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MORNING BRIEF

Protests in Tripoli, new US sanctions, hostage-taking incident: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Here's what happened yesterday, and what to expect today, Wednesday, Jan. 19

Protests in Tripoli, new US sanctions, hostage-taking incident: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Onlookers gathered in front of a bank in the Bekaa where a hostage situation was reported, January 18, 2022. (Credit: L'Orient Today)

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Protesters staged a sit-in in front of Tripoli’s Serail yesterday, demanding a reduction in food prices after the lira’s gains against the US dollar. The protesters accused store owners of “making huge illegal profits at the expense of citizens,” according to the state-run National News Agency. They also called on authorities to enforce laws requiring private generator owners to install meters and adhere to the government’s price schedule, both of which are widely flouted by generator owners. Economy Minister Amin Salam denounced accusations that the ministry’s Consumer Protection Directorate is ineffectual, saying “we refuse to say that the directorate is powerless.”

The United States hit three Lebanese men and one company with sanctions yesterday, calling them “Hezbollah-linked financial facilitators.” The US Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson described the three — Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun, and Jihad Salem Alame — as “businessmen who raise and launder funds for Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities while the Lebanese people face worsening economic and humanitarian crises.” The sanctions also extend to Dar Al Salam for Travel & Tourism, a Lebanese travel agency the three men own and operate, according to the US. The US has issued sanctions against Lebanese individuals and businesses on multiple occasions in recent months.

A man carrying gasoline and grenades took hostages inside a bank branch in the Bekaa in an attempt to get his savings back. No one was reported injured in the incident, which took place at a branch of the Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries (BBAC). The man allegedly entered the bank armed with a can of gasoline and threatened to burn the customers and employees if the bank did not pay him the $50,000 in his savings, according to our correspondent in the area. He was later arrested by the Internal Security Forces. Illegal banking restrictions that Lebanon’s commercial banks have imposed upon customers since 2019 have provoked widespread anger. Many of their locations have been vandalized or otherwise attacked over the past two years.

Judge Ghada Aoun issued a decision to freeze central bank Governor Riad Salameh’s real estate and cars. The Mount Lebanon public prosecutor made the decision as part of a legal complaint lodged by lawyers belonging to a civil society group dubbed “People Want to Reform the System.” Salameh can appeal Aoun’s ruling once he is formally notified of it. Last week, Aoun issued a travel ban against Salameh, ostensibly preventing him from leaving the country by air, land, or sea.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: "As the cost of driving skyrockets, a project to expand Lebanon's public transit system is on the rocks"



Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Protesters staged a sit-in in front of Tripoli’s Serail yesterday, demanding a reduction in food prices after the lira’s gains against the US dollar. The protesters accused store owners of “making huge illegal profits at the expense of citizens,” according to the state-run National News Agency. They also called on authorities...