor sectarian governance and put a further stain on Hezbollah’s image as the country’s defender.
This same bit of road was the front line for much of Lebanon’s civil war. Everyone here knows that, but most of the protesters are too young to personally remember the snipers and checkpoints that controlled it.
Some of the Hezbollah and Amal supporters managed to break through the line, charging the protesters and sending them running down side streets, past buildings still pockmarked from civil war fighting.
“They can reach us if they want,” Yahya said of the Hezbollah and Amal supporters as he waited on a side road. “But they don’t want that. They just want to scare us.”
The mostly male protesters returned with tree branches and sticks. Both sides tried to lob rocks across the no man’s land created by rows of security forces.
Hezbollah blamed a car accident early Monday morning on the protesters’ roadblocks. A video of the incident shows a car hitting an obstacle in the middle of seemingly empty road. There is not a protester in sight. Some saw it as an attempt to portray the protests as a security threat. Hundreds of people turned out for a vigil on Monday evening hoisting Hezbollah and Amal flags and chanting party and sectarian slogans. Thousands of other supporters came out in more overt political rallies. Some sped around scooters honking and again shouting “Shiite, Shiite, Shiite” as they passed anti-government protesters.
“The more Hezbollah attacks them using these sectarian tactics, the more Hezbollah is exposed, and the more Hezbollah will lose,” said Hage Ali, adding that part of the strategy of the counter-revolution is turning it into a sectarian conflict.
If Nasrallah or other Hezbollah or Amal leaders thought a gentle show of force would scare protesters off the street and restore calm, it may have been dangerous miscalculation.
On Monday night, things escalated further with gunfire and clashes, this time with supporters of the Future Movement of the Sunni caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In the southern city of Tyre, party supporters attacked and burned down a protest camp. Attacks and clashes continued Tuesday.
Many of the anti-government protesters call the party-supporting counterprotesters “brainwashed”—referring not just to Hezbollah and Amal supporters but also to those who have come out in less confrontational shows of support for the country’s president, Michel Aoun, and other parties in recent weeks.
Another protester, Yahya’s friend Nader Issrawi, said he believes that in the end, they all want the same thing.
“What they want is like what we want,” Issrawi said. “We are living a life that is such a shit. We all just want to live in freedom, to eat and build our future.”
But it seems they see different paths to that goal. Issrawi and Yahya were home when the clashes started late Sunday night. “I called him and said, ‘Baha, let’s get to the [street]. Our revolution is in danger,’” Issrawi recalled.
Like many here, Yahya is becoming fearful about where the unrest is heading but says he agrees with Issrawi and that it’s a matter of changing the minds of those standing on the other side of the road. “One day,” Yahya said, “everyone will be convinced.”
*Rebecca Collard is a broadcast journalist and writer covering the Middle East.

Lebanese teachers bring the revolution to class
Nessryn Khalaf/Annahar/November 29/2019
Students believe that the process of learning is enhanced when they can apply theories to realistic scenarios like protest sites.
BEIRUT: Students and teachers were among the first groups to join the Lebanese protests when the revolution erupted and the uproar of dissent became thunderous, and now that classes have resumed, many educators are incorporating the events of the demonstrations into their academic syllabi to express their support.The purpose of this academic shift is to help students gain a deeper understanding of Lebanon’s current political ambiance while supporting their desire to keep attending the demonstrations.
“I always allow my students to voice their opinions as I guide them to do so constructively. I want them to not necessarily accept what others say, but definitely respect it,” expressed Nabilah Haraty, assistant professor of oral communication and English at the Lebanese American University.
She also added that each of her sessions starts with 10-15 minutes of discussion so that her students can share their feelings and points of view in a judgment-free environment.
Shireen Kasamani, one of Haraty’s students, told Annahar: “I admire my professor because she’s been very supportive of students who are protesting. She even asked what we desire to see as an outcome of this revolution and has allowed us to base our speeches on the events observed on the Lebanese streets.”
Rana Younis, another student, highlighted how her ethics professor stopped using the book and instead asked his students to present a research paper describing how different ethical approaches would be used to evaluate the revolution.
Students believe that the process of learning is enhanced when they can apply theories to realistic scenarios like protest sites. This initiative has allowed them to turn the protests into their libraries where knowledge and activism meet.
A literature professor at the American University of Beirut also decided to alter the course syllabus to include some classic political novels like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
“I want my students to understand that literature is not about reading boring books; it’s rather a manifestation of events observed in their daily lives, and what could be better than dystopian novels to make them comprehend their country’s political turmoil?” the professor said.
Zeinab Ibrahim, an AUB student, said that “the changes made by some professors have enabled the students to keep protesting without worrying about dense course material and accumulating assignments.”
She then explained to Annahar that by being able to link a course’s content to the events of the revolution, she has become more engrossed in the lessons and more inquisitive as both a student and an activist.
*Laura-Joy Boulos, a psychology professor at USJ, mentioned that she has engaged in several classroom discussions with her students to examine the protests and their psychological effects on individuals, for it’s essential to understand how intense emotions like fear, uncertainty, and hope can impact the human psyche and brain.

Hosting ‘Green Friday’ during Lebanon’s uprising
Chiri Choukeir/Annahar/November 29/2019
The purpose of the Green Friday initiative is to save clothes and gadgets from ending up in the garbage where they are not disposed properly.
BEIRUT: While the world celebrated Black Friday with the usual immense sales and discounts, a group of activists in Lebanon decided to seize the opportunity to have a Green Friday instead.
The trees of the Gibran Khalil Gibran Garden, Centre Ville, displayed a collection of donated clothes. Additionally, the space was occupied by stacks of DVDs and books for anyone to exchange in return for their used clothes or gadgets.
This idea of exchanging clothes and/or gadgets was first initiated by Fridays For Future, a global movement that began after 15 year old Greta Thunberg protested in front of the Swedish parliament for three weeks against the lack of action on climate change. Activists Andrés Succar Rahmi and Marianne Eid decided to join the movement and bring it to Beirut.
“We’re mainly a youth movement that are organizing protests around the world in order to demand a safe future given that climate change might very easily change the way we live,” Rahmi told Annahar. “We are trying to raise awareness and push our politicians to change policies to tackle the climate crisis.”
During the first few minutes of the sale and while the activists were still opening the bags to display clothes, protesters in Riyad el-Solh quickly joined them in setting up the space and choosing their favorite sweaters, jumpers, and over-alls to take home.
Eid explained that the purpose of the exchange is to save clothes and gadgets from ending up in the garbage where they are not disposed properly. The exchange also aids those who cannot afford to buy their own.
“People have been going to stores buying clothes without realizing the negative impact of that on the environment. People need to realize that they can buy second hand clothes in good conditions,” Eid said.
The activists also had multiple university and school books on display to fight against the increasing prices of standardized education books.
“I feel like there’s a huge problem in Lebanon, education is very expensive with no regard to the student. While climate change is the main cause we’re fighting for, we decided to include education in today’s movement,” Rahmi said.
Other than the Green Friday, the group of activists had previously protested at the Bisri Dam in order to stop the deforestation of the land. They have also organized diverse strikes to bring attention and awareness to climate change.

No clear solutions stem from emergency meeting as fears of fuel shortage mount
Georgi Azar/Annahar/November 29/2019
Lebanon’s rapidly deteriorating financial state has raised concerns over its ability to fend off a meltdown while a political deadlock continues to hinder the formation of a much-needed government.
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s central bank governor will take “necessary, temporary measures” to preserve the banking sector and depositor rights, the banking association head said on Friday.
Salim Sfeir, chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) that represents the country’s banks, read a statement after a top-level meeting at the presidential palace as Lebanon grapples with the worst economic crisis in decades.
“The central bank governor was assigned to take the necessary, temporary measures, in coordination with the banking association, to issue circulars,” Sfeir said after the meeting with President Michel Aoun, Salameh, and government officials.
“This is to preserve stability, confidence in the banking and monetary sector, as well as its safety, and depositors’ rights.”
Both officials refused to elaborate on these comments.
The meeting was also attended by a number of caretaker ministers with the notable absence of Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was reparented by his economic adviser, Nadim Munla.
Lebanon’s rapidly deteriorating financial state has raised concerns over its ability to fend off a meltdown while a political deadlock continues to hinder the formation of a much-needed government.
Lebanon has been without a government for a month, with the Shiite duo of Hezbollah and Amal, along with the Free Patriotic Movement, refusing to allow Hariri to establish a purely technocratic government, the demand of the protest movement.
Hariri resigned on October 29 and President Michel Aoun has yet to call for binding parliamentary consultations to appoint a new premier.
In the midst of an increased shortage of dollar liquidity, gas stations continued their strike Friday which caused massive disruptions to motorists across Lebanon. A number of gas stations remained open, however, with massives queues witnessed as Lebanese scrambled to stockpile on fuel.
The strike also caused a rise in black market rates, with some gas stations almost doubling their asking price. A number of motorists reported paying up to LL17,000 for 10 liters.
The Syndicate of Gas Stations owners called on Lebanese officials to urgently find a solution during the emergency meeting, yet no comments on the matter were presented.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese pound continued its downward spiral as the majority of exchange shops also went on strike. On Thursday, the Lebanese pound was trading against the dollar at around LL2,300.

Hezbollah threatens the peaceful and non-sectarian protests in Lebanon
Robert Fisk/Independent/November 29/2019
It was perfectly clear to all of us that the Hezbollah, heroes of the Lebanese resistance until they began sacrificing themselves on the battlefields of Syria, were attempting to sabotage the entire protest movement
Those tens of thousands of largely young protesters demanding a non-sectarian Lebanon were joyful, filled with happiness, determined that this time they would change the wretched confessional nature of their state forever. Then the Hezbollah turned up, a truckload of them, dressed in black and shouting through loudspeakers and holding up posters of their all-Shia militia heroes. Squads of Lebanese interior ministry police appeared in the side streets.
It was perfectly clear to all of us that the Hezbollah, heroes of the Lebanese resistance until they began sacrificing themselves on the battlefields of Syria, were attempting to sabotage the entire protest movement. The young men and women in the street shouted as one: “The government is corrupt, the sectarian leaders are corrupt, all members of parliament are thieves — thieves, thieves, thieves.” But they never – deliberately – mentioned the name of the Hezbollah chairman Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah serves in the Lebanese government.
And two of the men jumped down from the truck – big, tough figures towering over the younger protesters – dodging the police line and moved into the demonstrators, shouting and demanding they end their curses about sectarianism. “The Sayed [Nasrallah] is the only one who is not corrupt!” one of them screamed. These men did not come to talk to the protesters or discuss their objections or even argue. They preached at them, raising their voices and bellowing their words. For a moment I wondered if I was perhaps in the holy city of Kerbala or Najaf. There is in fact no evidence that Nasrallah is corrupt; but thanks to US sanctions on Syria and Iran, the Hezbollah may be running out of cash.
Then the cops, all riot shields and batons, formed two ranks between the Hezbollah and their adversaries.
“I have come from Nabatieh and I have been here eight days and nothing has happened,” the Shiite – no friend of the Hezbollah even though Nabatieh is in the militia’s effective area of control – shouted back.
So is this to be the new pattern of Lebanon’s “revolution”? Will the attacks start now, as they did in Nabatieh this week, when Hezbollah supporters used batons to clear the town’s central square of protesters?
The signs of government decay are everywhere. When the elderly president Michel Aoun gave a short pre-recorded speech on television on Thursday, it was noticed at once that he had been unable even to complete a short series of sentences in one take. The leather-bound books behind him – none of which, I suspect, he has ever read – suddenly changed their position on the shelves between his sentences.
Then a Lebanese journalist, claiming to know all about the broadcast, said that Aoun had fallen asleep between his sentences.
Aoun and prime minister Hariri had earlier told the country’s interior minister, Raya al-Hassan, that she must order the interior police to use water cannons to clear the streets of Beirut and the country’s main highways.
“I will not give this order,” she replied. “This matter is political. It is not a security matter.” Hassan, needless to say, is perhaps the only popular government minister in this country. Nor are the cops or the army unsympathetic to the protesters. Two soldiers were caught on camera weeping with emotion.
Then came the video of minister Akram Shayeb leaving his downtown office to find protesters outside the door. His bodyguards raised their rifles – some of them apparently fired shots in the air – and one pointed his gun at a young woman. “Don’t you threaten us,” she cried, ran forward and kicked the gunman in the testicles. The image of her now famous kick is spray-painted on the walls of central Beirut.
In Martyrs’ Square, the tens of thousands of demonstrators had no time for talk of government “reform”. Nor was there a word about a proposed tax on WhatsApp. The men and women here were highly educated, many with their children, and in many cases professionals: doctors, lawyers, university staff. If this protest fails – and what they want, of course, is constitutional change – they will in many cases leave their country forever, impoverishing Lebanon for generations.
But they were not all rich. I saw poorly dressed farming men and women, in plastic shoes, no socks and dirty clothes. When the sky poured, an old man with a crumpled face and a clutch of plastic umbrellas over his arm ran to me and offered to sell me a brolly for 5,000 Lebanese pounds – about £2.50. When I gave him the money he put it to his lips and kissed the banknotes over and over again, the poor man’s way of expressing his thanks for good fortune.
The crowds here were deeply impressed by a Shiite cleric whose sermon in Beirut told the people they were right to demand freedom from a sectarian government. “Your religion is between you and God,” Sheikh Yasser Audi said. “Freedom must be exercised, the Prophet said this.” The Lebanese army commander, General Joseph Aoun – no relation to the near-speechless president – ordered his soldiers to use no violence against any demonstrators. If they were to be forced back, it must be by pushing them with their bodies, and not by drawing weapons.
I saw several Lebanese soldiers ostentatiously shouldering their weapons with the barrels down and the butts up, a traditional symbol of military personnel when they wish to show they do not intend to use violence. But then again, I saw this in Cairo during the 2011 Egyptian revolution – and look what happened to that. Amid the government – or what is left of it since the Christian Lebanese Forces ministers have resigned – there was talk of Gebran Bassil, the deeply unpopular foreign minister who is indeed the son-in-law of the near-speechless president, being prepared to resign if the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt withdrew his cabinet members from the government.
If this is window dressing, the idea is clearly intended to let the mass protests simmer down. I’m not at all sure, however, that this would any longer work. The bolder street demonstrations become, the greater their demands. And the cry for an entirely new constitution that will utterly abandon the sectarian system of government in Lebanon has grown stronger and stronger. There are many in the Arab and Muslim world who will wish them to fail. Bashar al-Assad for one, Sisi of Egypt for another. Certainly Iran. And the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, whose petty “reforms” are now utterly overshadowed by the real shout for freedom in Lebanon.
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You can see why all the Arab dictators and kings fear this. If Lebanon’s people – especially its young people – succeed in their vast undertaking, then the millions of suppressed and poorly educated men and women across the Arab world will ask why they too cannot have these same freedoms. France supports the Lebanese demonstrators – which is a bit odd since it was the French after the First World War who imposed this vile sectarianism upon Lebanon. The Americans claim they are on the side of the protests. But I suspect this is because they want the Hezbollah to be disowned by the Lebanese – rather than a new free nation in the Middle East.
Well, we shall see.
In the meantime, we will also find out what Hezbollah has in store.
There is a palpable fear on the streets of Beirut. More than one of the interior ministry cops, I noticed, were wearing black face masks to hide their identity. More powerful than the Lebanese army, the Hezbollah obviously fears for its own popularity, and worries that it will in the future be cast into the outer darkness of Lebanon’s sectarian world rather than hero-worshipped. Their appearance at the demonstration in Riad Solh Street was extremely sinister. And be sure it will happen again.
Who would have thought that the winners of the 2006 war with Israel would align themselves with the political and corrupt elites of Lebanon?