Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.
Lebanon’s top prosecutor lifted his seizure order on a ship that the Ukrainian government has accused of carrying stolen flour and barley, allowing it to set sail pending the expiry of another seizure order from a judge in Tripoli. Ghassan Oueidat found that “no criminal offense [was] committed,” a senior judicial source told Reuters. The remaining seizure order, issued on Monday, has only 72 hours of validity, which means the ship could set sail on Thursday, and is due to travel to Syria, according to the company that owns the cargo. Ukraine alleged that the ship’s 10,000 tons of grains were plundered from Ukrainian stores by Russian forces following their February invasion of the country. Moscow and the company in possession of the grains have denied it is stolen.
Turkey expects daily grain shipments to depart from Ukraine following the safe embarkment of the Lebanon-bound Razoni on Monday. The Razoni’s departure from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, a first since the Russian invasion began, was made possible following a grain and fertilizer export agreement between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. The restart of exports from one of the world’s top grain producers could help ease a global food crisis that has severely impacted import-dependent Lebanon.
Former Lebanese Information and Tourism Minister and consultant to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Michel Samaha was released from jail yesterday after completing his sentence for smuggling explosives from Syria to Lebanon with the intent to assassinate political and religious leaders. Samaha was arrested in 2012 and released on bail in January 2016. He was rearrested in May of that year and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Lebanese prison sentences count nine months as a year.
A march organized by a group of families of the victims of the Beirut port explosion alongside activists will take place tomorrow to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Aug. 4, 2020 blast. The march will start at the Beirut Justice Palace at 3 p.m. and pass by the French Embassy and Samir Kassir Square before ending at the Statue of the Emigrant facing the Beirut Port. Two other marches will begin at the an-Nahar building at 4 p.m. and the Beirut Fire Station in Karantina, also at 4 p.m. All three will converge at the Statue of the Emigrant. The victims’ families have invited the public to participate in the march. Last year, the first anniversary of the blast saw large demonstrations in Beirut with sporadic clashes between demonstrators and security forces, as well as between supporters of Lebanese Forces and members of the Communist Party, taking place throughout the day and later in the evening. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Ibrahim Hoteit, the spokesperson for a second group of families of victims of the explosion held a press conference in which he assailed the judge in charge of the investigation into the explosion, Tarek Bitar, demanding he resign and stop “conspiring” against the families of the victims. “You are not only arbitrary and politicized, but you are also plotting against our cause,” Hoteit said to Bitar. “You are now our adversary; you cannot pursue the investigation. You should be ashamed of yourself and submit your resignation.”
The Finance and Budget Committee approved nine additional articles of the much-delayed 2022 budget on Tuesday. The committee is awaiting final figures next week to ensure a “bigger balance between revenues and expenditures,” according to a statement from the committee. Chair Ibrahim Kanaan (FPM/Metn) also demanded a “reconsideration of the exchange rate because people cannot pay taxes on the exchange rate of LL25,000 to the dollar, while the government still pays its employees at LL1,500 to the dollar.”
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “Two years in, what's next for the Beirut port silos?”
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Lebanon’s top prosecutor lifted his seizure order on a ship that the Ukrainian government has accused of carrying stolen flour and barley, allowing it to set sail pending the expiry of another seizure order from a judge in Tripoli. Ghassan Oueidat found that “no criminal offense [was] committed,” a senior judicial source told...