'We are hungry': Lebanese protest worsening economic crisis
Come down, we are hungry, we are fed up!” yelled Ahmad Shuman, a protester frustrated at the small number of people taking part in demonstrations. Inflation and prices of basic goods have skyrocketed in the country, which imports more than 80% of its basic goods. Meanwhile, lawmakers approved $200 million in assistance from the central bank's shrinking foreign reserves to go to Lebanon's electricity company. The transfer is to cover fuel purchases for the next few weeks to prevent the country from plunging into darkness. AdThe crisis is posing the gravest threat to Lebanon’s stability since the 1975-90 civil war.
France and UN rally aid for Lebanon, urge political reforms
The plan also calls for “a targeted set of reforms, which are essential to facilitate recovery and reconstruction," he added. Macron, whose country once governed Lebanon as a protectorate, supported pushing ahead with an aid program despite frustration with the Lebanese ruling class. Representatives from 27 countries participated in Wednesday's meeting, including 12 heads of state and local Lebanese aid groups which have a central role as trusted partners, according to the French presidency. A new government would be the first step toward implementing a French roadmap for reforms to enable the release of billions of dollars of international aid. Aoun said Lebanon is negotiating a $246 million loan from the World Bank to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and Lebanon’s emergency needs.
Lebanon, Israel begin indirect talks over maritime border
U.N. peacekeeping military vehicles enter the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Lebanon and Israel are to begin Wednesday indirect talks over the disputed maritime border between the two countries in the presence of American officials who are mediating between the Middle Eastern nations. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)NAQOURA – Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks on Wednesday over their disputed maritime border, with American officials mediating the talks that both sides insist are purely technical and not a sign of any normalization of ties. The U.S.-mediated talks began at a U.N. post along the border known as Ras Naqoura, on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Naqoura. Israel and Lebanon also held indirect negotiations in the 1990s, when Arab states and Israel worked on peace agreements.
Lebanese nominated premier resigns, in blow to Macron plan
FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, file photo, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib speaks to journalists at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon. The announced by Adib deals a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to break a dangerous stalemate in the crisis-hit country. The announcement by Moustapha Adib nearly a month after he was appointed to the job further delays the prospect of getting the foreign economic assistance needed to rescue the country from collapse. The Lebanese pound dropped against the dollar following his resignation, trading at more than 8,100 Lebanese pounds on the black market Saturday. The Shiite groups have accused Hariri of directing Adib in his Cabinet formation efforts and said they refuse to be sidelined.
Lebanon asks world's help 'trying to rise from its rubble'
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2020, file photo, a soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanons president is calling for the international communitys support to rebuild the countrys main port and destroyed neighborhoods after last months catastrophic explosion that decimated the facility. Most urgently, the country needs the international community’s support to rebuild its economy and its destroyed port. Aroun said Lebanon had requested technical assistance from certain countries, particularly soil samples and satellite images from the moment of the explosion. Guterres made his remarks during a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings.
The Latest: Venezuela's Guaidó urges nations to decry Maduro
Member state flags fly outside the United Nations headquarters during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)TANZANIA – The Latest from the U.N. General Assembly (all times EDT):8:10 p.m. But U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó still put out his own online message during this year’s gathering of world leaders. Guaidó is recognized by nearly 60 nations as Venezuela’s president and has been in a nearly two-year standoff with Maduro. This week at the U.N. gathering of world leaders, African nations again have made it clear it’s time that changed.
Palestinian refugee agency warns of instability amid crisis
The Commissioner-General of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees Philippe Lazzarini, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the U.N. relief agency, UNRWA, headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The financial crisis that the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees is experiencing could lead to ceasing some of its activities in what would raise risks of instability in this volatile region, Lazzarini said Wednesday. UNRWA's financial crisis was sparked by the loss of all funding from the United States, its largest donor, in 2018. UNRWA has registered 6,876 confirmed cases among Palestinian refugees, most of them in the West Bank, where some 5,000 cases have been detected. “We have people being more and more in despair expecting UNRWA to deliver more services, at a time UNRWA is already experiencing financial crisis,” Lazzarini said.
France tries forcing change on Lebanon's politicians
FILE - In this Aug.6, 2020 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, and Lebanese President Michel Aoun, second right, meet at BeirutRafic Hariri International Airport, in Lebanon. In the wake of Beirut's massive port explosion, Macron has taken a tough line, setting deadlines for Lebanon's politicians to carry out reforms. “Regrettably maybe President Macron does not know whom he is dealing with.”Resistance to reform can be startling. But already, there appear to be delays in negotiating a new Cabinet, despite a Monday deadline that Macron said Lebanese politicians agreed on to form the government. “The only state that is not interfering in Lebanon’s affairs is the Lebanese state,” goes one joke making the rounds.
Diplomat tapped to be PM in crisis-hit Lebanon
BEIRUT A Lebanese diplomat was appointed to form a new government in crisis-hit Lebanon on Monday after winning the backing of major political parties. Lebanon's president is holding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to designate a new prime minister for the crisis-stricken country, with a career diplomat poised to win the job Monday. Macron and other world leaders as well as the International Monetary Fund have refused to give assistance to Lebanon before its leaders enact major reforms. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri emerged from his meeting with Aoun on Monday, telling reporters his 18-member bloc had given its backing to Adib. Adib, who has been Lebanons ambassador to Germany since 2013, served as an advisor to one of Lebanons former Prime Ministers, Najib Mikati.
Consultations to name new PM in Lebanon to begin on Monday
BEIRUT The office of Lebanons president said Friday that binding consultations with members of Parliament to designate a new prime minister will begin early next week. Mondays consultations will coincide with a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon, a former French protectorate. The blast, the most destructive single incident in Lebanons history, killed more than 180 people, wounded nearly 6,000 and left nearly 300,000 people homeless. President Michel Aouns office released a schedule of the consultations that will begin Monday morning and end in the afternoon. The fighting briefly closed the main highway linking Beirut with southern Lebanon.
Lebanese president calls probe into Beirut blast "complex"
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)BEIRUT Lebanese President Michel Aoun says the probe into a devastating blast in Beirut is very complex and wont be finished quickly. Responding to calls that he step down, Aoun told French TV station BFMTV in his first interview with foreign media since the Aug. 4 blast that it would be "impossible" because it would create a power vacuum. The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beiruts port remains unclear. We had the determination to reach conclusions quickly but we found out that the issues are very complex and require time, said Aoun. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has denied his group has any role in the explosion and said any international probe would likely seek to clear Israel of responsibility in the port explosion, if it had a hand.
FBI team arrives this weekend to take part in Beirut probe
FILE - In this August 5, 2020 file photo, smoke rises from the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)BEIRUT A team of FBI investigators is due to arrive in Lebanon this weekend to take part in the probe of Beirut's massive explosion, a senior U.S official said on Saturday after visiting the location of the blast. David Hale, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, called for a thorough and transparent investigation. Hassan Nasrallah said the cause of the explosion is still unclear, adding that any international probe would also have to clear Israel of any responsibility in the port explosion. On Friday, the United Nations launched a $565 million appeal for Lebanon with immediate humanitarian assistance and initial recovery efforts.
FM says Germany ready to help Lebanon but reforms necessary
Maas said that Lebanon needs a "strong reboot" and far-reaching economic reforms to rebuild trust with its citizens. Heiko Maas spoke ahead of his trip to Beirut, following last week's explosion at the city's port that killed at least 171 people and wounded thousands. (Dalati Nohra via AP)BEIRUT Germany stands ready to help Lebanon with reconstruction and further investment after last week's massive explosion, but any support will be linked to economic reforms and an end to pervasive corruption in Lebanon, Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday. Ahead of his arrival in Beirut, Maas said Lebanon needs a strong reboot and far-reaching economic reforms to rebuild trust with its citizens. I think everyone in Lebanon has to recognize that things cannot continue like this, this country needs big reforms, he said.
A week after blast, Beirut pauses to remember the dead
The wife of Rami Kaaki, one of ten firefighters who were killed during the last week's explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, mourns during her husband's funeral at the firefighter headquarters, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Thousands of people marched near the devastated port, remembering those who died in the worst single blast to hit the country. Outgoing Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the blast killed a total of 171 people, with between 30 and 40 still missing. Lebanese have demanded an independent Cabinet not backed by any of the political political parties they blame for the mess they are in. Many are also calling for an independent investigation into the port explosion, saying they had zero trust in a local probe.
Beirut explosion bares pitfalls of sending aid to Lebanon
Words are written by Lebanese citizens in front of the scene of Tuesday's explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)BEIRUT Hospitals and schools, then shattered and bent water pipes, then the crater that once was Lebanon's port. In the short-term, the aid streaming into Lebanon is purely for humanitarian emergencies and relatively easy to monitor. Lebanon's wheat stockpile, stored next to the warehouse filled with ammonium nitrate, was destroyed in the explosion. Julien Courson, head of the Lebanon Transparency Association, said the country's non-profits are forming a coalition to monitor how relief and aid money is spent.
Show of solidarity after blast as Lebanon braces for protest
The port area lies in devastation following this week's massive explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. The blast killed 154 people, wounded more than 5,000 and laid waste to the countrys largest port and nearby areas. Also expected in Lebanon Saturday was the president of the European Council, Charles Michel. At the site of the blast in Beiruts port, workers were still searching for dozens of people who have been missing since Tuesday. It made an unscheduled detour to Beirut as the Russian shipowner was struggling with debts and hoped to earn some extra cash in Lebanon.
The Latest: Protesters storm Lebanon's Foreign Ministry
A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. The protesters said Saturday the Foreign Ministry would be the headquarters for a revolution and called on the current government to resign. Rage against the government spiked after the Beirut port explosion Tuesday that killed nearly 160 people and injured 6,000 while leaving much of the coastline mangled. A Lebanese health ministry official said on Saturday that the blast killed 154 people, including 21 bodies who have not been identified. Oktay arrived earlier in the day with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Latest: French presidency says Macron arriving in Beirut
(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)BEIRUT The Latest on the explosion in Beirut (all times local):11 a.m.A French presidential official says French President Emmanuel Macron is arriving in Beirut following Tuesday's deadly port explosion and will be greeted by Lebanese President Michel Aoun. The official says Macron will go directly to the port and meet Lebanese and French teams in the disaster area. Later in the day, Macron will head to the presidential palace for meetings with top officials. The French official says Macrons trip is meant to show that Lebanon is not alone and to give the Lebanese people confidence. Macron has said his role is to show that he believes in the country.
Lebanon President gives no ground after week of angry protests
BEIRUT - Lebanon's President Michel Aoun made no concrete concessions in his first public address since nationwide protests erupted against the country's political elites a week ago, as his speech was met with jeers from demonstrators. Calls for the government's resignation have grown since protests engulfed Lebanon on October 17. Our regime will not be removed based on protests on the ground. The President is a close political ally of the Shia group Hezbollah, which has a powerful armed wing in the country. Aoun's son-in-law and the country's foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, has been one of the main targets of the protests.