Social media users vented their anger at the Lebanese authorities on Thursday after CNN mocked what it called Beirut’s river of trash in a Mount Lebanon town.

“Congratulations on the new fame! (Lebanon) is the best country in the world,” a woman said on her Facebook account after sharing the video of the CNN report.

“It’s nice … We are stinking everywhere! Our smell has become international,” said another man.

“You have disgraced us and disgraced the country,” another angry social media user wrote on his Facebook page.

The river of garbage bags snakes its way through a street in Jdeideh that lies north of Beirut.

The landfill, which stretches for hundreds of meters through the town, is the result of the eight-month-long trash crisis.

“To all our great Lebanese politicians thanks for making international news for all the wrong reasons,” a man wrote on Twitter.

“We made the news, now they are working on the Guinness book record,” another angry citizen tweeted.

Lebanon’s waste management crisis erupted in July last year when the country’s largest landfill that used to receive the waste of Beirut and Mount Lebanon was closed.

Following the closure of the Naameh landfill, garbage began piling up on the streets of the capital and Mount Lebanon.

Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, who was in charge of the garbage file, proposed decentralization to resolve the crisis.

His plan was dropped by the government after it approved a scheme to export the waste.

But it turned out that the company, which had been tasked with exporting the trash to Russia, had forged the permits.

Following the scandal, the authorities were left without a plan, with some officials calling for decentralization and allowing municipalities to collect and treat their own waste.

Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) spokeswoman Mona Kalot said there was no backup plan in place.

“We don’t have a solution, but they’re working on something else,” she told CNN.
Salam Speaks of ‘Progress’ in Trash File after ‘Facilitations’ Offered by some Sides

Prime Minister Tammam Salam revealed on Thursday that progress has been made in resolving the country’s ongoing trash disposal crisis.

He credited this progress to “facilitations made by some sides over certain issues.”

He made his remarks during a cabinet session held at the Grand Serail.

No further details were made about the garbage crisis, but the premier said the “positive result” will emerge in the upcoming days.

The cabinet also tackled the deterioration of ties between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia after the kingdom halted its aid grant to the Lebanese army last week.

Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said after the government meeting: “Salam hoped that ministers would pay attention to their political stances in wake of cabinet’s declaration on Monday of its commitment to Arab consensus.”

“The government is doing its utmost to rectify the situation with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states,” he stressed.

Saudi Arabia halted the aid in protest against Hizbullah’s harsh criticism against the kingdom and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil’s abstention to vote in favor of Arab League resolutions condemning an attack against Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in January.

Hizbullah has been very vocal in blaming Saudi Arabia for the unrest in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia consequently issued travel advisories against Lebanon.

Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have also followed suit and issued similar warnings.


Fears over Closure of Karantina Dumpster Threaten Capital
by Naharnet Newsdesk

Lebanon’s capital will likely once again witness the piling of garbage on its streets if a substitute for the Karantina dumpster, which reached its maximum capacity, is not found, al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday.

February 24 is the deadline when the waste contractor for Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon Sukleen will stop removing the trash from the streets after the disposal ground began to run out of space, as per Sukleen officials.

The company said that two weeks ago it has sent a letter to Governor of Beirut Ziad Shbib informing him that the location which receives the waste of Beirut is flooded but received no feedback from his part.

Since the eruption of the July 2015 trash crisis, Sukleen has been cleaning the streets of Beirut and stacking the garbage in Karantina, awaiting a government agreement on a solution for the crisis.

Communications Director at Sukleen, Pascale Nassar told the daily that the company has not received any notice from the Governor on a substitute location. “Therefore we will stop removing garbage on Feb. 24.”

After contacts with Shbib’s office, the daily said it was informed that the Governor has sent a letter to the Council for Development and Reconstruction on February 20 asking it to “expand the capacity of the current space on the property number 1343 in al-Mdawwar parallel with efforts to find another location to store the garbage.”

Sukleen sources said that since the eruption of the crisis, the company has been sending letters to related authorities informing them of the quantities of garbage it has been collecting and the areas that can still accommodate. But the “concerned authorities were not interested because the export plan was supposed to kick off before February 24,” they said.

For his part, Shbib told the Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) later on Tuesday: “I reassure the citizens that there will be no garbage piling on the streets of Beirut after the set date. We hope that the quick solution is found for the trash crisis.”

A trash management crisis erupted in July 2015 following the closure of the Naameh landfill that receives the waste of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

Sukleen and Mount Lebanon municipalities had to find alternatives and have therefore disposed of the waste in makeshift dumps inside populated areas and forests.

A plan to export Lebanon’s garbage has been abandoned early this week when a scandal broke out revealing that Britain’s Chinook Urban Mining company, which was selected by the government in December to manage the export scheme, may have fabricated its permits.