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Tags Current Affairs

Unrest in Lebanon

Date: 12 August 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The catastrophic Beirut blasts on August 4, which left large number of people dead, have reignited anti-government protests in Lebanon.

 

Background

Thousands of protesters pelted stones in central Beirut where Lebanon’s parliament is located. The demonstrations, which began peacefully, have since taken a violent turn.

 

Details

  • The recent explosion was caused by 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored for six years in a warehouse in the city’s port. Its negligence by officials has sparked widespread public anger, which had already been stoked over the past year due to serious economic woes.

  • The Beirut explosion has caused damage worth $3 billion, with the country’s collective loss estimated at $15 billion. Large parts of the capital city have been devastated.

  • The country’s economic downturn, at the centre of which has been a currency crisis, has caused large-scale closure of businesses and soaring prices of basic commodities resulting in social unrest.

  • The protests in Lebanon started in October 2019 after the government announced plans for new taxes during the 2020 budget season, on everything from tobacco to social media platforms like WhatsApp.

  • Public anger escalated and expanded to wide-scale protests against an unstable economy, sectarian rule, unemployment and corruption, and also forced a shake-up of the country’s leadership.

  • Lebanon has been ruled by a political settlement that ended its 1975-1990 civil war, which distributes power and top offices among the country’s Shiites, Sunnis and Christians.

  • While this complex sectarian system has largely been able to keep the country peaceful, it has made decision-making extremely difficult, with long periods of political gridlock.

  • The protests last October saw the ouster of the West-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who headed a national unity government that was dominated by factions linked to the Hezbollah militant group. Now, the months-old government of PM Hassan Diab has also resigned.

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