A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For December 06- 07/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 51th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For December 06- 07/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 51th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
December 07/2019

Tites For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on December 06-07/2019
Paris to Hold Lebanon Support Meeting on Wednesday
Report: Street Protests Expected Sunday ahead of Consultations to Name PM
Aoun meets delegation of international financial and investment institutions, says cabinet formation will help implementation of CEDRE
Aoun Says Govt. Formation Helps Unlock CEDRE Funds
Report: Parties Putting the ‘Finishing Touches’ on Form of Govt.
Mashnouq to Boycott Consultations, Hajjar Says Mustaqbal to Vote for Khatib
Wahhab Says PM Candidates ‘May Change before Monday
Khatib in ‘Very Good Health’, His Office Says
Bassil Warns Europe against ‘Chaos’ in Lebanon
Bassil from Rome: I ask of you to help Lebanon cast off those who interfere in its affairs
Rome 2019 MED Dialogues: UfM steps up regional action to tackle water scarcity
Al-Rahi: Embassies Facilitating Emigration to Empty Lebanon of Its People, Christians
Over 60 Companies Notify Ministry of Plans to Lay Off Employees
Paris to Convene Lebanon Support Meeting as Hariri Requests Aid for Imports
Lebanon: Depositors Highly Anxious Due to Banks’ Recent Measures
Lebanon appeals for import aid; France to hold meetin
Lebanon caretaker PM Hariri sends aid appeal to ‘friendly’ states before meeting

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on December 06-07/2019
Paris to Hold Lebanon Support Meeting on Wednesday
Naharnet/December 06/2019
France intends to hold a Paris meeting Wednesday for the International Support Group for Lebanon to help the country cope with its dire economic crisis, media reports said. A European official confirmed that invitations to the meeting have been sent out. A Lebanese official meanwhile said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to be invited to the meeting. President Michel Aoun is scheduled to hold binding consultations with parliamentary blocs on Monday with the aim of naming a new premier. Saad Hariri had tendered his government’s resignation on October 29, bowing to pressure from unprecedented street protests against corruption and economic hardships.

Report: Street Protests Expected Sunday ahead of Consultations to Name PM

Naharnet/December 06/2019
Despite reports that political parties have neared a consensus on supporting Samir Khatib for the post of PM-designate, “cautious anticipation” prevails as protests gear for mass rallies against that nomination Sunday, one day before the binding consultations. President Michel Aoun is expected to initiate the binding parliamentary consultations to name a premier on Monday, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. Ministerial sources told the daily that no activity or contacts between political parties was recorded on Thursday regarding the formation of the government. “Scheduling the consultations for Monday instead of holding them earlier, Thursday or Friday, remains a shady issue,” said the sources. Despite “positives” on the course of government formation, ministerial sources fear that the time span extending until Monday is open to unexpected negatives, that would complicate matters further if it were to happen. Activists have called for a massive protest on Sunday ahead of consultations to protest the nomination of Khatib. The Presidency on Wednesday announced that the binding parliamentary consultations to name a PM-designate will be held on Monday. Saad Hariri had tendered his government’s resignation on October 29, bowing to pressure from massive and unprecedented popular protests that erupted on October 17. Aoun refrained from calling for immediate consultations to name a replacement, arguing that prior consensus was needed on the shape of the new government amid the extraordinary situations in the country. Protesters had demanded the formation of an independent technocrat government but media reports have said that the ruling political forces have agreed to form a techno-political cabinet led by prominent contractor Samir Khatib.

Aoun meets delegation of international financial and investment institutions, says cabinet formation will help implementation of CEDRE

NNA/December 06/2019
President Michel Aoun on Friday reassured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions and US Morgan Stanley Bank, headed by Ralph Raheb, that addressing the economic and financial conditions will be a priority of the new Government, once formed. The President pointed out that “The previous Government had achieved an economic vision within the plan to promote the Lebanese economy, and convert it from rentier to productive”. “The Process of oil and gas exploration will begin this January, which will put Lebanon among oil and gas producing countries, at the start of extraction operations” President Aoun said. President Aoun told the delegation that binding Parliamentary consultations will be held next Monday, followed by the formation of the new Government. “This will help the friends of Lebanon to complete the course of the “Cedar” Conference, and launch the developmental projects decided upon” the President added. The President also explained the financial and monetary measures adopted at the last financial meeting, held in Baabda Palace, stressing that “These are temporary measures imposed by the current financial conditions in the country”. The delegation included officials from: Morgan Stanley, CEE, Lazard, Willington, Alliance Bernstein, Blue Crest, Eaton Vance and BFAM. President Aoun then received the President of the Antonine University, Father Michel Galkh, accompanied by a delegation from the University, including: Secretary General, Father Tawfiq Maatouk, Executive Vice President, Dr. Pascal Lahoud, Dean of the Faculty of Administration, Dr. Elie Assaf, and Director of the Alumni Office, Father Charbel Ghanem. The delegation discussed the educational situation in general and the university’s education in particular, in addition to the repercussions which occurred as a result of the ongoing developments, since last October. During the meeting, Father Galkh issued an invitation to President Aoun to attend the Christmas campaign, held annually at the university. The President also received today former MP, Hassan Yaacoub, and discussed with him the current situation in the country. The President of the Republic also met Mr. Naji Khoury, Coordinator of “Dialogue and Bridges” Group.–Presidency Press Office

Aoun Says Govt. Formation Helps Unlock CEDRE Funds

Associated Press/Naharnet/December 06/2019
President Michel Aoun on Friday said that the stern financial measures taken in the country are “temporary because of the current financial conditions.” Aoun, who spoke during a meeting with international investment bankers, said that dealing with the economic and financial crisis will be the priority of the new government once it’s formed. He added that offshore exploration for oil and gas will begin in January and would boost the country’s credentials. Aoun has called for binding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday. He added that the formation of a new Cabinet would help friendly countries release $11 billion in loans and grants made by international donors at the CEDRE conference in Paris last year.’

Report: Parties Putting the ‘Finishing Touches’ on Form of Govt.

Naharnet/December 06/2019
Amid reports that a breakthrough has been made on the formation of a new Lebanese government, parties still have to decide whether it will be composed of 18 or 24 ministers and whether figures of the previous government are set to take seats in the new cabinet, the Saudi Ashaq al-Awsat reported on Friday.
Ministerial sources close to President Michel Aoun told the daily that parties are putting the “finishing touches on the form of the new government, but the sovereign portfolios could be distributed differently. The cabinet could either be formed of 18 or 24 ministers,” they said. They added saying that around four ministers from the resigned government will be given ministerial seats in the new cabinet, including Nada al-Bustani of the Free Patriotic Movement, Salim Jreissati of the President’s quota, Ali Hassan Khalil of AMAL party and Mohammed Fnesih of Hizbullah. “Al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party are to name non-political figures to represent them,” according to the source. With regard to the dispute over the ministries of interior and foreign affairs, and the insistence of Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to get the first, the sources pointed to Asharq al-Awsat that “discussion is still underway in this framework,” but noted that the sovereign ministries are likely to remain with the same political parties.

Mashnouq to Boycott Consultations, Hajjar Says Mustaqbal to Vote for Khatib
Naharnet/December 06/2019
Ex-interior minister and Beirut MP Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Friday announced that he will boycott the binding parliamentary consultations to name a new premier scheduled for Monday. In a tweet, Mashnouq, once a member of al-Mustaqbal bloc, said his decision comes out of “respect for the will of the capital’s residents” following “the statement that was issued by the Union of the Associations of Beiruti Families.” The statement accused President Michel Aoun and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil of seeking to impose the candidate Samir Khatib on parliament prior to the binding consultations.
“They have bypassed the Taef constitution,” they charged. MP Mohammed al-Hajjar meanwhile told al-Jadeed TV that his Mustaqbal bloc is “committed” to voting for Khatib in the consultations.

Wahhab Says PM Candidates ‘May Change before Monday’
Naharnet/December 06/2019
Ex-minister Wiam Wahhab on Friday said that a new premiership candidate might emerge prior to Monday’s binding parliamentary consultations, suggesting that international and domestic forces might push for a nominee other than Samir Khatib. “Lebanon is betting on (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron’s support to halt the financial and economic collapse and the Paris meeting may prompt a change in the premiership candidates before Monday,” Wahhab, who is close to Hizbullah, tweeted.Khatib has so far emerged as the leading candidate to lead the new government, after consensus was reached among the ruling coalition’s main parties. Media reports have said France intends to hold a meeting Wednesday for the International Support Group for Lebanon to help the country cope with its dire economic crisis. A European official confirmed that invitations to the meeting have been sent out. A Lebanese official meanwhile said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to be invited to the meeting.

Khatib in ‘Very Good Health’, His Office Says

Naharnet/December 06/2019
The leading candidate for the post of PM-designate, Samir Khatib, is in “very good health,” his office said on Friday. “Some media outlets published a report about Engineer Khatib’s health, following a series of rumors in this regard that involved insulting and false information which are totally baseless,” the office said in a statement. “Engineer Khatib would like to stress that the aforementioned report — like the rest of the rumors — is false,” the office added. “To whom it may concern: he is in very good health,” it said. Consultations to name a PM-designate will be held Monday, the Presidency has announced, more than a month after a wave of protests led outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri to resign. Khatib is a businessman who is less widely known than most former prime ministers and has no experience in politics. Protesters have demanded the wholesale removal of the current political class and have insisted on a government dominated by technocrats.

Bassil Warns Europe against ‘Chaos’ in Lebanon

Naharnet/December 06/2019
Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday warned Europe that chaos in Lebanon would create repercussions similar to those of the Syrian crisis, such as extremism and a refugee influx towards Europe. “Chaos in Lebanon – which some foreign forces are plotting – will have a similar outcome as that of the Syrian crisis: the country’s ruin, the destruction of its institutions, bloodshed among its sons, roving extremism and an influx of refugees towards you,” Bassil warned in a speech in Rome during the Mediterranean Dialogues conference.“Seeking improvement or out of extremism, Lebanon’s guests (Syrian refugees) will seek to move towards you and Lebanon will not be able to stop them from carrying their problems to you,” Bassil cautioned, addressing the European countries. “Chaos in Lebanon will create a flaw in internal balances, whereas Lebanon, the country of balances, cannot withstand further flaws,” the minister added. Noting that the approach of “winners and losers” in Lebanon is “rejected and unsustainable,” Bassil emphasized that “there is no place in Lebanon for unilateralism.”Speaking during a discussion session later in the day, Bassil said “the current uprising is the only way to implement the necessary reforms, after all other means to achieve them were blocked.”Asked how the young generation is behaving in terms of the unprecedented protests that have rocked Lebanon since October 17, Bassil said the revolt is the result of the “failure of politicians and the political system.”
“People on the streets are rightful, because they took to the streets due to their pain… but some are trying to exploit the issue to achieve negative objectives and control the events but they have so far failed,” Bassil added.

Bassil from Rome: I ask of you to help Lebanon cast off those who interfere in its affairs
NNA /December 06/2019
In his speech on Friday during the opening of the fifth edition of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue in Rome, Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Gebran Bassil, stressed Lebanon’s wish to be a bridge between the East and the West. “Lebanon, with its centered location, is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the Arab-Persian one, yet we want it to be a base for fair solutions,” Bassil said.
He went on to regret that regional crises and wars only bogged Lebanon down in deeper misfortunes. “Lebanon has paid the price for permanent conflicts, as well as that of Palestinian asylum and Syrian displacement,” Bassil added, shedding light on the fact that many Lebanese have lost their jobs to foreign workers.
“The prevailing chaos in Lebanon, which some abroad have prepared for, will be the ruin of the country (..).The result will be an imbalance on the internal scene, yet Lebanon does not want any more divisions,” Bassil maintained. “I ask of you today to help Lebanon cast off those who interfere in its affairs in order to give the country the opportunity to help itself to remain alive and to be an example of coexistence,” Bassil implored. “The saying goes in our country: ‘if your neighbor is fine, then you are fine’. Pay attention, because our eastern Mediterranean is not fine and has many problems. Building peace only happens through dialogue and development,” Bassil concluded. The Caretaker Foreign Minister arrived in Rome on Friday to partake in the inauguration of the fifth edition of the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue. Bassil kicked off his Rome visit by meeting with Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio, with whom he discussed Lebanese-Italian bilateral relations. The pair agreed on the need strengthen ties between both countries in all fields, especially on the economic level whilst facing the dire financial and economic crisis that Lebanon currently endures. Later during the day, and on the sidelines of the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue Conference, Bassil held a series of talks with a number of foreign ministers, including Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt اavusoglu. Talks between both men reportedly touched on the overall situation in Lebanon and the Middle East region, as well as on the impact of the conflicts taking place in the region on both countries. Means of bolstering regional cooperation to confront the Syrian refugee crisis also featured high between the pair.It is to note that Bassil’s participation in the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue Conference affirms Lebanon’s role in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which tackles common issues, most notably environmental and economic cooperation, confronting immigration and unemployment problems among the youth, the role of women, development prospects, and popularizing a culture of peace among Mediterranean countries. In more than one of his meetings in Rome, Bassil stressed the need to establish a Palestinian state and to hold a Saudi-Iranian dialogue.

Rome 2019 MED Dialogues: UfM steps up regional action to tackle water scarcity

NNA /December 06/2019
The UfM is participating in the MED – Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome by holding its 1st Annual Conference on Water Investment and Financing, as part of the UfM Water agenda & Financial Strategy. The main goal of the conference, as presented by the UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel, during his intervention, is “to push the boundaries of traditional thinking about water investments by discussing evidence-based knowledge on opportunities to facilitate new forms of financing and enhance the sustainability of the sector”.
The conference highlighted the necessity of water cooperation for regional security in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The session discussed and examined appropriate options for blending different sources of financing among the stakeholders, international organisations and new forms of Public-Private Partnership. The UfM Secretariat is determined to pave the road for a stronger role for the private actors in the water sector, as this is a cornerstone for sustainable financing. This includes supporting Governments in developing a long-term vision on how to involve the private sector, with the necessary policy-reforms to insure guarantees in delivering such a vital service and resource. The UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel, stated: “The Mediterranean region is facing major environmental issues and dealing with water security is of utmost importance. A stronger role of the private sector is key to achieve the financial sustainability of such a vital sector. Its involvement, together with public institutions, will strengthen the action undertaken by the UfM to cope with these challenges.”
Water-related challenges by 2050 are projected to lower the MENA-region’s GDP by 6-14%, if a do-nothing approach is pursued, as predicted by the World Bank, as large volumes of water are lost due to inappropriate techniques or outdated infrastructure. The Mediterranean region holds only 3% of the global water resources and these can decrease by 15% if nothing is changed in current policies. 250 million people are projected to be considered water-poor by 2025.
The UfM Water Agenda seeks to enhance regional cooperation towards sustainable and integrated water management in the UfM region. Its Financial Strategy is conceived to close the funding gap for water management and facilitate increased financing of investments for improved access to water; protection against the risk of droughts, floods or polluted water; and sustainable growth in the region. The strategy sets 10 common strategic objectives and a menu of 48 actions that individual countries are expected to prioritize and implement according to their individual circumstances, priorities and capacities. The Strategy foresees a series of national training workshops as well as regional activities, including an annual regional conference on water investment and finance.
This 1st UfM Annual Conference on Water Investment and Financing focused on the role of the public-private partnerships (PPP), is part of the nine Forums held on specific topics in the fifth edition of the MED – Mediterranean Dialogues Conference. It was organised by the Union for the Mediterranean in partnership with the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, the Global Water Partnership, the ‘Making Water Cooperation Happen in the Mediterranean’ project as well as the EU Delegation in Cairo, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The full list of speakers is available here. The Secretary General will pronounce keynote speeches during the MED Dialogue days on the “Geopolitical side of Climate Change: Resource Scarcity and Conflicts” and the “Euro-Med Cooperation in view of the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration”. He is accompanied by Deputy Secretary General Isidro Gonzalez, in charge of Water, Environment and Blue Economy; Deputy Secretary General Grammenos Mastrojeni, in charge of Energy and Climate Action; and UfM Water Managing Director, Almotaz Abadi. Is to note that to further pursue its work on climate action, the UfM will be co-organising three side-events at the COP25.-UfM

Al-Rahi: Embassies Facilitating Emigration to Empty Lebanon of Its People, Christians
Naharnet/December 06/2019
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday warned that “some embassies” are facilitating emigration for Lebanese citizens in order to “empty Lebanon of its people and Christians.”Addressing the “young men and women of the civil protest movement,” al-Rahi warned them that “some embassies, which I will not name now, are facilitating the issue of emigration, as if it is a second war to empty Lebanon of its people and Christians.”“Young men and women, you have to remain resilient throughout this plight, the same as our grandfathers and ancestors did during the crises that Lebanon faced throughout history, so that we preserve Lebanon and restore it,” al-Rahi added. “You are rightful when you dream of a country that offers you security, peace and the simplest rights, but you have to show patience and endurance until this black cloud passes,” the patriarch went on to say. Al-Rahi also said that he is praying for “all the young men and women of the civil protest movement,” especially those who “are struggling night and day, as happened two days ago, when the youths organized a sit-in after three citizens committed suicide over the financial situations.” “These youths have one demand: a government that can achieve Lebanon’s rise and recover its role and message,” the patriarch went on to say.

Over 60 Companies Notify Ministry of Plans to Lay Off Employees

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 06/2019
In the span of one week, over 60 companies notified the labor ministry of plans to lay off employees, caretaker minister Camille Abu Suleiman told LBCI television on Friday. The union of restaurant and bar owners has recently said that 265 establishments have closed since the protests began in early October, and warned that this figure could rise to 465 by the end of the year. The World Bank has warned of an impending recession that may see the proportion of people living in poverty climb from a third to half the population. Unemployment, already above 30 percent for young people, would also increase, it has said. Since October 17, Lebanon has been rocked by anti-government protests that triggered a protracted lockdown and prompted the cabinet to resign. Political paralysis amid the ongoing demonstrations has aggravated a dollar liquidity crisis that since September has seen banks limit dollar withdrawals and transfers. With banks failing to provide sufficient dollars, the greenback is selling for more than 2,000 Lebanese pounds on the parallel market for the first time since it was officially pegged at 1,507 in 1997.  Several sectors have struggled to obtain hard currency for imports, with banks capping dollar withdrawals at $500 a week and sometimes less.

Paris to Convene Lebanon Support Meeting as Hariri Requests Aid for Imports
Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 6 December, 2019
France plans to convene a meeting of an international support group for Lebanon next week to mobilize assistance for the country, a Lebanese government official said, as caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri requested aid to help the country secure imports of food and raw materials.A European official said invitations had been sent out for the Dec. 11 meeting in Paris. “It is a meeting to attempt to mobilize assistance to help Lebanon deal with the acute crisis that it is facing,” the Lebanese official said. The official spoke to Reuters as a statement from Hariri’s office said that the caretaker PM requested the aid from friendly countries amid an acute dollar shortage. Hariri “asked them to assist Lebanon by securing credits for imports from these countries, thus ensuring the continuity of food security and raw materials for production in various sectors,” it said. The appeal for aid was sent to eight western and Arab countries. Lebanon is grappling with heavy financial strains. Banks have been imposing tight controls on access to hard currency and transfers abroad for more than a month, fearing capital flight. The crisis has worsened since Oct. 17, when nationwide protests against years of corruption and mismanagement erupted, leading to the resignation of Hariri’s government two weeks later. Lebanon imports most of its basic needs, including wheat, petrol and medicine, leading to a huge trade deficit. Importers have been facing difficulties in getting US dollars to cover imports as the local currency, which has been pegged to the dollar since 1997, lost 40 percent of its value on the black market.

Lebanon: Depositors Highly Anxious Due to Banks’ Recent Measures
Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 6 December, 2019
Despite official statements by Lebanon’s Central Bank (BDL) and the Association of Lebanese Banks, depositors’ anxiety is mounting amid strict measures adopted by banks on capitals and withdrawals. Congestion of cars parked randomly near bank branches across the country and the presence of the security guards and police officers at the entrances are all signs of mounting tension. Inside the bank, depositors wait in lines for their turn. A retired soldier stands behind 85 people before receiving a portion of his salary as permitted by the bank’s procedures. An employee whispers to her friend, telling her to withdraw all the money she has the right to receive, even if she does not need it. “Why?” The friend asks. “Don’t ask. I don’t know. We follow the instructions and we have no right to understand the reasons.” But the employee stresses that there is no fear for deposits in the long term.
“This crisis will be solved,” she says. An employee of another bank, answering his phone, says that there are no dollars in the cash machine. “We are waiting for the batch to come. As soon as it arrives, you have to get the required amount because the machines are being emptied at an insane speed,” he murmurs. “People are nervous and they are making us nervous.”One of the citizens, who preferred not to wait in line and use the ATM instead, was surprised by the new restrictions on withdrawals. She told Asharq Al-Awsat that a few days ago, she was allowed to withdraw from the ATM one million LBP per day. Today, only 500,000 LBP per day and $300 per week can be withdrawn. These measures have turned the bank card into an ineffective means for the depositors. The middle and low-income Lebanese are frightened by their inability to collect their salaries. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Lawyer Ali Abbas said: “Banking procedures are illegal under the Money and Credit Law, which regulates the relationship of banks with depositors, and does not allow restrictions imposed by banks. As for the commitment of banks to circulars issued by the Association of Banks, it is also against the law, because the Association’s circulars are related to the organization of the internal work of banks, and not to regulate the relationship of banks with depositors.” “Therefore, the current measures are de facto procedures, and cannot fall within a state of emergency,” he remarked, explaining that only a governmental decree or a law by Parliament could declare an emergency state.

Lebanon appeals for import aid; France to hold meeting
BEIRUT (Reuters)/December 06/2019
Lebanon appealed to friendly states on Friday to help it import essential goods as it grapples with an acute economic crisis, and official sources said France would convene an international meeting next week to mobilize support for the country.Lebanon’s economic crisis, the worst since its 1975-90 civil war, has spiraled into a financial crunch since the eruption of protests against the ruling elite in October, leading to hard currency shortages that have impeded imports.The country has also been in a political crisis since Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister more than five weeks ago, prompted by protests against ruling politicians over corruption. Consensus emerged this week around businessman Samir Khatib as the new premier and he is expected to be designated on Monday unless Lebanon’s volatile politics brings surprises before then. A new government is seen as a crucial step for Lebanon to chart a way out of the crisis and appeal for the help of foreign governments waiting for the new administration to take shape. Hariri, running a caretaker government, issued his appeal to Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China, and Egypt, seeking help to finance imports of essential goods. A statement said this was part of his efforts to address the liquidity shortage and to ensure “the continuity of food security and raw materials for production”. Capital controls – which are being enforced by commercial banks but have not been formalized by the authorities – have led some importers to slash their orders as they have been unable to source dollars at the official rate or make transfers abroad. The central bank has rationed dollars for wheat, fuel, and medicine, but buyers of these must still source 15% of the dollars, raising costs because of a slump in the Lebanese pound. The pound firmed slightly on Friday, with dollars offered at 1,930 pounds compared to 1,980 on Thursday, but was still 28% weaker than the official rate of 1,507.5 pounds, dealers said. The crisis is rooted state waste and corruption overseen by leaders using government resources for their own gain. Lebanon is one of the world’s most heavily indebted states. Lebanon won international pledges of more than $11 billion in project financing last year on condition reforms are enacted. France aims to mobilize international support at the conference which a European official and a Lebanese official said would take place in Paris on Dec. 11. The meeting will gather representatives of the International Support Group which includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also expected to be invited, the Lebanese official said.
(Reporting by Tom Perry and Eric Knecht in Beirut and John Irish; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)

Lebanon caretaker PM Hariri sends aid appeal to ‘friendly’ states before meeting
Al Arabiya English, Reuters/Friday, 6 December 2019
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri has sent an aid appeal to “friendly” countries in a statement from his office on Friday. Hariri appealed for aid to secure food and raw materials for Lebanon in the statement, as the country suffers from an economic crisis including a shortage of dollars. Hariri said he was directing his appeal to Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China, and Egypt. The appeal comes ahead of a meeting of an international support group for Lebanon, due to meet in Paris on December 11, according to Reuters.According to a Lebanese official cited by Reuters, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were expected to be invited.

Titles For The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 06-07/2019
Lebanon’s Crisis Hits Syrian Refugees Hard/Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/December 06/2019
Lebanese demonstrators continue protesting political and economic situations/Joanne Serrieh, Al Arabiyah English/December 06/2019
Lebanon appeals for aid to pay for imports of essential goods/Jazeera//December 07, 2019
Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM/Najia Houssari/Arab News/December 07/2019
Saad Hariri requests aid to secure Lebanon’s food imports/Sunniva Rose/The National/December 06/2019
Analysis/Hezbollah Commandos Are Back on Israel’s Border, and They’re Armed With the Element of Surprise/Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/December 06/2019
Israeli military says Hezbollah undeterred despite recent setbacks/Associated Press/Ynetnews/December 06/2019

The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 06-07/2019
Lebanon’s Crisis Hits Syrian Refugees Hard
Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/December 06/2019
Sabah, a 45-year-old Syrian refugee who has been living in Lebanon since 2013 under dire economic conditions, laments her worsening financial situation after the eruption of anti-government protests on Oct. 17. Sabah has been supporting a family of four children by cleaning houses since her husband abandoned them. She couldn’t leave her house for 15 days after angry protesters took to Lebanon’s streets, and demand for her services declined sharply since then. She complained to Asharq AlAwsat that the landlord of her apartment in Beirut’s southern suburbs is now demanding the rent in dollars although she had been paying it in Lebanese pounds. “Knowing that it would increase the cost, I still tried to convert my pounds into dollars, but I was told that dollars are not readily available in the market.”Food inflation has perhaps had the biggest impact on Sabah and tens of thousands of other Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Sabah explains that she and her family needed $100 a week before Lebanon’s revolution, “but today, even $140 are not enough. The United Nations, which used to allocate about $27 per person a month, has not been sending us money under the pretext of bank closures”.
Like many others, the woman hopes to relocate through the UN refugee agency, but places are limited. This has pushed many others, convinced that they will not be granted refugee status, to plan their return to Syria. Adnan, 37, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he would return to Syria today if he weren’t owed money for construction work he had done. “The situation is distressing on all levels. It’s best to go back home despite the difficulty of the situation there.”Many Lebanese hold Syrian refugees responsible for the country’s deteriorating economic situation. “While there is a level of concern among displaced Syrians about the current situation in Lebanon, it is difficult at this stage to assess whether this will have a direct impact on the possible increase in the number of returnees to Syria,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abu Khaled. A number of disputes between Lebanese citizens and displaced Syrians have been registered near ATMs. Many Lebanese complain that the refugees receive money, albeit in small amounts, from the UNHCR while they are unemployed and in need of financial assistance. However, in the northeastern border town of Arsal, which hosts more Syrian refugees than any other Lebanese town, the displaced live in relative harmony with the locals even after Lebanon’s protest movement began, as confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat by the deputy head of Arsal municipality, Rima Karnbi. She said a committee has been formed to facilitate the return of a large group of refugees from Arsal to the Syrian town of Qusair.

Lebanese demonstrators continue protesting political and economic situations
Joanne Serrieh, Al Arabiyah English/December 06/2019
Lebanon witnessed more demonstrations Friday in several regions throughout the country protesting against the political situation and the worsening economic crisis that led a number of young men to commit suicide. Lebanese protesters have blocked Minieh highway in the northern part of the country near Tripoli, according to NNA. The army has been negotiating with the protesters to re-open it after the road closure caused major traffic delays for those heading to Tripoli and others going further north to Minieh and Akkar. Overnight, protesters, who call themselves “the revolutionary wing of Sidon rising up,” put locks and metal chains on the iron gate of the South Lebanon Water Foundation in the coastal city of Sidon, NNA reported. This was in response to the foundation shutting off water supplies to several buildings and houses in the city due to late payments of outstanding bills. Workers in the country have been dealing with pay cuts due to the economic crisis in the country. Many private companies have resorted to reducing staff or slashing their pay to deal with rising inflation and liquidity crunch. For example, Journalist Benjamin Redd announced on Wednesday that workers at the Lebanese news outlet, The Daily Star, “are owed up to a half a year’s salary.” Redd was fired from his job for trying to organize a strike, he said in a tweet. Other journalists at the outlet have resigned or are on strike. In the southern town of Nabatieh, protesters staged a sit-in in front of the vehicle registration department, for the second day in a row, demanding accountability of public money looters, NNA reported. They closed the main entrance of the department and only allowed employees to enter while preventing any citizens from entering. There was a presence of internal security forces following Thursday’s clashes between protesters and those who opposed the department closure and disruption of the interests of the citizens. Demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Lebanon since October and are fueled by deep resentment for a ruling class seen as mired in corruption, which drove the economy into crisis.

Lebanon appeals for aid to pay for imports of essential goods
Jazeera/December 07, 2019
Caretaker government issues appeal to Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China and Egypt.
Lebanon is appealing to friendly states on Friday to help it import essential goods as it grapples with an acute economic crisis, while official sources also said France would convene an international meeting next week to mobilise support for the country. Lebanon’s economic crisis, the worst since its 1975-90 civil war, has spiralled into a financial crunch since the eruption of protests against the ruling elite in October, leading to hard currency shortages that have impeded imports. The country has also been in a political crisis since Saad Hariri quit as prime minister more than five weeks ago, prompted by protests against ruling politicians over corruption. Consensus emerged this week around businessman Samir Khatib as the new premier, and he is expected to be designated on Monday unless Lebanon’s volatile politics brings surprises before then. A new government is seen as a crucial step for Lebanon to chart a way out of the crisis and appeal for the help of foreign governments waiting for the new administration to take shape. Hariri, running a caretaker government, issued his appeal to Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China and Egypt, seeking help to finance imports of essential goods. A statement said this was part of his efforts to address the liquidity shortage and to ensure “the continuity of food security and raw materials for production”. Capital controls – which are being enforced by commercial banks but have not been formalised by the authorities – have led some importers to slash their orders as they have been unable to source dollars at the official rate or make transfers abroad. The central bank has rationed dollars for wheat, fuel and medicine, but buyers of these must still source 15 percent of the dollars, raising costs because of a slump in the Lebanese pound. The pound firmed slightly on Friday, with US dollars offered at 1,930 pounds compared to 1,980 on Thursday, but the currency was still 28 percent weaker than the official rate of 1,507.5 pounds per dollar, dealers said. The crisis is rooted in state waste and corruption overseen by leaders using government resources for their own gain. Lebanon is one of the world’s most heavily indebted states. The country won international pledges of more than $11bn in project financing last year on the condition that reforms would be enacted. France aims to mobilise international support at its planned upcomiing conference, which a European official and a Lebanese official said would take place in Paris on December 11. The meeting will gather representatives of the international support group that includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also expected to be invited, the Lebanese official said.

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM
Najia Houssari/Arab News/December 07/2019
Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption
BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.
Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution. Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats. Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister. Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate. Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects. “The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.
HIGHLIGHT
Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution. On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors. His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.
On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida. In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army. In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”
Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.

Saad Hariri requests aid to secure Lebanon’s food imports
Sunniva Rose/The National/December 06/2019
Country is suffering from an acute shortage of dollars needed to bring in goods
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Saad Hariri has requested aid from friendly countries to help it secure imports of food and raw materials amid an acute dollar shortage.The appeal for aid was sent to Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States, China, and Egypt, the prime minister’s office said on Friday. Lebanon is grappling with the worst financial strains since its 1975-1990 civil war. World Bank officials said on Friday that they expected the recession in 2019 to be even more significant than an earlier projection of a 0.2 per cent contraction in the economy. The World Bank is among foreign donors who pledged billions of dollars of badly needed aid in Paris last year if Lebanon’s government enacted long-delayed reforms. But with foreign allies not fully convinced, the money has yet to flow into the economy. However, France has agreed to convene another meeting to mobilise international support for Lebanon on December 11. A Lebanese official told Reuters that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were expected to be invited. Importers say that banks started restricting their access to dollars, which are used interchangeably with the local currency, in the summer, severely impeding their ability to pay for purchases from abroad. Petrol station owners went on a two-day strike last week to demand that the Energy Ministry increase the price of fuel. In mid-November, private hospitals also went on strike for a day to warn of imminent shortages in medical supplies.
Certain imported products, such as cigarettes or cereal, have become scarce in local supermarkets. Banks started restricting cash withdrawals in early November, two weeks after anti-government protests started, spurred by the bad economy. Though the Association of Lebanese Banks announced a cap of $1,000 a week on November 17, this had dwindled to a few hundred dollars by early December, varying from bank to bank.
Under pressure from protesters, Mr Hariri resigned on October 29 and Lebanon has been without a government since. The small Mediterranean country is dependent on imports for local consumption. The value of imports in 2018 was $19.9 billion (Dh73bn), while exports totalled $2.9bn. Customs figures show that Lebanon’s biggest supplier of goods is China ($2bn), followed by Greece ($1.7bn), Italy ($1.6bn) and the United States ($1.4bn).

Analysis/Hezbollah Commandos Are Back on Israel’s Border, and They’re Armed With the Element of Surprise
عاموس هاريل/هآرتس: قوات الرضوان التابعة لحزب الله تعود إلى الحدود اللبنانية الإسرائيلية وبحوزتها عنصر مفاجأة
Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/December 06/2019
Israel believes Nasrallah is deterred since the 2006 war, but thinks Hezbollah and Iran are seeking to challenge it with a limited conflict
The main change that has taken place over the past year on the Israeli-Lebanese border involves Hezbollah’s new military preparedness. Following about five years in which most of Hezbollah’s efforts, and most of the people in its top units, were mired in the Syrian civil war, the fighters have returned home, to southern Lebanon.
Members of Hezbollah’s Radwan commando force have been released from the Assad regime’s battle for survival and have returned to their original positions in Lebanon, near the front line. Some of the units are deployed relatively close to the border with Israel, with a presence south of the Litani River as well, in violation of the terms of the cease-fire spelled out in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 at the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
At an observation post overlooking Lebanon from the Israeli side of the border, it’s possible to make out observation points facing in the other direction, which were established by Hezbollah more than two years ago on the pretext that they belonged to an environmental group. Some of Hezbollah’s activities along the border are carried out in civilian garb and without weapons being visible, in coordination with the Lebanese army. But Israeli intelligence has been gathering documented proof of the activity, as part of its regular wrangling with Lebanon over violations of UN resolutions.
n the Israeli army, it has been difficult to identify which of the activists are Radwan members and which belong to Hezbollah’s regional defense network, which has been deployed in the south over the years: Commando activists move around differently and are equipped differently from regional activists.
Hezbollah’s years of fighting in Syria alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Russian army officers have given the organization and its commanders critical experience in fields that were unfamiliar to them in the past. This experience, however, came coupled with heavy loses. (In Israel the estimate is that about 2,000 Hezbollah fighters were killed and more than 8,000 were wounded).
But the return to the south gives Hezbollah another advantage: The proximity of its top units to the border theoretically shortens the time it needs to carry out a surprise attack against Israel, in the nature of a move talked about it recent years – a surprise takeover of communities or Israeli army positions along the border.
The General Staff and Northern Command officers are aware of this risk and a number of changes have been made in the army’s defense and intelligence alignment to thwart the danger.
The tension along the border peaked in a series of events at the end of August, when three attacks that were attributed to Israel took place – against Iranian combatants and affiliated Shi’ite organizations in Iraq, near the Golan border in Syria and in Iraq. Israel took responsibility for only one of the attacks. Hezbollah responded with an anti-tank ambush near Moshav Avivim on September 1, when three missiles were fired at and missed an army ambulance.
After the attacks, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened a war on the Israeli UAVs, which were reportedly involved in all the strikes. At the end of October Hezbollah launched, for the first time in years, an anti-tank missile at an Israeli drone circling the south Lebanon sky. The missile missed.
Missile fire is part of the rival sides’ message exchange. Despite Nasrallah’s firm rhetoric, Israeli intelligence assumes he has no current interest in starting a war and is still being held back by the harsh lessons of the 2006 war. The problem is that not everything is up to him. The regular tension along the border fits in with the regional instability. The Iranian leadership and allies are under heavy pressure, due to the bloody riots in Iraq, the massive protest refusing to die down in Lebanon and the fuel protest in Iran itself, which was brutally quashed more than two weeks ago but could still reignite.
In these circumstances, and considering the increasing pace of the changes, it’s no wonder Military Intelligence has updated its evaluation and believes the risk of war has increased in the past year.
The IDF detects Iran and Hezbollah’s desire to challenge Israel with an isolated incident that isn’t meant to escalate into a large-scale war. But Israel believes every such incident increases the chance of a mistake being made. The fear of miscalculation pertains to misreading the rival’s “war threshold.” Hezbollah could initiate a provocation that, in its opinion, doesn’t justify opening up a war, but Israel may think differently and react forcefully, bringing the sides closer to war.
In the background another source of danger is simmering – Hezbollah’s “precision project.” Israel claims it has thus far thwarted most Iranian moves to improve the Hezbollah missiles’ precision. This was done by attacking arms smuggling convoys in Syria, together with public pressure that led to the evacuation of missile-production and precision-upgrade sites shortly after they were set up in Lebanon. But Iran hasn’t given up on this activity, so sooner or later a clash with Israel is expected over new production lines in Lebanon.
At the same time the effectiveness of the “campaign between the wars,” waged by the IDF and the Israeli intelligence community, comes into question. On the northern front a large part of this campaign was focused on preventing arms smuggling. However, Israel’s freedom to act in the north has been somewhat curtailed, because as the civil war in Syria dies down, there is more friction with the other states’ interests.
Russia is concerned over the risk of the Israeli attacks to its troops in Syria, Iran is trying to establish a new equation of retaliating against every Israeli strike, and the Syrian regime is determined to respond to every bombing or shelling in Syria’s territory, as reported in Haaretz last Friday.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett thinks the opposite is true. In his opinion Israel now has an opportunity to ramp up the attacks and strive forcefully to remove all Iranian military presence from Syria.

Israeli military says Hezbollah undeterred despite recent setbacks
Associated Press/Ynetnews/December 06/2019
IDF officials say neither the destruction of the terror group’s attack tunnels, nor the Lebanese faction’s recent domestic problems have undermined Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s preparations for a war with Israel
A year after uncovering a network of cross-border Hezbollah tunnels, the Israeli military says the Lebanese militant group has beefed up its presence along the volatile frontier. Military officials say that neither the destruction of the tunnels, nor Hezbollah’s recent domestic problems, have weakened the group’s desire to prepare for renewed conflict with Israel. “We have a very serious enemy,” said Col. Roy Levy, the military’s Northern Border Brigade commander, during a tour of the area Thursday. He said the group’s main focus is to entrench itself along the border area and “plan to attack us.”Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006 that ended in a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. While direct fighting has been rare since then, there has been occasional violence, most recently on September 1 when Hezbollah fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles into Israel and Israel responded with artillery fire.
Israel also has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes in neighboring Syria, many of them believed to have been aimed at Iranian weapons shipments bound for its Hezbollah proxy. Israel considers Hezbollah to be its most immediate threat, saying the group has amassed an arsenal of some 130,000 rockets and missiles capable of striking virtually anywhere in Israel. More recently, it has accused the group of trying to import or develop guided missiles. Last December, Israel announced that it had uncovered a network of tunnels that it said Hezbollah was building with the aim of infiltrating and carrying out attacks. Over several months, it systematically destroyed the structures. Hezbollah has not commented on the tunnels, though the U.N. peacekeeping force UNIFIL has said the group violated the 2006 cease-fire. In recent years, Israeli says Hezbollah has taken over houses in southern Lebanese border villages to hide soldiers, ammunition, cameras and intelligence-gathering equipment. Levy pointed across the tree-lined frontier to several small shacks that he said were Hezbollah positions, just a few hundred meters away from Israeli residents. “Civilians, farmers, children drive here every day,” he said.
In addition to the loss of its tunnels, Hezbollah has suffered other setbacks in recent months. Its patron Iran, suffering from U.S. sanctions, is being rocked by mass demonstrations in which over 200 people have reportedly been killed.
Lebanon has also experienced nationwide protests over the past two months against widespread corruption and mismanagement. Some of that anger has been directed toward Hezbollah, which is now seen as part of the ruling class that has wrecked the country’s economy. But Levy said he has seen no changes in the group’s behavior. “They have a lot of cameras, a lot of forces along the border, camouflaged,” he said.