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In the latest escalation of the diplomatic dispute between Lebanon and Gulf states, Kuwait is reportedly curtailing visas for Lebanese citizens. According to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, an “informed security source” said the country’s Interior Ministry had stopped processing tourist visas for Lebanese until further notice. Lebanese citizens residing in Kuwait will not be impacted by the decision, the source said. However, a security source in Kuwait told AFP that only a verbal decision was made to limit the number of tourist and business visas for Lebanese nationals coming into Kuwait, but that no official decision on the matter had been made and visas for Lebanese nationals have not been suspended. The move came after a diplomatic spat erupted at the end of October over critical comments Lebanese Information Minister George Kurdahi previously made about Saudi Arabia's involvement in the war in Yemen.
After remaining silent on the escalating diplomatic row between Gulf countries and Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a speech on Thursday at 3 p.m. marking the occasion of his party’s Martyrs’ Day. No statement has been issued on whether Nasrallah will take a stance on the rift or cover other topics. Hezbollah MPs have expressed their support of Kurdahi, who has faced mounting pressure to resign in order to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia, which has openly criticized Iran-backed Hezbollah's influence in Lebanon. Gulf countries including Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have recalled their ambassadors from Lebanon, while Saudi Arabia not only recalled its ambassador but imposed a total ban on Lebanese imports. Nasrallah’s speech is set to take place in parallel with a highly anticipated World Cup qualifying football match between Lebanon and Iran at 2 p.m. in Saida.
The Energy Ministry has once again hiked fuel prices, with the cost of 20 liters of fuel edging closer to half the monthly minimum wage. The cost of 20 liters of 95-octane and 98-octane gasoline is now LL308,500 and LL317,600, respectively. The price of the same amount of diesel is now LL292,600, while a tank of cooking gas now costs LL251,100. And gas prices are expected to only continue increasing: according to fuel distributor syndicate head Fadi Abou Chakra, Banque du Liban told fuel distributors it will now only subsidize 90 percent of fuel costs, and distributors will have to secure “fresh” dollars to pay the remaining 10 percent. The state has effectively moved to end fuel subsidies in recent months, while measures meant to alleviate deepening financial pressures on vulnerable families languish, including a government ration card scheme and a World Bank-funded social safety net program.
Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee will hold a session on Thursday at 11 a.m. MPs are set to discuss opening additional credit in the 2021 budget for the Economy Ministry to compensate wheat and barley farmers for 2018 and 2019, the NNA reported. In the past, the government used to buy a quantity of wheat from local farmers annually under a program intended to ensure that the country has an adequate stock of grain, but the program has languished in recent years. The session, which will be chaired by MP Ibrahim Kanaan (FPM/Metn), will also address a proposed law to regulate the relationship of suppliers and retailers and a draft law to exempt all industrial companies in Lebanon from paying taxes.
With less than two weeks left to register to vote in the 2022 parliamentary elections, 100,000 Lebanese have signed up to cast a ballot, according to the nonprofit organization Impact Lebanon’s Sawti (“My Voice”) initiative. Registration ends on Nov. 20 — click here to read L’Orient Today's guide to register to vote. Elections are currently set to take place on March 27, after Parliament amended the electoral law for the second time on Oct. 28 so that early elections could be held, despite objections from President Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement. However, Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib warned on Tuesday that the amended date would not give his ministry enough time to prepare for Lebanese expatriates to vote.