Lebanon news updates for Tuesday September 8

Syrian children walk amid the dust during a sandstorm on September 7, 2015 at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek.
Syrian children walk amid the dust during a sandstorm on September 7, 2015 at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek.

Here are the latest updates on current issues in Lebanon.

“unprecedented” Sandstorm
A sandstorm that hit Lebanon Monday afternoon , led to 160 cases of asphyxiation in the northern and eastern parts of the country. The Lebanese Red Cross called on citizens who have asthma to stay indoors.

The Meteorological Department at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport described the storm as “unprecedented” in Lebanon’s modern history and said the storm, coming from Iraq, will continue throughout the day with chances of rain in the northern Bekaa Valley around midday. The storm is expected to subside Wednesday.

The health ministry went on alert due to the sandstorm, urging those suffering respiratory problems to stay indoors.

The health ministry reported 750 cases of respiratory problems.

The death toll in lebanon and Syria   as a result of the sandstorm  has reached  12, according to Al Jazeera

National News Agency (NNA) said the northern Lebanese district of Akkar was hit the hardest.

The storm also hit Jordan, Israel and Egypt. In Jordan, schools shut down or cut their days short.

In neighbouring Syria, the sandstorm affected the area of al-Mayadeen in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour on Monday. Hospitals there scrambled to attend to patients suffering from breathing problems.

The storm also reached the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Homs where five children reportedly died in al-Houla.

People swim at the public beach of Ramlet al Baida during a sandstorm in Beirut [AP]
People swim at the public beach of Ramlet al Baida during a sandstorm in Beirut [AP]
The pro-government Syrian Al-Watan newspaper says it forced the government to halt its air strikes against rebel fighters in the rebel-held areas in the north and centre of the country.

Activist Hadi al-Abdallah, in the northern province of Idlib, confirmed there were no strikes on the northern suburbs, which are usually bombarded on a daily basis.

“That’s the worst sandstorm I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t [see an] object just five metres away. Most people stayed indoors,” he told Al Jazeera.


MP Marwan Hamadeh commented to VOL (100.5) radio station about the possibility of reopening the Naameh landfill:
“The reopening of the Naameh landfill would not be discussed if three or four other landfills were not made available.”

Denmark tells refugees in ads “Don’t come here”

Denmark’s publication of anti-migrant ads in Lebanese newspapers has prompted some Arab readers to say it “doesn’t think about the humanitarian side” of the Syria war.
The ads first appeared in the As Safir, An Nahar, and Daily Star newspapers on Monday (7 September).
The ads discourage people from seeking asylum in Denmark.

Budget Deficit  $1.3 Billion

Lebanon posted a budget deficit  of $1.32 billion in the first seven months of 2015 compared to a surplus of $131 million in the same period last year, according  the Central Bank.

The balance of payments posted a surplus of $2.4 million in July 2015 compared to deficits of $794.3 million in June 2015 and of $84.7 million in July 2014 as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of Byblos Bank.

Lebanon is the Arab world’s most indebted nation .  Lebanon plans to raise $1.3 billion in Eurobonds, tapping international markets for a second time this year

You stink protests

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq  said at the Middle East Security Conference:

“The civil society  launched a siren which was  heard by everyone. There is no no way out from this crisis unless we resort back to the constitution.”

Presidential deadlock

French president Hollande  who plans to visit Lebanon after attending UN General Assembly in NY told  LBCI:

“The answer to the presidential deadlock lies with the Lebanese.”

Assir arrest warrant 

Judge Najat Abu Shakra issued an arrest warrant against  Salafist sheikh Ahmad al-Assir for forming sleeper cells in Sidon and plotting the assassination of religious, political and military personalities.

Dialogue Sessions Doomed
Wednesday’s dialogue session appears doomed as sources of the March 8 alliance say they are adamant to elect MP Michel Aoun “and no other,” or hold early parliamentary elections.

Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement head to the dialogue session with a “unified stance” to either consensually elect Aoun or kick off parliamentary elections that will later elect a president, well informed March 8 sources told Asharq al-Awsat daily.

The sources stressed that “any other talks on a consensual candidate other than Aoun will be strictly unacceptable by Hezbollah and the FPM.”

Only the Lebanese Forces have so far announced officially that it would boycott the talks.

But according to the Pro Hezebollah al-Akhbar daily , Future Movement bloc leader former PM Fouad Siniora rejected Hariri’s decision to take part in the dialogue, before an agreement beforehand is reached on the priority to elect a president.

Analysts predicting that Hezbollah and its March 8 allies will push most for a proportional electoral law with the aim of securing several Sunni seats in the new parliament and thereby weakening the March 14 alliance . For this reason analysts are predicting the March 14 alliance will oppose the proportional law