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CIC National Capital (Ottawa): Lebanon: Where to From Here? (Webinar)
October 13 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EDTFree
Please join the CIC National Capital Branch’s Middle East Study Group at this event featuring Dr. Michael Atallah
Lebanon’s current crisis can be traced back to October 2019 when a shortage of foreign currency led to the loss of value of the Lira. With importers of critical supplies increasingly wanting to be paid in US dollars, the Lebanese government proposed a tax on WhatsApp usage to boost revenues. This triggered major cross-sectarian protests and led to the resignation of the cabinet followed by the installation of an emergency technocratic government in December. In March, for the first time in its history, Lebanon defaulted on a US $1.2 billion payment for foreign bonds. Lebanon’s currency has lost some 80 percent of its value while banking restrictions continue to limit the amount of currency citizens can withdraw. On 4 August, 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded at Lebanon’s Beirut port killing over 190 and wounding thousands of Lebanese. The resulting outrage and popular discontent led to the resignation of the emergency government of Hassan Diab in mid-August and the selection of another technocratic Prime Minister, Mustapha Adib, Lebanon’s ambassador in Germany. Amid additional fires at the port and a series of violent incidents, Lebanon continues to endure electricity rationing of more than 16 hours per day due to shortage of fuel. Meanwhile, despite the recent global goodwill, the international community is not rushing to bail out what it perceives as a corrupt political class. Lebanon’s predatory elite seem unwilling to undertake the necessary reforms that would allow them to successfully negotiate an IMF loan to kick-start Lebanon’s failing economy.
Michael Atallah is a Senior Middle East Analyst at the Privy Council Office with a specialization on the Levant and the Persian Gulf. Atallah also worked on the Middle East Peace Process at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Before that, Atallah was at the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) facilitating sustainable human development in Arab countries. Atallah holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and an MA from the University of London King’s College in the Department of War Studies. He is also a graduate (BSc) of McGill University in Montreal. Atallah has extensively traveled and lived in the Middle East. Atallah frequently lectures on history and politics of the Middle East at universities and in public venues and is a periodic adjunct professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA).
Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 October 2020.