World Cash-strapped Lebanon signs fuel deal with Iraq to ease crisis
Lebanon-Hariri renounces forming a government, the crisis worsens
Lebanon - crisis / (photo, TV): Lebanon-Hariri gives up to form a government, the crisis worsens (repetition of a dispatch published Thursday , Adds Us) by Maha El Dahan and Laila Bassam Beirut, July 16 (Reuters) - Saad Hariri said Thursday he renounced to form a government in Lebanon because of insurmountable disagreements, in his eyes, with the President Michel Aoun, extending a political impasse that aggravates the financial and social crisis in which the country has been plunged for months.
Iraq has signed an agreement allowing the cash-strapped Lebanese government to pay for 1 million tonnes of heavy fuel oil a year in goods and services, helping Lebanon ease its acute power shortage, the two sides said on Saturday.
Lebanon is in the throes of an economic meltdown threatening its stability. It has all but run down foreign reserves and faces a growing shortage of fuel, medicine and other basic goods. Most Lebanese face power cuts for many hours a day.
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Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Allawi and Lebanese caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar co-signed the agreement in the presence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Lebanese officials have said the Iraqi supplies will ease the situation at home.
Ghajar, speaking on his return to Beirut after signing the deal, said the fuel would be used for electricity generation and was enough for four months. He said it was worth about $300m to $400m.
Iraq’s Oil Ministry said in a statement it would supply Lebanon with surplus heavy fuel oil from its refineries.
Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis since its 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
The country, which has struggled to meet electricity demand at the best of times, has imposed increasingly long power cuts across the nation as fuel supplies have run short during the crisis that erupted in late 2019.
Coalition says Iraq base housing US troops hit in drone attack
No casualties in attack days before meeting between Iraq PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi and US President Joe Biden in Washington.Local media said the attack targeted a base near al-Harir, 70km (45 miles) northeast of Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Many Lebanese rely on private generators that use diesel, which is also in short supply.
A shortage of foreign currency had made it impossible for Lebanon to secure fuel and other essential goods.
Hospitals said this week their generators were at risk of running out of fuel, putting critical patients at risk.
On Saturday, a top hospital director warned that the deepening economic crisis has piled pressure on hospitals, leaving them ill-equipped to face any new wave of the coronavirus.
“All hospitals… are now less prepared than they were during the wave at the start of the year,” said Firass Abiad, the manager of the largest public hospital in the country battling COVID.
“Medical and nursing staff have left, medicine that was once available has run out,” and ever-lengthening cuts to the mains power supply have left hospitals under constant threat.
Even the Rafik Hariri University Hospital he runs has been struggling to cope.
“We only get two to three hours of mains electricity, and for the rest of the time it’s up to the generators,” Abiad told AFP news agency.
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