News ID: 260976
Published: 0316 GMT November 01, 2019

Lebanon banks open again as life returns to normal

Lebanon banks open again as life returns to normal
AFP
Lebanese police keep watch outside a bank in Beirut on November 1, 2019 as the country's banks reopen for the first time in two weeks.

Lebanese banks on Friday opened their doors to customers for the first time in two weeks as life started to get back to normal after an unprecedented wave of protests that made Prime Minister Saad Hariri step down on Tuesday.

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

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

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

 

US withholding $105m in aid 

 

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 Parliament of Lebanon 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.

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 UAE.

 

   
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Resource: Reuters
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