Syrian shop owners pose for a photo in Barr Elias, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (The Daily Star/Elise Knusten)
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Handwritten notices, sealed with red wax, dot the handles of shop shutters along the main commercial hub of Bar Elias, a stark sign of a recent crackdown by Lebanese authorities on Syrian-owned or -managed businesses in the Bekaa Valley.Antoine Sleiman, the governor of the Bekaa Valley, confirmed that "hundreds" of Syrian-run businesses lacking proper permits had recently been closed across the region.According to one Beirut-based lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous, it is almost impossible for Syrians to obtain the proper paperwork to open a business.In Bar Elias, however, many Syrians said their shops were closed despite having the proper paperwork.Like many Syrians who want to open a store in Lebanon, Tamha had a Lebanese partner. The paperwork, he said, is in the Lebanese man's name. Syrian refugee Khaldoun also had a Lebanese partner to co-sign the paperwork for his small restaurant. It's not only Syrians who have been caught up in the crackdown.Last week, however, a Lebanese official appeared at the shop and told Houla he had three days to register his business, or it would be closed down.
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