As Lebanon’s economy unravels, dollar bills and connections pay off

[Published here September 7, 2021]

Ibrahim al-Masri wipes sweat from his brow as he queues behind two dozen other cars outside a Beirut gas station. It could take hours to replenish his depleted tank – but with no spare cash to bribe the pump attendant, all he can do is wait.

As Lebanon’s deepening economic crisis causes shortages of basic goods including fuel, medicine and even bread, a privileged few are finding ways to beat the queues and rationing by wielding personal connections, or wads of banknotes.

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Iraq gets US sanctions break to keep the lights on | AFP

[Written with my colleague Ammar Karim and published here on November 8, 2018]

Iraq has won an exemption allowing it to buy Iranian electricity despite US sanctions, as the country plagued by chronic power shortages walks a tightrope between rivals Washington and Tehran.

With US measures imposed Monday taking aim at Iran’s banking and energy industries, there were concerns Iraq — which heavily relies on its eastern neighbour for electricity and consumer goods — would be caught in the crossfire.

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