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Kurdish Authorities in Syria’s Northeast Report 1st Coronavirus Death

Asharq Al-Awsat April 17, 2020

The Kurdish-led administration that runs much of northeastern Syria said it had recorded its first death from the new coronavirus, according to a statement on Friday in which it cited the World Health Organization.

In the statement, the regional administration said a 53-year-old man had died at a hospital in Qamishli on April 2 and that a sample was sent to Damascus and tested positive for COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the coronavirus.

But it said health authorities in the northeast had not initially been made aware of the results.

An official at the …

ISRAEL PULSE Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc starts cracking

By: Mazal Mualem.AL-MONITOR, April 17, 2020

“I don’t know where you are taking us,” hissed Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a harsh conversation they recently conducted. Al-Monitor received this information, on condition of anonymity, from a high-placed Likud minister in whom Deri confided.

Deri, the key mediator between Netanyahu and Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz, encouraged the sides to form a ‘”unity coronavirus government” as soon as possible. The second go-between was No. 2 in Blue and White, former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who in fact conducted the initial contacts with Deri. …

Lebanon’s austerity plan offers no real reforms

By: DR. DANIA KOLEILAT KHATIB.Arab News, April, 14, 2020

The Lebanese government this week leaked its long-awaited “reform plan,” which is supposed to form the basis for its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and international donors. The plan is well drafted with technical and professional language and it has many figures, numbers and charts that are guaranteed to impress at first sight. However, it is an austerity plan, where the average citizen will bear the brunt of bailing out the country while existing politicians get a free pass.

At the outset, the plan states some realities that have long …

Lebanese Armed Forces must act against Hezbollah to retain America’s military aid

By: Bradley Bowman.Defense News, April, 1, 2020

As Lebanon struggles with an economic crisis and the new coronavirus pandemic, momentum is building in Washington to curtail or end U.S. assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Such a move could diminish U.S. influence and empower Russia and Iran. But the LAF is not helping its advocates to make their case. The Lebanese military must address Hezbollah’s growing arsenal if the LAF is to retain U.S. support.

The United States has fostered close ties with the LAF for years “as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty.” Pentagon leaders laud it as a capable partner. …

Last Polls Before Election: Arab Party Grows Stronger, Gantz and Netanyahu Neck and Neck

HaaretzFeb. 28, 2020

With three days to election, polls show right-wing bloc maintaining momentum with 56-58 seats, while center-left bloc and the Joint List projected to garner together 56-57 seats.

With three days left until Israelis head to the polls for the third time this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan are predicted to tie at 33 Knesset seats each, according to two election polls published Friday by Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, i24NEWS and Maagar Mochot and Channel 13 News.

According to these surveys, Netanyahu’s party lead over Gantz’s outfit in the previous …

Lebanon Faces a $50 Billion Hole Even Beyond Its Eurobonds

By: Paul Wallace.Bloomberg, Feb. 26, 2020

Lebanon has a lot more than just maturing Eurobonds to worry about.

In addition to $31 billion of those, the Middle Eastern nation’s central bank has $52.5 billion of obligations in the form of foreign-currency deposits and certificates of deposit, according to calculations by Toby Iles and Jan Friederich, Hong Kong-based analysts at Fitch Ratings Ltd.

Mostly owed to Lebanese banks, these additional liabilities compound the country’s woes as it grapples with its deepest economic crisis in decades. They also complicate a potential debt restructuring by the government, which on Tuesday confirmed it had hired Lazard Ltd. and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton …

China’s passenger car sales tumble 92% in first half of Feb due to virus outbreak

The Business Times REUTERS, FEB. 21, 2020

Retail sales of China’s passenger car crumbled 92 per cent on an annual basis in the first 16 days of February, according to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), as the coronavirus outbreak slammed the brakes on businesses across the country.

China’s passenger vehicle sales recorded 4,909 units in the first 16 days, down from 59,930 vehicles a year earlier, data from CPCA showed.

“Very few dealerships are opening in the first weeks of February and they have very little customer traffic,” it said. REUTERS