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‘Rescue’ cabinet wins confidence, Diab hearing rescheduled, Iranian fuel distribution: What to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, Sept. 21

‘Rescue’ cabinet wins confidence, Diab hearing rescheduled, Iranian fuel distribution: What to know today

Parliament granted confidence to Najib Mikati’s ‘Together for the Rescue’ cabinet on Monday. (Credit: Marc Fayad)

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Parliament gave its confidence to Najib Mikati’s new cabinet and its rescue plan for Lebanon. The vote, which ended more than 13 months of a caretaker-status government, capped off a session that started an hour late due to electricity cuts and ran late into evening, with 20 legislators speaking to express their support for or opposition to the new cabinet’s ministerial statement. It passed with 85 of 100 parliamentarians present putting their support behind the premier’s cabinet. Now that the formation formalities are complete, Mikati and his ministers’ work begins, as they set about attempting to stabilize a country in the throes of a sprawling financial crisis that has pushed an estimated 78 percent of the population into poverty.

Hassan Diab’s hearing in the Beirut blast probe was rescheduled for Oct. 4 after the former premier failed to appear for questioning yesterday. Diab left Lebanon for the United States last week, reportedly on a preplanned trip to visit his children, obliging the lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, to delay his hearing. Diab was Lebanon’s premier at the time of the 2020 blast, which killed at least 218 people and destroyed large parts of the capital. Meanwhile, a (potentially brief) window of opportunity has opened for Bitar to pursue prosecution of three former ministers, who are all current MPs. According to Lebanese law, during the period from Parliament’s vote of confidence in a new cabinet to the date its regular session opens — scheduled for Oct. 19 — MPs are no longer protected by legal immunity. This window can be closed only by convening the legislature in an extraordinary session. President Michel Aoun will decide today alongside Mikati whether to issue a decree to this effect, Aoun’s media adviser told L’Orient Today. Separately, Bitar yesterday approved the release of two port workers who have been detained since the days following the blast, a judicial source told L’Orient Today. Wajdi Karkafi was a port employee, while Raed al-Ahmad was working for a company hired to carry out maintenance at Warehouse 12 at the time of the explosion.

Several hospitals, orphanages and organizations in several areas of southern Lebanon received fuel imported from Iran yesterday, Hezbollah-affiliated media reported. The fuel was distributed by al-Amana, a network of Hezbollah-affiliated gas stations, and its delivery was supervised by local party officials. This distribution comes after two convoys of trunks carrying Iranian diesel shipped via Syria arrived in Lebanon. The fuel’s arrival, although a lifeline for many essential services amid crippling shortages, proved a controversial topic during yesterday’s Parliament session. MP Rola Tabsh (Future Movement/West Beirut) condemned celebrations of the shipment, saying, “There are people who are celebrating the arrival of Iranian fuel after they burned the whole country,” to which MP Ali Ammar (Hezbollah/Baabda) replied, “The only thing that will burn this country is its rentier politics.”

A stray bullet hit and killed a 23-year-old woman on Sunday on the terrace of a Kesrouan restaurant. Local media outlets yesterday reported that Tatiana Wakim was killed while dining after a dispute between a number of men ended in gunfire. The shooter reportedly fired in the air in an effort to break up the fight, but one of his bullets hit Wakim in the chest. It is not unusual for stray bullets to cause injuries and fatalities in Lebanon. Last week, a man in Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood was killed by such a bullet while on his balcony after a personal dispute occurred between armed men.  


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Parliament gave its confidence to Najib Mikati’s new cabinet and its rescue plan for Lebanon. The vote, which ended more than 13 months of a caretaker-status government, capped off a session that started an hour late due to electricity cuts and ran late into evening, with 20 legislators speaking to express their support for or...