Fe­bru­ary’s es­sen­tial head­lines

Executive Magazine - - Contents -

> An ex­plo­sion on Fe­bru­ary 1 ripped through a bus trans­port­ing Le­banese Shi­ite pil­grims to re­li­gious sites in Da­m­as­cus, leav­ing at least six dead. While Jab­hat al-Nusra claimed on Twit­ter that a mem­ber of the group had car­ried out a sui­cide attack, Syr­ian state me­dia re­ported the bomb­ing was caused by an ex­plo­sive de­vice planted on the bus.

> A joint force com­pris­ing the army, the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Forces and Gen­eral Se­cu­rity launched a se­cu­rity plan in the Bekaa Val­ley, ex­pand­ing op­er­a­tions and raids aimed at detaining fugi­tives. Ac­cord­ing to army re­ports, the crack­down has re­sulted in the ar­rest of over 150 sus­pected crim­i­nals, in ad­di­tion to the con­fis­ca­tion of il­le­gal drugs, light weapons and un­reg­is­tered cars.

> Hezbol­lah and the Fu­ture Move­ment con­tin­ued talks aimed at re­solv­ing out­stand­ing dis­putes be­tween the two sides, hold­ing their sixth dia­logue ses­sion at par­lia­ment speaker Nabih Berri’s Beirut res­i­dence. In­te­rior Min­is­ter Nouhad Mach­nouk, who took part in the talks, said that a coun­tert­er­ror­ism strat­egy was on the agenda.

> For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri re­turned to Le­banon to de­liver a speech mark­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of his fa­ther Rafik Hariri’s as­sas­si­na­tion. Speak­ing at the BIEL com­plex on Fe­bru­ary 14, Hariri stressed that “Le­banon does not be­long to any re­gional axis” and urged Hezbol­lah to end its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fight­ing in Syria.

> Speak­ing just two days af­ter for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri called on Hezbol­lah to with­draw from Syria, the party’s Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Has­san Nas­ral­lah re­vealed that the group has a “limited pres­ence” in Iraq and is en­gaged in the on­go­ing fight there against ISIS. Nas­ral­lah ad­dressed those de­mand­ing the group end its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fight­ing, call­ing in­stead for them to “go to­gether [with us] to Syria.” He also crit­i­cized Gulf states and Jor­dan for sup­port­ing Jab­hat al-Nusra while at the same time en­gag­ing in the fight against ISIS.

> MP Khaled Da­her suspended his membership in the Fu­ture bloc, fol­low­ing ear­lier re­ports that he had been kicked out. The law­maker sparked con­tro­versy af­ter mak­ing state­ments that some deemed of­fen­sive to the coun­try’s Chris­tians. Fol­low­ing North Le­banon Gover­nor Ramzi Nohra’s or­der to re­move all po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious in­signia from public lo­ca­tions in Tripoli, Da­her told a group of pro­test­ers ob­ject­ing to the re­moval of Is­lamist ban­ners from a Tripoli square, “If they want to re­move [re­li­gious in­signia], let them start with the Christ the King statue and posters of saints.”

> Le­banese Army com­man­der Gen. Jean Kah­wagi took part in a meet­ing in Riyadh bring­ing to­gether mil­i­tary com­man­ders and chiefs of staff from coun­tries par­tic­i­pat­ing in the US led coali­tion against ISIS. While Le­banon has not joined the coali­tion in Syria and Iraq, it has been con­fronting the or­ga­ni­za­tion along the Syr­ian bor­der.

> In a state­ment re­leased on Fe­bru­ary 17, Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW) called on Gen­eral Se­cu­rity to im­me­di­ately re­veal the where­abouts of two Syr­ian na­tion­als who dis­ap­peared in Le­banese cus­tody, amid fears that they had been de­ported to Syria. HRW’s Mid­dle East and North Africa deputy direc­tor Nadim Houry said that Le­banon’s re­fusal to dis­close their lo­ca­tion made the au­thor­i­ties “com­plicit in any harm that comes to them.”

> Quot­ing UNHCR sources, The Daily Star re­ported that the Le­banese Army or­dered about 17,000 refugees in the eastern Bekaa Val­ley to va­cate their in­for­mal tented set­tle­ments.

> A Fe­bru­ary re­port com­mis­sioned by the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion, UNICEF and Save the Chil­dren es­ti­mates that over 1,500

chil­dren work on the streets of Le­banon, of­ten sub­jected to var­i­ous forms of ex­ploita­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the most preva­lent forms of work were beg­ging and street vend­ing, ac­count­ing for about 80 per­cent of the ex­am­ined cases.

> In late Jan­uary 2015, Le­banon’s Min­istry of La­bor re­jected a pro­posal to cre­ate a union for mi­grant do­mes­tic work­ers, af­ter the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of La­bor Unions had en­dorsed the move. Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the min­istry, “ad­vanced laws would solve the prob­lems that the sec­tor is suf­fer­ing from, not the for­ma­tion of groups un­der the guise of a syn­di­cate.”

> Le­banon’s top three banks have re­leased fi­nan­cial re­sults for 2014, all show­ing steady growth de­spite the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try. Bank Audi re­ported as­sets of $42 bil­lion at the end of De­cem­ber 2014, a 15.9 per­cent year on year growth. Mean­while, Blom Bank and By­b­los Bank re­ported as­set in­creases as well, to $27.98 bil­lion (7 per­cent) and $19 bil­lion (3 per­cent) re­spec­tively.

> Le­banon’s gross public debt reached $66.6 bil­lion at the end of 2014, rep­re­sent­ing a 4.9 per­cent in­crease year on year.

> Ac­cord­ing to re­cent statis­tics re­leased by the Port of Beirut, ac­tiv­ity growth saw a mod­est in­crease in 2014, with a 0.2 per­cent rise in ag­gre­gate freight han­dled, com­pared to 14.4 per­cent in 2013.

> The UN’s Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion sent a del­e­ga­tion to in­spect the Beirut slaugh­ter­house in Karantina. The fa­cil­ity was or­dered closed in Novem­ber 2014 by Beirut Gover­nor Ziad Che­bib af­ter in­spec­tions re­vealed nu­mer­ous health and san­i­ta­tion vi­o­la­tions. Beirut’s main fish mar­ket, also lo­cated in Karantina, has re­cently re­opened af­ter ren­o­va­tions were made to ad­dress vi­o­la­tions.

> Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Im­porters (AIA), 2,436 new pas­sen­ger cars were sold in Jan­uary 2015, a 2.7 per­cent in­crease from the 2,372 cars sold in the same month of 2014.

> The an­nual sur­vey of the ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket in the Arab world, car­ried out by re­search firm Ip­sos and ArabAd mag­a­zine, showed that real ad­ver­tis­ing ex­pen­di­tures in Le­banon rose 1.9 per­cent from 2013 to 2014, in­creas­ing from $185.5 mil­lion to $189 mil­lion.

> Fig­ures re­leased by Beirut In­ter­na­tional Air­port showed a 11.4 per­cent year on year in­crease in the num­ber of pas­sen­gers for Jan­uary 2015, while to­tal freight han­dled by the air­port de­creased by 16.4 per­cent.

> In its an­nual sur­vey as­sess­ing the state of press free­dom in 180 coun­tries, Re­porters With­out Bor­ders ranked Le­banon sec­ond in the MENA re­gion, be­hind Kuwait, and 98th glob­ally, ris­ing eight places from last year’s rank­ings.

> Le­banon ranked 94th out of 186 in the Her­itage Foun­da­tion’s 2015 Eco­nomic Free­dom Sur­vey. The sur­vey as­sesses the state of eco­nomic free­dom in a coun­try on the ba­sis of four cat­e­gories: rule of law, gov­ern­ment size, reg­u­la­tory ef­fi­ciency and mar­ket open­ness.

The wreck­age of a bus that was hit by an ex­plo­sion while trans­port­ing Le­banese Shi­ite pil­grims in Da­m­as­cus

Saad Hariri de­liv­ered a speech dur­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of his fa­ther’s as­sas­si­na­tion

Jan­uary car sales show a mod­est in­crease on last year

Beirut Port’s 2014 growth is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than in 2013

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