Lebanon has indeed entered the last hours in the course of the first anniversary of the explosion of the port of Beirut on August 4 of last year, so that internal and external developments and positions related to this anniversary began, in addition to the ongoing preparations to commemorate the anniversary on a day of national mourning and popular movements and the culmination of the memory with a festive mass at the site of the explosion. Even on the course of the throes of forming the new government. In fact, it was clear that the level of optimism about the formation of the government recorded a significant decline in the wake of the third meeting between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, after signs of old – new complications began to appear that obstructed Prime Minister Saad Hariri and prompted him to apologize, while the country is witnessing amazing paradoxes on the eve of The memory of August 4, the most prominent of which is the interactions of the file of lifting the immunities of all officials and employees, which was strongly motivated by the petition that the “Future Bloc” gathers approvals for and related to the proposal to suspend all legal and constitutional texts related to immunities, in order to raise them automatically.
While the most prominent record of the repercussions of this movement was that the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, pre-empted the memory of August 4, by expressing his willingness, a year late after the explosion, to present his testimony before the judicial investigator, which raised the big question: Why now and not a year ago? The interactions of the anniversary of the first year of the explosion do not depend on internal developments, as the European Union, which spent not a short time in its discussions regarding Lebanon, announced yesterday that it had approved a legal framework for a sanctions regime targeting Lebanese individuals and entities. Yesterday, the Council adopted a framework for targeted restrictive measures to address the situation in Lebanon. This framework provides that sanctions can be imposed on persons and entities responsible for undermining democracy or the rule of law in Lebanon through any of the following measures:
obstructing or undermining the democratic political process by continuing to impede the formation of the government or to obstruct or seriously undermine the conduct of elections;
Obstructing or undermining the implementation of plans approved by the Lebanese authorities and with the support of relevant international actors including the European Union, to improve accountability and good governance in the public sector or implement important economic reforms, including in the banking and financial sectors by adopting transparent and non-discriminatory legislation on Export of capital, serious financial misconduct in relation to public funds, as long as the acts in question are covered by the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and unauthorized export of capital.
The sanctions consist of a travel ban to the European Union, an asset freeze for people, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, persons and entities in the European Union are prohibited from making funds available to those on the list.
In turn, Paris expressed its readiness to “increase pressure on Lebanese officials in order to form a new government.” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said during an online press conference that her country is “ready to increase pressure with its European and international partners on Lebanese political officials to achieve this.” She explained that “the formation of a government urgently that works to the fullest extent and is able to launch the reforms required by the situation, and that is a condition for any structural assistance, which remains the priority.” She recalled, “a conference organized next Wednesday at the initiative of France, with the aim of meeting the needs of the Lebanese, whose situation is deteriorating every day,” within the framework of humanitarian aid provided directly to the Lebanese since the port explosion.
Returning to the internal scene and in the absence of a government movement, the first anniversary of the August 4 explosion captured most of the popular and political interest, as advanced positions were recorded on the issue of lifting immunities.
A year after the tragedy, President Aoun informed Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat of his absolute readiness to testify about the port explosion if the judicial investigator wishes to hear him. He said: “No one is above justice, no matter how high he is, and justice is achieved by the competent judiciary, under which guarantees are available.”
As a result, Deputy Speaker Nabih Berri, MP Ali Hassan Khalil, announced: “In line with what was announced by His Excellency the President of the Republic, we confirm, as we said since the first day, our readiness to appear before the judicial investigator in the port crime to listen to us and submit to the investigation before the competent judiciary. Acceptance of lifting the immunities of all without exception.
This coincided with the delegation of the “Future” parliamentary bloc continuing its tours of the political blocs, carrying the petition that provides for the proposal to suspend immunities to facilitate trials in the crime of the port explosion. They all signed the petition.
Pending the fourth meeting between Aoun and Mikati next Monday to re-discuss the government formation presented by Mikati, which clashed with the two rotating contracts between the sovereign portfolios and the file of the Ministry of Interior and Justice. August, and the third on August 4, in which he heads to those gathered in Paris for the Lebanon Support Conference.
828 million dollars!
In the midst of this stressful atmosphere on the eve of the August 4 anniversary, the cycle of scandals did not stop at the borders. Perhaps the statement issued yesterday by the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, stated, “The Lebanese have some facts to be aware of what is happening, especially in the face of those who exploit the financial, economic and social crises with indescribable greed. “It was realistically an explosion of the scandal of fuel storage and smuggling, while the crisis escalated successively and affected diesel and gasoline as well as fuel, and the number of its import in the month of July reached a record number approaching one billion dollars. $415 million, a total of $708 million for importing gasoline and diesel. In addition to 120 million dollars to import fuel to Electricité du Liban. A total of 828 million dollars to import fuels. He said, “Despite all that, and despite all the support provided by the Banque du Liban and its insistence on trying to protect the social security of the Lebanese and secure their minimum needs despite the critical financial situation, the Lebanese are still suffering from a shortage of diesel fuel, for example, to the point of losing it at the official subsidized price, And the emergence of a black market through which the Lebanese are blackmailed in their most basic rights, including electricity through generators, and this has dangerous consequences for hospitals and for the hospital and food security of the Lebanese, due to the insistence of traders, either on smuggling or on storage for sale on the black market, due to the lack of action Strict action by those concerned to stop the suffering of citizens.”