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Lebanon faces ‘total darkness,’ US sanctions, two-day Eid lockdown: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, May 12

Lebanon faces ‘total darkness,’ US sanctions, two-day Eid lockdown: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Protesters gathered in Beirut and Palestinian refugee camps across Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday in solidarity with Palestinians facing displacement from their homes in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. (Credit: João Sousa/L’Orient Today)

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Lebanon is facing “total darkness,” the head of Parliament’s energy committee, Nazih Najem, said after the Turkish company Karadeniz announced it will stop operating its power barges amid outstanding payments and a legal dispute. The stoppage will mean the reduction of another 400 megawatts in Lebanon’s power supply — about a fifth of the country’s total supply. Lebanon was already set to experience longer power cuts after the state utility, Électricité du Liban, said it will reduce its output by 200 MW starting this weekend due to Parliament’s suspension of a $200 million advance meant for fuel purchases. However, a Karadeniz spokesperson told Reuters that the firm would keep supplying power on the condition that Lebanon settles its dues to the company and overturns a financial prosecutor’s decision to seize its barges. Public Financial Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim issued an order last week to seize the barges and prevent them from leaving amid an investigation into corruption allegations connected to a power supply contract.

The United States Treasury has imposed sanctions on seven Lebanese individuals with ties to Hezbollah and its microfinance agency, Al-Qard al-Hassan. The Treasury Department alleged that six of the seven used Jammal Trust Bank, which the US previously sanctioned, to transfer half a billion dollars over the past decade. Ibrahim Daher, the seventh person, is one of Hezbollah’s chief financial executives. The measures appear to be the latest attempt by the US to pressure Lebanon to weaken the role Hezbollah — which it has designated a terrorist group — plays in the government.

Some 200 protesters marched from Beirut’s Mar Elias Palestinian refugee camp to the nearby Shatila camp in solidarity with Palestinians facing expulsion from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Solidarity protests were held on both Monday and Tuesday in several Palestinian camps around Lebanon, including Ain al-Hilweh in Saida, Nahr al-Bared in the north and camps in the Sur area, as well as in downtown Beirut. President Michel Aoun called on the international community to intervene in Palestine and “prevent Israel from continuing its aggressions,” adding that “there is no peace without justice, and no justice without respecting rights.”

Judge Ali Ibrahim ordered the owners of containers full of hazardous materials that were removed from the Beirut port by the German company Combilift to compensate the Lebanese state within a week for the $2 million it paid for their removal, a judicial source told L'Orient Today. Combilift finished ensuring 59 containers with dangerous substances could safely be transported from the port at the end of April, and they were loaded onto a ship and taken to Europe for disposal. The toxic materials had sat at the port for months because the Lebanese government slow-walked opening a letter of credit to pay the German firm, which was tasked with removing dangerous substances from the port following the Aug. 4 explosion.

Lebanese authorities announced a two-day total lockdown for Eid al-Fitr to prevent large gatherings and the subsequent spread of COVID-19 during the holiday. The lockdown will begin at 5 a.m. on the first day of the religious holiday, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and last for two days. Thursday will mark the first day of Eid al-Fitr for both Sunni and Shiite Muslims.


This article has been updated to include the date of Eid al-Fitr for Sunni and Shiite Muslims.


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Lebanon is facing “total darkness,” the head of Parliament’s energy committee, Nazih Najem, said after the Turkish company Karadeniz announced it will stop operating its power barges amid outstanding payments and a legal dispute. The stoppage will mean the reduction of another 400 megawatts in Lebanon’s power supply — about...