• Hasan Nassr Zubaidi

Simplified- Protests In Lebanon: a success or a pending disaster?

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Thousands of Lebanese citizens are piling onto the streets, protesting against their government and demanding their immediate resignation.

Due to economic instability, poor life quality and governmental neglect, protesters across the country have finally broken their silence, beginning a revolution that many thought was long overdue.

Already, many members of the government have resigned from their positions, however, Lebanese citizens continue their protests, in hopes of changing their country's fate once and for all.

Firstly let’s look at what triggered this “revolution.”

Why are citizens protesting in Lebanon?

Years of inefficiency, waste, corruption and financial mismanagement have thrown Lebanon into a deep hole of national debt, crippling their economy. The government's failure to provide solutions for this economic crisis has acted as fuel behind the recent revolution.

Many became restless with the Lebanese government who have disregarded their democratic system by being in power for upwards of 25 years.

However, the final straw was talk of introducing taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online calls. This riled up citizens who were already lacking basic services including: water, electricity, sanitation (much of their waste was thrown on the streets.) These citizens would not be able to afford the additional taxes due to poverty and the prevalent economic crisis.

-Tripoli/Troublous, Northern Lebanon. 2nd Biggest City in Lebanon.

Even though Lebanon's economy has been struggling for a while, their recent economic crash has been especially detrimental. Their GDP per capita hit its lowest since 2008, and they are considered the 3rd highest indebted country worldwide. This left no room for infrastructural advancements or other necessary developments.

Protesters accused the government of squandering the little money that Lebanon had to use, resulting in the unemployment of 37% of adolescents, and sending the country into a financial crisis.

Additionally, inequality is very prevalent in Lebanon. The top 1% of the population’s richest receive ¼ of the national income. This leaves the bottom 50% with less than 10% of the total national income.

These reasons combined encouraged the nation’s people to go to the streets and protest.

How are people protesting?

On October 17th, protesters gathered in downtown Beirut, blocking the most vital streets. They assembled in popular squares, carrying anti-governmental signs and Lebanese flags.

They yelled through crowded streets, demanding an end to corruption in Lebanon.

They stated to reporters and on social media that they 'would not endure living like dogs in their own country.'

The minister of telecommunications, Mohamed Choucair, announced that the tax on online calls, such as “whats app” would be terminated as a result of the escalating protests.

On October 18th, political offices were stormed by protesters, and others attempted to reach the parliament building but were obstructed when security forces resorted to tear gas and violence.

In response, protesters blocked many streets in Lebanon with burning tires and trash cans.

Lebanese student missing school to protest against the Lebanese government.

On the morning of October 29, Hezbollah and Amal supporters allegedly, attacked protesters in Beirut and set fire to their tents and beat them with plastic chairs. Leading to military intervention.

What did these protests result in?

To the avail of protesters around Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a speech, and Lebanese Forces (who held 4 very crucial seats in parliament) resigned from the cabinet. This encouraged Lebanese protesters to continue with their demonstrations.

Protests continued, receiving teargas by the Lebanese military and forcing Lebanon's President (Micheal Aoun) to formally address the escalating situation.

On October 31, President Micheal Aoun delivered a speech, in which he spoke about his commitment to eradicate corruption in Lebanon, and ensuring political stability. He also acknowledged the economic crisis and the arrival of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which caused unrest for the already densely-populated, and economically unstable country. He then proceeded to urge all protesters to go home, which angered protesters greatly.

Many organizations fear the recent power vacuum that is being created, so Hassan Nassrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, stated that his organization would start the process of inducting a new Prime Minister.

What's happening now?

During the 3rd consecutive Sunday of the protests, protesters gathered in what they called the “Sunday of Unity,” filling the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and Tyre.

Many streets were blocked with burning tires, trash cans, and the incredible number of protesters assembled. Attacks on Beirut protesters were conducted, however the authorities still haven't tracked down the perpetrators.

The Lebanese bank has also been closed since early on in the protests.

The most recent event as of the 13th of November has been the killing of a local political party official by a soldier in southern Beirut, becoming the first casualty of Lebanon’s nearly month-long protest movement.

The first casualty during the Lebanese revolution.

After all these protests, despite the countless achievements that have been made, Lebanon’s economy still remains in ruins and their country’s democracy has yet to be restored. This continues to fuel protesters’ anger, leading to a continuation of violent protests throughout the country.

Sources Cited:

“Lebanon Protests: 'I Feel Proud to Be Lebanese'.” BBC News, BBC, 23 Oct. 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-middle-east-50160422/lebanon-protests-i-feel-proud-to-be-lebanese.

Azhari, Timour. “Hassan Nasrallah: Corruption Investigators Should 'Start with Us'.” News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 11 Nov. 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/hasan-nasrallah-corruption-investigations-start-191111170737535.html.

Al Jazeera. “Man Killed as Tensions Flare in Lebanon after Aoun Interview.” News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 13 Nov. 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/man-killed-tensions-flare-lebanon-aoun-interview-191113053428245.html.

Al Jazeera. “Lebanon Protests: All the Latest Updates.” News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 22 Oct. 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/lebanon-protests-latest-updates-191022065629885.html.

#Tripoli Volunteers Take The #TrashChallenge but What's Next?” Blog Baladi, https://blogbaladi.com/tripoli-volunteers-take-the-trashchallenge-but-whats-next/.

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