A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For March 21-22/2020 Addressing All That is happing In the Iranian Occupied & Oppressed Lebanon

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For March 21-22/2020 Addressing All That is happing In the Iranian Occupied & Oppressed Lebanon
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
March 22/2020

Picture Enclosed: A Lebanese Martyr’s Mother praying at his grave. May Almighty God Bless The Souls Of Our Heroic Martyrs who happily and courageously offered themselves on Lebanon’s Altar to Safeguard the Holy Lebanon & Its people.

LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 21-22/2020
The old Hezbollah era of intimidation and threats is over/Entrapping US citizens in Lebanon is not acceptable/Dr.Walid Phasres/Face Book/March 21/2020
Lebanon’s Health Ministry: Coronavirus Cases Rise to 206
Haroun: Time Factor is Crucial to Fight Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Lebanon calls in army to enforce lockdown
Araji: Lebanese Not Abiding by Quarantine, State of Emergency Must Be Declared
Jumblat: Lebanon Could Lose Control over Coronavirus
Diab to the Lebanese: I call on you to impose a self-curfew as we are in great danger, our victory can solely be through “state, society & citizen” integration
Diab Says Army, Security Forces to Take Measures to Enforce Lockdown
Lebanon’s PM Diab orders security forces to enforce coronavirus curfew/Najia Houssari//Arab News/March 22/2020
Rahi calls for full compliance with official health instructions
Bassil: To tighten measures up to imposing curfew
Hariri appeals to the Lebanese to respect the confinement
MP Sami Gemayel: To prevent unnecessary mobility
Musharrafieh: It is solely through cooperation and solidarity that we can overcome this stage
First Lady on Mother’s Day: Let your children stay at home
Abdel Samad on Mother’s Day: Stay home for their sake!
COVID-19 cases rise to 206, Lebanon now in virus outbreak phase/Sandra Abdelbaki /Annahar/March 21/ 2020
Just when Lebanon thought it had suffered enough/Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News/March 22/2020
Iran/Hizballah forces relocate HQ from Damascus to Aleppo/DEBKAflle/Mar 21, 2020

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 20-21/2020
The old Hezbollah era of intimidation and threats is over/Entrapping US citizens in Lebanon is not acceptable
Dr.Walid Phasres/Face Book/March 21/2020
The political games Hezbollah and its allies are playing, their statements, the brouhaha his allies are creating, and the attempts to intimidate the majority of Lebanese, in the wake of the repatriation of US citizen Amer Fakoury, do not impress Lebanese Americans or the US Administration and Congress. This organization is listed on US terror lists, is under several batches of sanctions, and will have to answer justice for the many acts perpetrated against US and Lebanese citizens over the past 40 years.
Hezbollah’s wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, in Lebanon or with Israel, have no consequences on US laws and regulations, except being on terror list and being a suspect at the International Tribunal for the assassination of PM Hariri.
Hezbollah naming individuals as “agents.” “traitors,” or “enemies” doesn’t impress the US or the Lebanese Diaspora, or a majority of Arab countries. Any aggression against, mistreatment of or threat against US citizens, as we saw in Iraq this year will draw an appropriate US response.
The old Hezbollah era of intimidation and threats is over.
************
Glad to see, vis social media, that Lebanon’s civil society is acting with a very professional culture to mitigate the corona virus as much as possible, with the minimum capabilities. At least, the medical culture of many citizens has shown a high level education in the protection of the elderly and practice of social distancing. Some of the measures and statements I see via Facebook are of the levels we see in the US. It was unfortunate that militia reckless behavior at the Airport for weeks have caused breaches for the disease to spread. Happy to see brave citizens trying to save what can be saved after such irresponsible acts at the earlier stage.
*************
Entrapping US citizens in Lebanon is not acceptable
The United States extracted its own citizen from Lebanon, as it would do it for any other of its citizens and as it did for thousands of US citizens from all communities, including from south Lebanon and the Bekaa, during the 2006 war.
Hassan Nasrallah need to understand that Amer Fakhoury, in the eyes of the US Congress and the White House is an American citizen, regardless of Hezbollah’s endless wars and unending hatred for its fellow Lebanese. Amer Fakhoury entered the Lebanese Republic as a US citizens and that’s how he was repatriated six months later. If the Lebanese Government didn’t want him to enter Lebanon with his US passport at the International Airport, they could have refused entry, period. Once admitted, all protections are applicable.
The United States will not accept that terror organizations or institutions collaborating with terror organizations, would entrap its citizens and “prosecute them” for wars that have ended twenty years ago, (and against the stipulations of Lebanese and international law,) when they were Lebanese citizens.
The Beirut airport should not be used to settle old ideological and political scores.

Lebanon’s Health Ministry: Coronavirus Cases Rise to 206
Naharnet/March 21/2020
The Health Ministry said in its daily report on Saturday that 24 new people have contracted the new COVID-19 virus raising the number of total infected to 206. “From February 21 till March 21, 2020, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases has reached 206, including those diagnosed at private hospitals and at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital and those reported by other university hospitals accredited by the Ministry,” said the report. The Ministry said it continues to run tests on samples taken from people suspected to have contracted the virus, while identifying and monitoring their contacts, and carefully watching all arrivals from countries experiencing a spread of the virus.

Haroun: Time Factor is Crucial to Fight Coronavirus
Naharnet/March 21/2020
Head of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals in Lebanon Sleiman Haroun said the time factor is very important in fighting the spread of coronavirus as he urged Lebanese citizens to stay at home. “Private hospitals receive no support from the state, we are working with our own resources,” said Haroun in remarks to LBCI. “Because of their engineering, only large hospitals are able to receive patients infected with coronavirus. At the present time 15 of the large hospitals have completed the preparations,” to begin receiving patients infected with the virus, “the time factor is very important.”Haroun voiced calls on citizens to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Lebanon has so far confirmed 163 COVID-19 coronavirus cases among them four deaths. The state’s Rafik Hariri University hospital was the only hospital receiving coronavirus cases.
On Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions.
Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out. President Michel Aoun and the army on Friday called on citizens and residents to respect the lockdown and stay home.

Coronavirus: Lebanon calls in army to enforce lockdown

AP/The National/March 21/2020
Lebanon on Saturday called in the army to ensure people stay at home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed four people in the country. In a televised address, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the number of cases had risen to 230 in the country despite a call almost a week ago for all to remain at home. Warning of a further spike to epidemic levels if people continued to flout social-distancing rules, he said the government was calling in the army and security forces. His administration had decided to “task the army, Internal Security, General Security and State Security to… implement the order for citizens not to leave their homes, except out of extreme necessity, and prevent gatherings contravening” the order, Mr Diab said. This would take the form of patrols and road blocks, and those found disobeying would be pursued. Mr Diab again called on all Lebanese to observe a curfew, “as the state cannot face this creeping epidemic on its own”. Last Sunday, the government ordered all people to stay at home and all non-essential businesses to close. The airport has been shut since Wednesday. The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest crisis to hit the country, already reeling from a financial meltdown and months of widespread public discontent. Officials fear the local health system would struggle to cope if cases dramatically increase. Earlier on Saturday, police patrolled several areas of the capital Beirut, using loudspeakers to call bystanders to go home. On the seafront, they pursued and flagged down joggers, pleading with them to head back indoors. An estimated 900 million people are now confined to their homes in 35 countries around the world — two thirds by government lockdown orders, according to an AFP tally.

Araji: Lebanese Not Abiding by Quarantine, State of Emergency Must Be Declared
NaharnetNaharnet/March 21/2020
MP Assem Araji of the Parliamentary Health Committee called on the government on Saturday to declare a state of emergency over coronavirus because the “Lebanese are not abiding by the terms of home quarantine.” Araji voiced his calls in a contact with LBCI TV station after the health ministry declared a rise in the number of people infected with the virus. The Health Ministry said in its Saturday report that 24 new cases of coronavirus were registered raising the number to 187. On Friday, heavy traffic and pedestrian movement was witnessed in some impoverished areas of the northern city of Tripoli despite the government’s lockdown order over the coronavirus crisis. The agency said the majority of people on the streets were not wearing masks or gloves. On Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions. Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out.

Jumblat: Lebanon Could Lose Control over Coronavirus
Naharnet/March 21/2020
Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat on Saturday said Lebanon “could lose control” over the spread of COVID-19 virus if a state of emergency is not declared in light of a “quick” rise in the number of cases. “According to information the virus is spreading quickly recording 24 new cases today as the result of people not staying at home as demanded,” said Jumblat in a tweet. “A state of emergency must be declared as other countries are doing. People must be banned from going out at any price otherwise we could lose control,” added Jumblat. The Health Ministry said in its Saturday report that 24 new cases of coronavirus were registered. On Friday, heavy traffic and pedestrian movement was witnessed in some impoverished areas of the northern city of Tripoli despite the government’s lockdown order over the coronavirus crisis. The agency said the majority of people on the streets were not wearing masks or gloves. On Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions.
Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out.

Diab to the Lebanese: I call on you to impose a self-curfew as we are in great danger, our victory can solely be through “state, society & citizen” integration
NNA /March 21/2020
Addressing the Lebanese citizens this evening, in wake of the rapid pace in which the novel Corona COVID-19 virus is spreading, Prime Minister Hassan Diab urged all citizens to impose a “self-curfew” due to the great risk the country is facing as it enters the outbreak phase of the disease.
“The increase of infected cases recorded in the last two days, namely since yesterday, is accompanied by imminent danger threatening our society as a result of this increase, which will usher us into the epidemic phase, as the Ministry of Public Health recorded 67 new cases, thus raising the number of cases to 230, or an increase of 29% at once,” the Prime Minister said.
He indicated that citizens’ lack of compliance with the adopted measures, and their lack of acknowledgment of the risks at hand, has led the government “to confirm the adoption of stricter measures to the Command of the Army, the General Directorate of Internal Security, the General Directorate of General Security, the General Directorate of State Security, and all municipalities and unions of municipalities.”
“Additional measures will be taken in all regions in the scope of citizens’ obligation to remain home, to refrain from leaving their homes except for matters of extreme necessity, as well as banning all kinds of gatherings in public and private spaces alike, and prosecuting any offenders before judiciary authorities,” Diab underscored.
“Today, I am calling upon you to implement an individual restriction to circulation, as the government is unable to face the sprawl of this epidemic alone. This responsibility is an individual, collective, and official responsibility all at once,” Diab reiterated to citizens.
In his detailed speech, PM Diab said:
“Fellow Lebanese,
A month ago, Coronavirus arrived in Lebanon, and the Lebanese Government had taken preventive measures in advance to fight the spread of the virus in Lebanon.
During an entire month, the government’s measures gradually progressed in correspondence with the developments relating to the spread of the disease in the world, as well as in Lebanon.
These measures were successful in decelerating the spread of this virus within our communities.
Six days ago, the Government declared the state of public conscription, adopting strict measures on all levels, of which closing down the airport, seaports, and land borders, in addition to closing down all gathering points.
Nevertheless, compliance with the gathering ban was unfortunately limited and varied between different regions and sectors.
Over the course of the last six days, the number of infected cases increased, as expected, while the rate gradually rose. However, the increase of infected cases recorded in the last two days, namely since yesterday is accompanied by imminent danger threatening our society as a result of this increase which will usher us into the epidemic phase, as the Ministry of Public Health recorded 67 new cases, thus raising the number of cases to 230, or an increase of 29% at once.
The citizens’ lack of compliance with the adopted measures, which was illustrated in many a region, and confirmed through images circulating on social media platforms, thus indicating a lack of acknowledgment of the risks, has thus led us to confirm the adoption of stricter measures to the Command of the Army, the General Directorate of Internal Security, the General Directorate of General Security, the General Directorate of State Security, and all municipalities and unions of municipalities. Additional measures will be taken in all regions in the scope of citizens’ obligation to remain home, to refrain from leaving their homes except for matters of extreme necessity, as well as banning all kinds of gatherings in public and private spaces alike, and prosecuting any offenders before judiciary authorities.
The Ministry of Interior, the Army Command, and all security services will announce the mandatory enforcement plans to protect the health and lives of the Lebanese people. These plans include implementing security patrols and checkpoints on side-roads, main roads, and international roads, as well as imposing compliance with the adopted measures.
My fellow Lebanese,
Coronavirus is waiting on every house’s doorstep, and dealing with this danger should be undertaken with the highest level of awareness and in a conduct that protects our parents and children alike.
My fellow Lebanese,
Today, I am calling upon you to implement an individual restriction to circulation, as the government is unable to face the sprawl of this epidemic alone. This responsibility is an individual, collective, and official responsibility all at once.
My fellow Lebanese,
We are in grave danger, and know that our victory over this danger may only be achieved in the complementarily and collaboration of the efforts between the government, society, and citizens.
Therefore, and after consulting His Excellency the President of the Republic, I have issued the following decision, comprising:
1- Mandating the military and security authorities, and setting forth an additional immediate strategy to enforce the decision of citizens’ home confinement with the possibility to exit their homes in cases of extreme necessity only.
2-Increasing surveillance on all things relating to manufacturing, importing, storing, exporting, and distributing items and equipment relative to personal, health, and preventive care and treatment against Corona, as well as preparing a complete itinerary of the available items.
3- Identifying the needs of healthcare institutions whether public or private, and the needs of citizens in material, equipment, and items relative to the prevention and treatment of Corona, as well as regulating the prices thereof.
Mothers of Lebanon… If joy is missing on your day of celebration, know that the celebration is in protecting the family, and protecting the health of mothers, grandparents, parents, and children.
My fellow Lebanese,
We are facing very difficult and trying times, so let us cut our losses.
God Almighty says: “And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”.
Let us be patient!”
{PM Hassan Diab’s Press Office}

Diab Says Army, Security Forces to Take Measures to Enforce Lockdown
Naharnet/March 21/2020
Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Sunday called on the Army Command and the rest of security forces to take strict measures to ensure citizens are staying in their homes unless it is extremely necessary, following major breaches of the government’s “general mobilization” order over the past days. “The plans include staging patrols and erecting checkpoints on roads to enforce commitment to the taken measures,” Diab said in an address to the nation dedicated to the coronavirus crisis.
“The Army Command and the security forces will announce the needed steps,” he added.
Warning that “coronavirus is waiting at doorsteps,” the premier said dealing with the threat “must be at the level that protects our people.”
“We are in great danger and triumphing over coronavirus can only happen through cooperation between the state, the society and the citizen,” Diab urged. Cautioning that the Health Ministry recorded 67 coronavirus cases over the past two days, the prime minister warned that violators of the lockdown and general mobilization measures will be prosecuted by the relevant judicial authorities. “I call on the Lebanese to observe a self-imposed curfew,” he urged. The Health Ministry said in its daily report on Saturday that 24 more people have contracted the virus, raising the country’s tally to 206. “From February 21 till March 21, 2020, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases has reached 206, including those diagnosed at private hospitals and at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital,” said the report. The Ministry said RHUH continues to run tests on samples taken from people suspected to have contracted the virus, while identifying and monitoring their contacts and carefully watching all arrivals from countries experiencing a spread of the virus.
Last Sunday, the government declared a two-week state of “general mobilization,” closing the country’s air, land and sea ports of entry and ordering the closure of all non-essential public and private institutions.
Citizens and residents were meanwhile asked to stay home unless it is extremely necessary to go out, but major breaches of the instructions were recorded over the past few days, especially in Tripoli, Beirut’s Tariq al-Jedideh area and Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Lebanon’s PM Diab orders security forces to enforce coronavirus curfew
Najia Houssari//Arab News/March 22/2020
BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab asked the security forces on Saturday to enforce stricter measures to keep people indoors and prevent gatherings to curb a coronavirus outbreak. In a speech, Diab said this would include patrols and checkpoints, calling on the Lebanese to stay home and only go out if “absolutely necessary.”  Lebanese officials called for tougher emergency measures, including curfews, after the number of coronavirus cases in the country surged to 230 on Saturday, with four victims believed to be in a critical condition.
The Ministry of Health urged people to “adhere to complete domestic quarantine,” and warned that those who ignore repeated government warnings could face criminal prosecution.
Dr. Assem Araji, head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, demanded that emergency measures be stepped up “because people have not adhered to the domestic quarantine.” As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Lebanon continued to climb, it was revealed that a former minister, Mohammed Safadi, had also contracted the virus. “The result of the laboratory examination is positive. He is now in good health and will soon join the list of those recovering from COVID-19,” said his wife, former minister Violet Safadi.
Meanwhile, local police issued warnings to people breaching home quarantine and raids were carried out on businesses ignoring the ruling. Penalties were imposed on shop owners defying the government measures.
Municipalities used loudspeakers to warn residents against renting out homes to Lebanese or Syrian families from outside towns and villages “for fear of spreading the virus and to maintain health security.” Syrian residents were also told to refuse visits by relatives or acquaintances.
The warning reached the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which closed their entry and exit points. “We are worried about the lack of medical facilities to treat the disease,” an official at Ain Al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon, told Arab News.
Medical and health teams with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, together with Palestinian security forces, began checking people entering or leaving the camp, and disinfecting vehicles and other machinery. About 4,000 Lebanese Red Cross volunteers are helping to transport those infected with the virus to hospital.
George Kettana, director-general of the Lebanese Red Cross, said: “We receive many calls from all regions and we respond to every possible case.” Kettana called on people to “be honest and frank so that we do not expose volunteers to danger.”
Some supplies, including protective clothing, had started to run out and international aid organizations are ready to help, he said.
President of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals, Suleiman Haroun, warned that “trying to reduce the number of daily cases is important because it is a race against time. “If the number of daily cases reaches hundreds, we will not be able to receive all cases. Hospitals capacity is limited and hospitals were not initially prepared to face such a pandemic,” he said. Former prime minister Saad Hariri said: “The pandemic is a treacherous enemy. Please stay in your homes. The quarantine is the only safety line.”
Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, said: “The disease is spreading rapidly because people refuse to stay in their homes.”
“People should be forbidden at any cost from wandering around,” he said.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian called for a “general amnesty for prisoners, so that we will not face a tragedy in light of the outbreak of the coronavirus, despite all the precautionary measures.”

Rahi calls for full compliance with official health instructions
NNA/March 21/ 2020
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, stressed Saturday on the need for full compliance with the official health instructions, in an issued circular marking the “Holy Week”.
“Based on the recent developments of the spread of the Coronavirus, and the new instructions issued by the local governments to prevent this epidemic, we pray that God will have mercy on us and guide everyone to rationality and good behavior, and strengthen all health cadres in providing their services, and heal all infected people in the world,” the Patriarch said. “We continue our prayers, fasting, and acts of repentance to God, so we would have His mercy on us and all of humanity, heal those afflicted by the emerging Corona virus diseease, protect the survivors, and inspire researchers and doctors to find an effective medicine to eliminate this epidemic and put an end to it,” al-Rahi said in his raised prayers to the Lord Almighty. “Let this cruel blow be a call that leads to the birth of a new individual and a new world, in alignment with the Lord’s heart…With my love, my prayers, and my apostolic blessings…Christ has Risen!”

Bassil: To tighten measures up to imposing curfew
NNA/March 21/ 2020
Free Patriotic Movement Chief, MP Gebran Bassil, issued a statement on Saturday, indicating that “medical statistics and available data confirm that Lebanon is entering at a predictable rapid pace into the dangerous upward phase of the Corona epidemic outbreak, which necessitates taking exceptional and deterrent measures to limit the speed of the growing risk.”“Therefore, we call on the government and its concerned bodies, especially the security forces, to seriously consider tightening procedures and isolating some areas, up to imposing curfew except in cases that are allowed by permits, and issuing fines against those violating instructions and endangering themselves and others, pursuant to Article 604 of the Penal Code,” Bassil said. He appealed to all citizens “to stay in their homes”, urging supporters, affiliates and friends of the Free Patriotic Movement “to fully adhere to home quarantine, except for those who undertake volunteer missions in the Corona Prevention Response Team.” “We call upon all to deal responsibly and not to slide into any sectarian or regional language regarding the subject of the spread of Corona. We are all in one nation, and there is no safety for one more than the other except through our mutual solidarity to protect each other,” Bassil corroborated. He also called on the Lebanese Central Bank, and all banks, to accord absolute priority to opening the necessary credits for medical imports, and urged the Health Ministry to facilitate their quick entry and distribution where needed.
“Lebanon, as other countries, will pass through a critical health phase that we can overcome if we show individual and collective awareness and prove, as usual, that we are a people who do not fear difficulties; yet this time by not challenging but preventing them…Let us prove once again the ability of the Lebanese to bear and adapt to any circumstances, even if through home quarantine this time,” Bassil concluded.

Hariri appeals to the Lebanese to respect the confinement

NNA/March 21/ 2020
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri appealed to all citizens, “to the fathers, mothers and young men and women all over Lebanon, to stay at home and deal with home confinement as the only safety line and the necessary medicine.” He said on Twitter: “The coronavirus epidemic is a treacherous enemy that infiltrates families through mixing with others and not abiding by health guidelines. I appeal to you to remain home and deal with home confinement as the only safety line and the necessary medicine.
Hariri: “Medical examinations reveal a new wave of casualties every day. This means that the epidemic danger is expanding from one region to the other, and this requires strict measures that end the recklessness of many and put an end to the non-respect of the general mobilization decision.”
He continued: “Responsibility is shared between the country’s official authorities concerned with determining the scientific steps to confront the epidemic, and the citizens who are required to protect themselves and stop endangering the safety of others.”Hariri concluded: “The occasion calls on us to unite all efforts and support the medical teams responsible for the safety of people, primarily the medical and nursing teams at the Rafic Hariri Hospital and the Lebanese Red Cross teams deployed all over the Lebanese territory.” {Former PM Hariri’s Press Office}

MP Sami Gemayel: To prevent unnecessary mobility
NNA/March 21/ 2020
MP Sami Gemayel tweeted Saturday on the developments of the Corona virus, saying: “With the daily number of infected cases increasing and after receiving a call that sounded the alarm signal from the Lebanese Red Cross President, Dr. Antoine al-Zoghbi, we reiterate our demand for strictness in preventing unnecessary wandering, and we urge those concerned to adopt the proposals we made to avoid the worst.”

Musharrafieh: It is solely through cooperation and solidarity that we can overcome this stage
NNA/March 21/ 2020
Minister of Social Affairs and Tourism, Ramzi Musharafieh, tweeted Saturday saying: “Until the announcement of the comprehensive plan that the Ministries of Social Affairs and Tourism are preparing with the various ministries within the government, the legislative body, and the concerned authorities locally and internationally, to help citizens affected economically and financially by the catastrophe that befell our homeland, I urge public institutions (such as the National Social Security Fund, EDL, the Water and Phone Companies, Traffic Management Authority, municipalities, credit companies, employers, property owners, banks, etc…) to bear part of the loss with citizens, workers and tenants….It is only through cooperation and solidarity that we can cross this stage!”

First Lady on Mother’s Day: Let your children stay at home

NNA/March 21/ 2020
“Ask your children, regardless of their age, to stay at home, so that they help reduce the risk [of the spread of the Coronavirus] and keep it away from your families and loved ones,”” First Lady Nadia Chami Aoun, called on the Lebanese Mothers, via Twitter, on the occasion of Mother’s Day. She added: “With our solidarity and commitment, we can limit losses and help overcome Corona.”

Abdel Samad on Mother’s Day: Stay home for their sake!
NNA/March 21/ 2020
“On Mother’s Day, I greet all the mothers of Lebanon. They are life, the first nurses, the source of strength and doctors for the life of any child,” Dr. Manal Abdel Samad Najd said via her Twitter account.
She added: “Because health is not a joke, stay at home for your mother and for everyone’s sake.

COVID-19 cases rise to 206, Lebanon now in virus outbreak phase
Sandra Abdelbaki /Annahar/March 21/ 2020
BEIRUT: Lebanon stepped into the COVID-19 outbreak phase after the total number of coronavirus cases reached 206 on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Public Health. “In addition to the previous report and after receiving the laboratory results of the new private hospitals that have recently joined the list of accredited university hospital laboratories and whose results were not previously sent when the statement was issued, the final total number of cases confirmed as of 21/03/2020 is 206 cases,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Health read.
The ministry stressed on the importance of abiding by the preventive measures and in-home quarantine, which has become an individual and societal moral responsibility.
In accordance with the fast outbreak of the virus, Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the nation on Saturday night to further discuss the latest coronavirus updates.Failure to adhere to the measures indicates lack of awareness of the risks’ magnitude, which leads us to call on the army and security forces to strictly take the necessary measures to keep the Lebanese at home,” Diab stated in his address.
Diab also asked the Lebanese to implement “self-curfew” and take responsibility for their actions because the government can’t face this virus alone.Diab concluded his address with issuing the following decisions:
1-Assigning the army command, the General Directorate of Internal Security Forces, the General Directorate of General Security and the General Directorate of State Security responsible on making sure individuals abide by in-home quarantine and to prevent gatherings of all kinds.
2- Implementing stricter surveillance on manufacturing, importing, storing, exporting and distributing all materials, equipment and devices concerned with personal health protection, prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.
3-Determining the needs of public and private health institutions, and the needs of the Lebanese from equipment and devices concerned with the prevention and treatment of Coronavirus, in addition to controlling their prices.

Just when Lebanon thought it had suffered enough …
Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News/March 22/2020
Lebanon, with its $90 billion dollars in debt equivalent to about 170 per cent of its gross domestic product, has defaulted on a $1.2 billion eurobond. Its dollar bonds are now trading at 16 cents on the dollar and its credit rating is now in junk territory.
Negotiations with creditors to restructure the debt will probably not have any resolution for at least nine months, and probably longer considering the oil price plunge and the current havoc in the financial markets. The country’s options are severely limited.
The repercussions, of course, are massive as Lebanon faces pressure from all sides in an increasingly bleak global economic reality, with little in the way of foreign exchange reserves, and an import-dependent economy. Any planned reforms that Lebanon announced so far will now have to be paused until at least $90 billion is restructured to give Beirut room to breathe. That is no easy feat, given the global economic picture and Lebanon’s fragile political state.
As the limited options become clearer and desperation sets in, Lebanon has very few paths it can explore. One of the most important is of course seeking the help of the International Monetary Fund; the second is an aggressive campaign to slash government spending, raise taxes and seek aid from other countries willing to spare some cash in this very tight global financial environment and the enormous strains on governments everywhere in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final option is to take the risky route of Argentina and lock any bondholders’ funds in the country.
The problem with the first option is that some powerful political forces inside Lebanon, namely Hezbollah, are resisting the idea of seeking help from the IMF. However, even if that option were open, the IMF would need a credible economic plan that will demand some serious sacrifices, as in the case of Greece’s debt crises, and which in the already fragile Lebanese context could trigger even more political and social upheaval in a very unstable region and with a weak international order.
The second option has been termed “Beg, steal and borrow” — to beg for help from the outside, for example the Gulf states, which are now in no position to be as generous as before, given the collapse in the oil markets, their own high fiscal debts and obligations, and their need to allocate substantial funds to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic on their own economies.
The real issue here is the Lebanese people, who are already suffering and were forced to come out on to the streets over the past few months demanding change in an unprecedented anti-establishment revolution that brought in a new government — only to find itself in this total mess.
Credit rating agency Fitch has said the Lebanese government may even raid the deposits and savings held in the country’s banks, as Cyprus did at the height of its crisis, though the government is saying that won’t happen. That means, in effect stealing and canalizing its people’s savings.
To follow the example of Argentina and try to force a settlement on its bondholders, the government would risk dragging the country into an endless legal battle for years, and being locked out of the international debt market, as happened with Argentina.
This bleak picture extends, of course, to some major investment houses outside Lebanon. The Financial Times reported that London-based Ashmore held 25 percent of Lebanon’s bonds. Financial analysts expect that long and hard negotiations between Lebanon and creditors may result in the best of circumstances being 30 to 35 cents on the dollar.
Beyond all these numbers and fancy speculations, the real issue here is the Lebanese people, who are already suffering and were forced to come out on to the streets over the past few months demanding change in an unprecedented anti-establishment revolution that brought in a new government — only to find itself in this total mess. Citizens are already facing severe restrictions on their bank accounts, with tough limits on withdraws and transfers; now they are also facing the real possibility that some of their account balances will be frozen and raided by their government in a desperate move to pay its bills.
This economic crisis is one the worst Lebanon has faced since its independence in 1943. The economy has lost more than 200,000 jobs since last October, its worst drop since the civil war. Importers of critical products such as food and medicines are having a tough time finding hard currency, and many have shut down. Other businesses have also been forced to reduce or stop their activities since banks are no longer willing to cash checks, make transfers and allow large withdrawals. Many consumer venues have now also been ordered to shut down because of the pandemic.
Shops, companies, food and medical importers, hotels, services are all being forced to shut down because of lack of hard currency in a country that depends heavily on imports and is dependent on a global supply chain. On top of all that, the COVID-19 pandemic has just added salt to Lebanon’s wounds. It is a “perfect storm” that has hit the country from all sides.
The only way out, painful as it will be, is for Lebanon to seek help from the IMF and accept its stringent requirements — and for the Lebanese people, who have sacrificed so much in their history, to sadly accept pain and even more sacrifices again.
*Hafed Al-Ghwell is a non-resident senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Institute at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is also senior adviser at the international economic consultancy Maxwell Stamp and at the geopolitical risk advisory firm Oxford Analytica, a member of the Strategic Advisory Solutions International Group in Washington DC and a former adviser to the board of the World Bank Group. Twitter: @HafedAlGhwell

القوات الإيرانية وحزب الله نقلوا مقرهم الرئيس من دمشق إلى حلب
موقع دبيكا/21 آذار/2020
Iran/Hizballah forces relocate HQ from Damascus to Aleppo
DEBKAflle/Mar 21, 2020
http://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/84384/%d9%85%d9%88%d9%82%d8%b9-%d8%af%d8%a8%d9%8a%d9%83%d8%a7-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%82%d9%88%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a5%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%88%d8%ad%d8%b2%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%84%d9%87/

القوات الإيرانية وحزب الله نقلوا مقرهم الرئيس من دمشق إلى حلب
موقع دبيكا/21 آذار/2020
في تقرير نشره موقع دبيكا اليوم أُفيد بأن الحرس الثوري الإيراني وحزب الله قد نقلوا مؤخراً مقرهم الرئيس من دمشق إلى محافظة حلب الشمالية وذلك حسبما كشفت مصادر عسكرية واستخباراتية للموقع. المقر الرئيسي في دمشق أفرغ ونقلت كل محتوياته إلى المقر الجديد الكائن في مدينة حلب.
المقر هذا هو أكاديمية الأسد العسكرية الكبيرة حيث بالإمكان استيعاب 7000 رجل مسلح.
المقر الجديد محمي بالمدفعية الإيرانية المضادة للطائرات وقد أوكل الإيراني أمر حراسة الأكاديمية لمليشيا لحزب الله.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah recently relocated their Syrian HQ from Damascus to the northern province of Aleppo, DEBKAflle’s military and intelligence sources reveal.They emptied out the “Glass Hours” center near Damascus and established a new command center at the Al-Assad Military Academy some 7km southwest of Aleppo center. This compound can accommodate 2,000 or so armed men.
The Guards’ Al Qods Brigade has transformed the compound into an Iranian enclave in every sense. It is secured with Iranian mobile Bavar-373 anti-air batteries which have an operational range of 200km. Hizballah forces are entrusted with the task of securing the new headquarters and its approach routes.
Our sources stress that an Iranian military redeployment on this scale could not have taken place with the Russian nod. They also reveal that the purpose of the unannounced visit to Syria last week by the new IRGC commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani was to oversee the move. Although this was his first trip to Syria since the assassination of his predecessor Qassem Soleimani, Ghaani was not received in Damascus or by any Syrian dignitary. His sole destination was Aleppo, clearly to supervise the installation of the important new command center whose facilities are to operate under his authority.
Hizballah’s key role in the transfer is an integral component of the Lebanese Shiite organization’s boosted redeployment in Syria and Lebanon, Damascus has handed over full control of a 20-km deep area along its western border with Lebanon to Hizballah forces, excepting only the Allawi regions of the north.
And in the east, iran and Hizballah won another major asset for strengthening their grip on Syria from the evacuation this week of US forces from their Al Qaim base in western Iraq near the crossing into Syria. US CENTCOM has decided to abandon its small bases in the country and gather in all its troops at the larger facilities for protection against pro-Iranian militia rocket attacks. With the US presence gone from Al Qaim, the crossing lays open for Iran to push a fresh surge of Iraqi Shiite militias into Syria undisturbed.
In a cruelly ironic sidebar to the new, unopposed ramping up of the Iranian and pro-Iranian military presence into Syria, Damascus this week banned the entry of “foreigners arriving from many countries hit by coronavirus.” Iran and its soaring pandemic clearly do not count as such. The Assad regime denies any confirmed infections in the country at all, while nonetheless widening measures to combat its spread by closing schools, parks, restaurants and public institutions. Hospitals and medical facilities in the embattled province of Idlib meanwhile cry out for help to cope with millions of distressed people, including many refugees.