Tensions continue to grow in Lebanon following the dramatic collapse of the Lebanese lira early last week, prompting people to take to the streets and protest the government’s inaction. The country is teetering on the brink of explosion, warns Middle East expert Ghassan Kadi, weighing up the possible scenarios of how the situation may unfold.
On 9 March, anti-government protesters in Lebanon set up new roadblocks and lit tyres on fire amid demonstrations over the government’s inability to tackle the economic crisis and crippling poverty. On Monday, the three main roads from Zouk, Jal el-Dib, and al-Dawra to the capital Beirut were closed by demonstrators.
Previously, protests – dubbed the Tax Intifada or the WhatsApp Revolution – shattered the Middle Eastern state in October 2019. The uprising eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. His successor, Hassan Diab, started talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to receive a $10 billion loan to pull the country back from the economic abyss. However, on 4 August 2020 a massive blast destroyed the country’s biggest port exacerbating the economic situation even further.
Lebanon’s Economy is in Free Fall
In the aftermath of the August 2020 explosion, French President Emmanuel Macron stepped forward urging Beirut to implement a “new political order”. On the surface, the French initiative has thus far failed, according to Ghassan Kadi, a Middle East expert, blogger, and political analyst.