There is no doubt that the main economic challenge before the new Lebanese government is the burden of the public debt, which has recently grown at an alarming pace. The lack of growth and the widening fiscal deficit are putting great pressure on public finances. This puts the central bank in front of serious risks, not least of which is the high inflation rate and what may happen at the monetary level if the appropriate monetary policy is not implemented to support the Lebanese pound.
By the end of January, Lebanon’s public debt had reached $64 billion and its debt-to-GDP ratio has reached 163.1%. It should be noted that the debt in Lebanese pounds reached the equivalent of $37.8 billion, up 12.6%, while foreign currency debt increased by 6.7% to reach $26.1 billion. The rate of growth of the public debt is worrisome because it has exceeded 10%, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2012-13 didn’t exceed 2%. In other words, the debt is growing faster than the economy at a rate exceeding 500%. One doesn’t need to be well-versed in economics to see that the country is heading for bankruptcy.
2014 john McCain : Obama Is ‘Near Delusional In Thinking The Cold War Was Over’
2008 John McCain : “The Cold War is over, the Soviet empire is gone and neither one is missed,”
2014 John McCain : ‘Obama’s foreign policy “feckless” “We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”
1980’s John McCain: The fundamental question is: What is the United States’ interest in Lebanon? It is said we are there to keep the peace. I ask, what peace? It is said we are there to aid the government. I ask, what government? It is said we are there to stabilize the region. I ask, how can the U.S. presence stabilize the region?… The longer we stay in Lebanon, the harder it will be for us to leave. We will be trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the first place.
Two-thirds of a historic collection of 80,000 books have gone up in smoke after a library was torched in the Lebanese city of Tripoli amid sectarian tensions. The blaze was started after a pamphlet insulting Islam was reportedly found inside a book.
Firefighters struggled to subdue the flames as the decades-old Al-Saeh library went up in smoke on Friday in the Serail neighborhood of Tripoli. Despite firefighters’ best efforts, little of the trove of historic books and manuscripts was recovered from the wreckage.
“Two thirds of some 80,000 books and manuscripts housed there,” a security source told Agence France Press, referring to the items destroyed. The source added that the blaze was started after a manuscript insulting the Prophet Mohammed was found hidden in the pages of one of the library books.
I just, can’t…
Israel said it bombed a militant group’s base in Lebanon on Friday in response to the launching of four rockets across its northern border hours earlier. It was Israel’s first airstrike inside Lebanon since its 2006 war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
The target was a base belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command located near the town of Naameh, just 10 miles south of Beirut, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.
The Popular Front denied any involvement in the rocket attack inside Israel, for which an al-Qaeda-linked organization had already claimed responsibility.
A protester was shot and killed on Sunday near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, apparently in a clash between supporters and opponents of Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite Muslim organization whose military intervention in the Syrian civil war has strained Lebanon’s stability.
Demonstrators said that they were attacked by men wearing yellow armbands, the color of Hezbollah’s flag. They said the men beat on the windows of a bus that was taking the demonstrators to the protest, and then opened fire.
Hezbollah’s television station, Al-Manar, said that “a citizen” had shot a protester, citing statements form the Lebanese Army. The station did not say whether Hezbollah supporters were involved.
Two rockets hit Hizbollah’s stronghold in southern Beirut yesterday, marking a dangerous new phase in Syria’s civil war.
The attack on the Beirut suburb of Chiyah was limited in scale - four Syrian labourers were wounded and some windows were smashed - but its implications could be far reaching.
It was the first time the Hizbollah-dominated area has been attacked, sparking fears that a new front in the Syrian war is opening in the Lebanese capital.
The Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group representing some rebel forces, denied any role, but one FSA officer described the attack as a warning to Hizbollah.
“In coming days we will do more than this. This is a warning to Hizbollah and the Lebanese government to keep Hizbollah’s hands off Syria,” Ammar Al Wawi said.
Some Syrian rebels have said the war would soon arrive on Hizbollah’s home turf if the group continued to fight alongside Bashar Al Assad’s forces inside Syria. That pledge seems to have been borne out.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced Saturday the large-scale involvement of his party in the war in neighboring Syria, saying his party’s fighting against Syrian rebels aimed at protecting the resistance group.
On Sunday, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters launched a massive offensive against the rebel-held town of Qusair near the border with Lebanon.
Nasrallah justified his party’s actions in Syria, citing the danger of the growing presence of takfiri groups in Syria, repeated threats from Syrian rebels and that his group would become a target of the United States and Israel should Assad fall.
Syrian government forces and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah launched a fierce campaign to seize more rebel territory in the border town of Qusair on Saturday, sources on both sides of the conflict said.
Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad said additional tanks and artillery had been deployed around opposition-held territory in Qusair, a Syrian town close to the Lebanese border.
“I’ve never seen a day like this since the battle started,” said Malek Ammar, an activist speaking from the town by Skype. “The shelling is so violent and heavy. It’s like they’re trying to destroy the city house by house.”
At least 30 people were killed in opposition-held areas on Saturday, most of them rebels, and dozens were injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Rebels are largely surrounded in Qusair, a town of 30,000 that has become a strategic battleground. Assad’s forces want to take the area to secure a route between the capital Damascus and his stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, effectively dividing rebel-held territories in the north and south.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah hinted Tuesday that his group, as well as President Bashar Assad’s other allies Iran and Russia, could intervene militarily to prevent the downfall of the Damascus government.
The head of the resistance group also said his fighters would continue to defend Lebanese in Syrian border villages from rebel attacks, arguing that the Lebanese state was unable to fulfill the task itself.
“Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri groups. They will not let this happen,” Nasrallah, Assad’s closest ally in Lebanon, said in a televised speech.
“How will this happen? Details will come later. I say this based on information…rather than wishful thinking,” Nasrallah added.
Syria accuses Western states and Israel of waging a war to topple Assad through the backing of “armed gangs,” Damascus’ term for rebels. Earlier this month, Assad told a visiting Lebanese delegation from the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition there would be no reconciliation with “Takfiri and terrorist groups.”
The Hezbollah chief said that judging by facts on the ground, Syrian rebels lacked the military capabilities to topple Assad, who is supported by Tehran and Moscow.
Two Lebanese Salafist sheikhs called Monday for a jihad to defend Sunnis in war-ravaged Syria following what they said was Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad’s forces.
The calls by Sidon’s Sheikh Ahmad Assir and Tripoli’s Sheikh Salem alRifai, staunch supporters of the Syrian uprising, came as the newly appointed head of Syria’s opposition National Coalition warned that Hezbollah’s role in fighting in the central Syrian province of Homs amounted to a “declaration of war.”
“What is happening in Homs is a declaration of war against the Syrian people and the Arab League should deal with it on this basis,” George Sabra said in Istanbul shortly after the opposition bloc announced his appointment as interim chief. “The Lebanese president and the Lebanese government should realize the danger that it poses to the lives of Syrians and the future relations between the two peoples and countries.”
His statement follows reports that fighters from Hezbollah were taking the lead in the Syrian regime’s battle against rebel groups the Al-Qusair area of Homs.
Speaking to his followers at a news conference at Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in east Sidon Monday night, Assir called for “a jihad in Syria, particularly in Al-Qusair.” He vowed to establish what he termed “Free Resistance Brigades” starting from Sidon and urged Sunni scholars to endorse his decision.
Assir also called for forming “secret armed groups for self-defense in case [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah decided to start fighting in Lebanon as he is doing in Syria.”