Friday, 27 June 2008

Quilty vs Young

Jim Quilty, one of the finest journalists working in Lebanon, has got himself in a very public row with Micheal Young, one of the worst type of paid-and-bought-for hacks to visit our shores.

Young took offence when Quilty took him to task over his latest sectarian rants about Shia Muslims in Lebanon.

Read their exchange in Middle East Online.

Read Quilty's Lebanon’s Brush with Civil War.

And for a taste of Young's "insights" have a look at Left, Right, and Wrong (where he happily quotes Nick Cohen—Britain's number one hater of everthing Arab).


The BBC's Mike Sergeant writes:

People rarely talk openly about torture in Lebanon; even the victims are reluctant to speak out, much less seek treatment.

But a new centre in Beirut is trying to help those who have suffered at the hands of vicious interrogators and ruthless prison guards.

The centre has only been open a few months, but the specialists employed here say they are already seeing positive results.

Lebanon signed up to an international convention against torture in 2000, and in recent years legislation has given victims greater legal protection.

But according to human rights organisations, forms of torture are still widely practised.

Union action

Al-Akhbar newspaper reports that the General Labour Union will hold a protest at the government's failure to deal with the hike in bread and fuel prices.

The call for action comes after the price of bread hit LL2000 (£1) — see story below. The union federation is concerned abut the continuing impoverishment of workers in Lebanon, the rate of unemployment and rampant inflation.

More bread for bread

Lebanese consumers face a 20 percent hike in the price of bread, reports Jessica Naimeh. But this will be offset by an increase in subsidies:

"The economy ministry announced Thursday that, effective Friday, an increase in government subsidies will lower the price charged to bakers for a ton of flour from $250 to between $200 and $220.

"The move was designed to bring the sale price of 1,250 grams of Arabic-style flat bread back down to LL1,500 after a day at LL2,000 (£1)."

Bank charge

Emirates 24/7 notes the latest banking aquisition:

Emirates Lebanon Bank, a fully-owned subsidiary of Bank of Sharjah, and BNP Paribas said they have filed for regulatory approval in relation with their contemplated partnership in Lebanon.

As per agreements, which remain subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Lebanon, the Abu Dhabi-listed bank will acquire through its Lebanese subsidiary, Emirates Lebanon Bank (previously Banque de la Bekaa), and the activities of the Lebanese branch of Banque Nationale de Paris Intercontinentale, a fully-owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas.

Emirates Lebanon Bank will be 81 per cent-owned by Bank of Sharjah with BNPI France holding the balance of 19 per cent.

Financial details of the planned deal were not disclosed. A collaboration agreement between the Lebanese bank and BNP Paribas at the level of private banking and asset management is being considered.

Through this acquisition by Emirates Lebanon Bank, clients will be able to benefit from a continuing relationship with their bank as well as an enhanced offering of products and services.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Dangerous north

Al Jazeera on the clashes in Tripoli, north Lebanon.

LBC interviews heavily armed Sunni fighters, and partisans from the Alawites.

Reuters has the latest:

Sectarian fighting raged for a second day in north Lebanon on Monday, further denting a Qatari-brokered deal to end the country's political crisis.

Security sources said six people have been killed and 48 wounded in the clashes in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city.

The fighting, which broke out at dawn on Sunday, continued on the outskirts of the mainly Sunni Muslim port city despite a ceasefire agreement between Sunni supporters of the government and Alawite gunmen close to the Hezbollah-led opposition.

Several homes, shops and cars were damaged in fighting around the Sunni Bab Tibbaneh district and Alawite Jabal Mohsen.

The warring sides exchanged machinegun fire, grenades and mortar bombs. Scores of families fled and sought safe haven in other parts of the city and nearby villages.

Tripoli is dominated by Lebanon's anti-Syrian Sunni-led majority coalition while a majority of Alawites have close ties to Syria, which is ruled by an Alawite and is allied to the opposition.

Alawites are a small offshoot of Shi'ite Islam which dominates the Baathist government in neighbouring Syria. Their numbers are small in Lebanon but they gained some political clout during Syria's military presence in Lebanon.