A deadly explosion in Lebanon on August 4, shook the interest of Lebanese people in an already unstable government. For the past couple of days, ruthless anti-government protests have expressed how people felt about the handling of crises in the country. Ministers resigned under the pressure which was mounting on a daily basis. Eventually, it led the entire Lebanese government to leave the scene.
Several politicians including the finance minister who was responsible for negotiating a financial rescue plan for Lebanon with IMF has quit the job. Recently, Hassan Diab, the Prime Minister resigned as well. Lebanese Government was already on the verge of collapse.
Explosion In Lebanon Makes Country More Unstable
At least 163 people were killed after the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. According to new updates, more than 6,000 people are still injured. The economic and political failure of Lebanon has been intensified with this blast. Protestors have strongly reproached the government elite for regularizing corruption across Lebanon.
The devastating explosion destroyed the crucial port of a country that heavily relies on food imports. According to the 2019 reports, 85% of Lebanon’s food came through imports which were worth 20 million USD. It was widely predicted that such dependency on food imports will ultimately cause food insecurity, and now this incident occurred that too in a port city, making things more miserable for the economy.
This prompted many nations to send aid to Lebanon because of its faulty food security and poor economic growth. For a country that consumes more than it produces, the blast has worsened the economic access to food items.
Reportedly, emergency international donor conference was held on 9th August that raised nearly 298 million USD. Given the monstrous history of corruption, donors demand full transparency of their humanitarian efforts.
The Government Quits Amidst the Rising Protests
Last protest happened in October 2019 over the economic crises caused by the rampant corruption. However the latest protests in several cities of Lebanon have been the biggest ever in the country. The PM resigned by blaming the blast of corruption. It is the integral corruption of Lebanese officials that has now exploded in their own faces.
Reportedly, security officials warned the PM and the President last month about haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate. They stated that if the fertilizer was ignited it would destroy the whole capital. Still, the actions were not taken. At least 20 cabinet ministers and 7 parliament members resigned Before PM Hassan Diab announced his resignation. President Michel Aoun will be forced to choose a new PM while Diab will remain as a caretaker.
But Who Actually Has Political Power?
Number of protestors spoke to the media about how politics and corruption have ruined everything in Lebanon. Hundreds of people took to the streets and condemned the government in distinctive ways. Some made cut out posters of Hezbollah leaders and depicted to hang them publically for their crimes under the blanket of politicization.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets but they were welcomed by stones and fireworks from the protestors. They even returned the tear gas grenades back to the police in an act of defiance.
It was not enough for the protestors to get rid of the government when the most dominant political actor will remain active in the country i.e. Hezbollah. Lebanese people will struggle to recover from the scale of losses for a very long time.
It is internationally requested to avoid politicizing the issue in Lebanon because the situation is very complicated and people don’t need to be distracted from the humanitarian crises that have erupted after the explosion in Lebanon. It was also requested from the US to lift the limitations against Lebanon. Although the devastating blast secured new international emergency assistance, it is still short of saving Lebanon from the bigger economic challenge stemming from the politics and corruption of the political elite.
To fight their entrenched issues, Lebanon might consider changing the system from the root. Hezbollah might not be exclusively responsible for Lebanon’s crises but it can hinder some long term reforms as long as it continues to implement unaccountable militia which is also heavily armed.