Lebanon: Soaring inflation turns olive oil into a luxury – DW – 05/08/2023

Lebanese olive oil has become unaffordable for many in the crisis-ridden country. As inflation bites and the US dollar reigns supreme, poorer people are forced to part with their traditional local diet. Imad Waresbi is a 43-year-old resident of Tripoli in northern Lebanon who produces and trades olive oil for a living. He sells his oil for a wholesale price of $5 (€4.50) per liter, which is a fairly reasonable price for the product, he said. In the shops, however, a liter nowadays costs around

In Lebanon, journalists come under legal intimidation as press freedom declines

BEIRUT — The recent summoning by state authorities of the editors-in-chief of two independent Lebanese news media outlets has sparked an outcry from civil society, bringing the issue of press freedom to the forefront once again. Lebanese independent news media outlet Megaphone News' editor-in-chief, Jean Kassir, was summoned by Lebanon's State Security on March 30. Megaphone News claims that Ghassan Oueidat, prosecutor general in the Court of Cassation, is responsible for the summons of Kassir

Lebanon's LGBTQ community faces digital exploitation, blackmail

BEIRUT — Lebanon's LGBTQ community is no longer safe online, as its members have become a target of both security officers and private individuals seeking to exploit them. In a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week, the human rights organization documented extensive cases of digital targeting of the LGBTQ community through interviews with 90 people in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Tunisia. Rasha Younes, the senior LGBTQ rights researcher at HRW, said that security forces ac

Court ruling frees Italian hemp farmers and manufacturers from narcotics law

The Regional Administrative Court (TAR) of Lazio has anulled an Italian government decree on officinal plants which put the use of hemp flowers and leaves under narcotics law. This marks the first time the Italian hemp sector has appealed against a ministerial decree on hemp, which aimed to limit the use of the plant. According to the court’s ruling, the hemp plant cannot be divided by its parts and must be considered in its entirety.

Is freedom of expression in Lebanon under threat?

Freedom of expression and the press are under threat in Lebanon, something that some TV stations and journalists have learned the hard way in recent months. TV station faced three attacks between December and January after airing a comedy sketch that some viewers deemed offensive to the Shia community in the south of Lebanon. In the sketch, Joanna Karaki, a Lebanese comedian wearing a black hijab and mimicking a southern Lebanese accent, said that "the majority of children in the South have gr

The war within Lebanon's judiciary over the Beirut blast

The investigation into the Beirut port explosion on 4 August 2020 has entered a fierce new battle. Head of the Beirut criminal court Tarek Bitar has unexpectedly restarted the investigation after a 13-month hiatus, entering into a confrontation with top judiciary bodies. The announcement was made following a series of protests in early January by relatives of the victims of the explosion and civil rights groups against the stagnation of the investigation and calling on judicial bodies to unbloc

Meet judge Tarek Bitar, rattling Lebanon's political class in Beirut blast probe

BEIRUT — Judge Tarek Bitar burst back onto the Lebanese political scene this week when he resumed his probe into the 2020 Beirut port explosion — ending a 13-month hiatus and bringing on new political challenges. The families of the port blast view Bitar as their last hope to uncover the truth in the explosion that killed over 200 people, ravaged Beirut, but with no yet being held accountable. Part of the political class, particularly those affiliated with the militant group Hezbollah and its a

Can China replace US hegemony in the Middle East?

The recent visit of China's President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia to attend the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit consolidated ties between Beijing and Gulf states. The visit also laid the foundations for a partnership that might concern the United States and its allies. However, it is still unlikely that China would be able to replace American hegemony in the region. Xi visited Riyadh for a three-day trip, where he attended several meetings with leaders from Gulf and Arab count

A new challenge: Lebanon's maritime dispute with Syria

As soon as Lebanon signed what officials and the media called a ‘historic deal’ with Israel over maritime borders, a new challenge resurfaced in the north of the country. The agreement rekindled a sea boundary dispute with Syria which emerged last year after Damascus granted a licence to a Russian energy company, Kapital, to begin maritime explorations in an area Lebanon claims as its own. Although from a technical standpoint the dispute could be resolved by diplomats, the issue carries politi

Lebanon's currency crisis: New exchange rate policy to cause massive hardship | DW | 13.10.2022

Lina Boubess, 62, hasn't missed any protests since Lebanon's economic and financial crisis erupted in October 2019. Although she gained the title of "Mother of the Revolution" because of her constant participation in every anti-government protest in Beirut, Boubess told DW that her life changed dramatically over the last three years, and she became a full-time activist to support the next generation. "Before the economic crisis, I could afford to travel abroad every month. I used to have a lux

Italian court will hear appeal against decree limiting use of flowers and leaves

A request to hear an appeal against Italy’s decree on officinal plants has been accepted by the Regional Administrative Court (TAR) of Lazio. The decision means the ministers who issued the decree must provide the documentation that led them to take the decision to exclude hemp leaves and flowers from the legislation, which covers herbs and drugs commonly used as medicines. ... Do you want to read more? The data or analysis report you have tried to access is restricted to our subscribers. We i

The race for Lebanon's next president

The new parliament formed in May is preparing to elect the next president of the Lebanese Republic, who will be in charge for the next six years. President Michel Aoun is expected to leave office by 31st October, and the election of a new president represents a crucial test bed for political parties to gauge alliances and outline the political direction of the country. By convention, the president of Lebanon is a Christian Maronite, and the main responsibility is to serve as a symbol of the na

Why Lebanon's capital controls law is causing unrest

On 30 August, a joint parliamentary committee in Lebanon postponed discussions over a controversial capital controls law that would limit the flow of foreign capital in and out of the country. The proposed law is the latest of several versions passed by the parliament over the last year, but the body has now suspended its discussions until the government settles on a fully-fledged reform plan. It aims to legalise and standardise banking restrictions put in place at the beginning of the economi

Italy facing a turn back to the right?

Italian citizens have been called to vote in general elections on 25th September to elect a new Parliament following the resignation of prime minister Mario Draghi on 21st July. Polls currently show a broadly right-wing coalition as the favoured bloc for forming the next government, with many reporting a lead of around 20%. ... Do you want to read more? The data or analysis report you have tried to access is restricted to our subscribers. We invite you to take a free trial below where you will

Lebanon turns to solar power to address acute energy crisis | DW | 17.08.2022

When Patrick Ardahalian moved from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon in 2010, he was shocked at the frequent power outages in the country's capital, Beirut. "Power outages are something I had never experienced," he said. But for the Lebanese people, the situation was different, he added. "They never experienced stable electricity in their life." To address the country's energy crisis, Ardahalian, who is of Lebanese origin but grew up in Greece, decided to pick up solar power. "Lebanon is a very sunny c
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