Lebanese purchasing power continues to shrink amid financial collapse

Lebanese purchasing power continues to shrink amid financial collapse
A pastry peddler walks past closed jeweler’ shops in the popular market of the Burj Hammoud neighborhood of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 16 December 2021

Lebanese purchasing power continues to shrink amid financial collapse

Lebanese purchasing power continues to shrink amid financial collapse
  • Self-employed professionals called for a national state of emergency to be declared

BEIRUT: The Lebanese pound hit record lows this week, trading at almost LBP29,000 to the US dollar, leading to an intervention from the Banque du Liban that allowed the exchange rate to drop to LBP27,000.

This spurred self-employed professionals to call for a national state of emergency to be declared, while the transport sector announced that Thursday would be a “day of anger.”

Further exacerbating the situation in Lebanon, the director-general of telecom company Ogero, Imad Kreidieh, said he had applied for an urgent advance to purchase fuel to continue operating the electrical generators for telecom networks.

“But President Michel Aoun refrained from signing decrees since the Cabinet is not convening, which may lead to the suspension of our services and interruption of internet services,” he added.

In light of Lebanon’s increasing financial challenges, the purchasing power of Lebanese citizens has shrunk by 95 percent, while the minimum wage has become the equivalent of about $24.

The head of the Syndicate of Food Importers, Hani Bohsali, said: “The situation is too dangerous. It is not limited to the exchange rate or price increase. Food security is in danger. Regardless of the ability to secure dollars for imports, the problem has become in the consumer’s ability to purchase goods. Chaos is pervading markets.”

The heads of professional syndicates met on Wednesday and expressed “deep concerns about the comprehensive deterioration that has crossed the line and is now threatening the country’s foundations.”

The syndicates called for the need to declare a national state of emergency, accompanied by “vigorous work” to initiate a political solution to save the country and put in place a clear and effective rescue plan, especially “in the absence of serious solutions” for social and economic issues.

“BDL and the Association of Banks in Lebanon ought to take urgent measures to make it easier for the professional syndicates to withdraw their deposits in Lebanese and foreign currencies as soon as possible,” the syndicates demanded, threatening to sue BDL and ABL, and carry out massive protests.

HIGHLIGHT

Self-employed professionals called for a national state of emergency to be declared, while the transport sector announced that Thursday would be a ‘day of anger.’

There are no prospects of the Cabinet convening any time soon, as Hezbollah and the Amal Movement insist on removing Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the probe into the Beirut port blast, before attending any sessions.

Bitar has reiterated his demand for the arrest of former finance minister, MP and leader in the Amal Movement, Ali Hassan Khalil.

Some political observers interpreted these developments as “new means of pressure against the continuous disruption of Cabinet sessions by Hezbollah and the Amal movement,” while other pro-Hezbollah observers believed this was “a new American means of pressure to besiege the party.”

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, an ally of Hezbollah, told his visitors on Wednesday: “99 percent of our suffering in Lebanon stems from internal disputes.”

He accused Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement of opposing the Taif Agreement and abstaining from implementing laws, especially the law on electricity which, he said, was to blame for over 45 percent of the state’s financial deficit.

Berri said that he and Hezbollah did not want Bitar to be removed from the port probe. Rather, they were demanding that the investigation abide by the law and constitution.

“The law granted judges the right to be tried before a special tribunal, as well as it granted MPs, presidents and ministers the right to be tried before a parliamentary body. Why were these rules and principles not adhered to?”


Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
Updated 8 sec ago

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
  • For over two months Iranian-flagged Lana has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April, part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek coast guard officials said, after Greek authorities approved its release.
For over two months the Iranian-flagged Lana, formerly Pegas, has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia in a diplomatic impasse which has strained Athens’ relations with Tehran amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States.
“It left Karystos at 0630 am (0330 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 1000 pm,” one official said.
Greek authorities in April impounded Lana and its oil cargo with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Evia, due to sanctions following a legal action by the United States.
The ship was later released due to complications regarding its ownership, but part of the Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another ship, Ice Energy, which was hired by the United States and is moored off Piraeus port.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf and sail them back to Iran after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens.
Following an appeal by an Iranian company on June 7, a Greek judicial panel overturned the initial court order that allowed the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the United States.
That decision has cleared the way for Lana to retrieve the cargo that was transferred to Ice Energy.
Until last week however Lana, which still has engine problems, was being detained by another company due to debts owed for towing services. It was officially released after the amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.


Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
Updated 02 July 2022

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
  • Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the 2011 civil war
  • Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks

An Israeli strike on Syria’s western coast wounded two civilians on Saturday, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air strike” at about 6:30 am near the town of Al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said in a statement, identifying the locations hit as poultry farms, without elaborating.
The strike was conducted from the Mediterranean Sea, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” the statement said.
Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor.
The raids have targeted Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks.
Besides the extensive damage caused to civilian and military runways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes had targeted nearby warehouses used as weapons depots by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian war has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.


UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran
Updated 02 July 2022

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran
  • Iran suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years as major geological fault lines crisscross the country

DUBAI: UAE residents reported feeling tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake that jolted South Iran on Saturday at 3:24 am, according to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) on Saturday.

NCM added that the quake, which claimed the lives of five people in Iran, did not have any impact on the UAE.

State news agency IRNA said a magnitude 6.3 and 6.1 earthquakes followed the 6.1 quake that flattened the village of Sayeh Khosh near Iran’s Gulf coast, with more than a dozen aftershocks reported.

Iran has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years as major geological fault lines crisscross the country.


Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz
Updated 02 July 2022

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz
  • The militia is also accused of targeting the army’s sites and residential neighborhoods using snipers

DUBAI: The Houthi militia has bombed army bases in Al-Dhabab area, west of Taiz, according to reports by state news agency Saba on Friday.

This comes as part of the militia’s daily violations of the UN truce, wrote Saba.

Yemen’s army has recorded a total of 2,778 violations by the Houthis since the beginning of the truce until Thursday.

The Taiz Military Axis said the violations ranged from artillery shelling, establishing fortifications and new sites, bringing in reinforcements, building roads, laying mines, conducting reconnaissance, and using drones.

The militia is also accused of targeting the army’s sites and residential neighborhoods using snipers.


At least five killed in magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast

Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2022

At least five killed in magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast

Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
  • The quake struck just a minute after a 5.7 tremor

TEHRAN: At least five people were killed by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in southern Iran early on Saturday, state media reported, with the area also hit by two later strong quakes of up to 6.3 magnitude.
“Five people have died in the earthquake ... and so far 12 are hospitalized,” Mehrdad Hassanzadeh, head of emergency management in Hormozgan Province on Iran’s Gulf coast, told state TV. “Rescue work has been carried out and we are now providing tents as emergency housing.”

A handout shakemap made available by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows the location of a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hitting around 54km north east of Bandar-e Lengeh, Iran, 02 July 2022. (EPA)

The state news agency IRNA said a magnitude 6.3 earthquake and a magnitude 6.1 quake followed the 6.1 quake that flattened the village of Sayeh Khosh near Iran’s Gulf coast. There were more than a dozen aftershocks.
“All of the victims died in the first earthquake and no-one was harmed in the next two severe quakes as people were already outside their homes,” said Foad Moradzadeh, governor of Bandar Lengeh country, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.
Major geological fault lines crisscross Iran, which has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake in Kerman province killed 31,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam.