LebanonMiddle East

Lebanese banks open to customers again as life returns to normalcy

Lebanese banks on Friday reopened their doors to customers for the first time in two weeks as the people’s lives start to get back to normal after an unprecedented wave of protests that made Prime Minister Saad Hariri resign.

Despite the two-week hiatus, the number of customers entering major banks was relatively small, according to Reuters’ witnesses.

Life is returning to normalcy in Lebanon after almost two weeks of huge protests against the ruling elite, which finally forced Hariri to resign on Tuesday.

The resignation has somehow eased the protests, but has not been enough to send demonstrators back home, as people have continued their rallies mainly in major squares of the Lebanese cities.

In Thursday demonstrations in Riad al-Solh Square in the heart of downtown Beirut, protesters set fire on the Israeli flag and chanted ‘Death to Israel’.

A few days ago, Saudi-owned Al-Hadath TV claimed that the Lebanese people had been chanting slogans against the Islamic Republic of Iran as well, but facts on the ground reveal it’s just another piece of fake news.

On its Twitter account, the Saudi channel posted a photo of a Lebanese protester with the country’s flag on which a slogan reads “Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen are Arabs, not Iranians; Get out, Iranian mercenaries.”

However, the original photo shows no such slogan and reveals the Saudi network has manipulated the image in a bid to provoke anti-Iran sentiments.

US withholding $105mn in aid for Lebanon

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly decided to withhold $105 million in aid for Lebanon despite the ongoing unrest and the ailing economy of the Arab country.

The State Department told Congress on Thursday that the White House budget office and National Security Council had decided to withhold the foreign military assistance, two US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The officials did not say why the aid was blocked. One of the sources said the State Department did not give Congress a reason for the decision.

The decision comes as the US administration had earlier described the aid as crucial for Lebanon to protect its borders.

One US official told Reuters he believed the security assistance was necessary for Lebanon, as it struggles with instability not just within its own government but in a turbulent region and houses thousands of refugees from war in neighboring Syria.

Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over the growing role in the Beirut government of the Hezbollah resistance movement, a key party in the Lebanese parliament and government.

Fully aware of Hezbollah’s key role in the Lebanese economy, however, Washington has imposed sanctions against a number of lawmakers, officials, and bodies linked to the movement.

PressTV-Hezbollah: New sanctions widen US assault on Lebanon

Hezbollah: New sanctions widen US assault on LebanonHezbollah says new US sanctions against three of its officials, including two MPs, have widened Washington’s assault on Lebanon.

Some 50 Hezbollah individuals and entities have been blacklisted by the Treasury since 2017.

In May last year, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Hezbollah leadership jointly with members of the so-called Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. 

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