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Lebanon switched to daylight savings time last night, in accordance with Monday’s cabinet decision to reverse last week’s controversial plan to postpone the changeover. A barrage of criticism followed last Thursday’s decision to postpone the shift, initially scheduled for last Saturday. Between Thursday and Monday, several media outlets (including L’Orient Today), private institutions and religious authorities announced that they would not abide by the government’s decision, effectively dividing the country along two time zones. Ali Darwish, a former MP for Tripoli who is close to Mikati, told L’Orient Today that the caretaker prime minister was surprised by the backlash, especially the criticisms that took on a sectarian dimension.
Caretaker Telecoms Minister Johnny Corm called on state operator Ogero employees to suspend their open-ended strike yesterday. Ogero employees launched the strike last Friday to demand improved salaries. Corm described their demands as “rightful,” but said he cannot grant them without cabinet approval. The cabinet is expected to discuss public employees’ salaries next week, a Grand Serail source told L’Orient Today, one week after caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati canceled a government meeting addressing the same topic due to backlash to the postponement of daylight savings. Corm also warned against wider consequences caused by the “fall of the telecoms sector” after Ogero said certain outage repairs would take longer amid the strike. In an interview with local television station MTV, Ogero Director-General Imad Kreidieh minimized the strike’s role in its interrupted service, warning that interruptions could “extend to all regions” given the state telecoms provider’s inability to repair or replace generators — a necessary supplement to the state’s deficient electricity supply.
An Israeli drone dropped a smoke bomb near a group of men in a cafe in Marjayoun, Nabatieh governorate, yesterday. No injuries were reported in the area, just across the border from the Metula Israeli settlement. A spokesperson for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which monitors the border, told L'Orient Today that they were aware of the incident and are “looking into it.” While Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are relatively common, the drone’s incursion is the latest in a series of tense incidents regarding Lebanon’s southern border. Just this month, there were allegations by the Israeli military that a potential suicide bomber had infiltrated Israel from Lebanon and a breach of the Blue Line by Israeli patrols.
Internal Security Forces (ISF) announced the arrest of two brothers allegedly running “a drug smuggling network” connecting South American countries to Lebanon. The ISF statement said the two suspects were arrested on March 17, interrupting an attempt to smuggle more than a kilogram of cocaine hidden in CDs and books. “The ISF [last year] made 1,041 drug seizures and arrested 1,512 people involved in trafficking ... preventing the export of these products, especially to Arab countries," caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said at the start of March. Also earlier this month, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the implementation of a container control program to prevent smuggling, expressing hopes to restore “the full movement of [Lebanese] exports” after Saudi Arabia embargoed Lebanese produce last April in response to the discovery of Captagon, an illicit stimulant, in a shipment of pomegranates. The arrests come as the US and UK announce sanctions against Lebanese and Syrian individuals accused of involvement in trafficking Captagon, including Lebanese kingpin Nouh Zeaiter.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “How the Education Ministry bypassed banks to pay its employees through OMT”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Lebanon switched to daylight savings time last night, in accordance with Monday’s cabinet decision to reverse last week’s controversial plan to postpone the changeover. A barrage of criticism followed last Thursday’s decision to postpone the shift, initially scheduled for last Saturday. Between Thursday and Monday, several...