The prevailing resentment in Lebanon resulted in mass protests against economic tumult and corruption. When the government was formed after nine months, resignation occurred due to an increase in pressure in the streets throughout the country. The people in the streets of Lebanon have succeeded in stimulating how their leaders use sectarianism as a way to divide and rule.
The dangerous blast of Lebanon was seen by many as the deadly result of years of corruption and mismanagement. It is facing the worst economic, health, garbage crisis, and unemployment. The prime Minister, Health Minister, Finance Minister, and the entire cabinet have resigned. The blast is only the outcome of their fallen political system.
In Beirut Port, 2700 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate was stored in a wrongful manner, that’s why the blast occurred. Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon. But this port is not directly controlled by the government. The port is jointly managed by the Customs Authority and the Beirut Port Authority. It leads to various conflicts between the two. The matter of fact is that Custom Authority is supporter of the President and Port Authority is a supporter of Ex-PM. And the basic reason is that corruption and negligence lead to such mistakes.
The Lebanon of the country shares a border with Syria. It has a very interesting religious demography. Lebanon’s politics is a mixture of different religions like 27% Shia Muslims, 27% Sunni Muslims, 21% Maronite Christians, and 25% others. In total, more than 18 religious communities comprise the country of Lebanon but the main are Sunni, Shia Muslims.
In reality, every religious community made its own political party and worked for its own benefit which led to conflicts among the communities. When a problem occurs in the country, they blame each other’s party; that’s why the civil war started in earlier times from 1975-1990.
Palestinian Refugees are also the cause of civil war but after the end of the civil war, the 2nd Republic was established within Lebanon. Hence, conditions could be even improved after the establishment of the 2nd Republic. Firstly, all the political parties of the religious communities were interested in their own interest. They were not interested in working together with other religious communities, and on the other hand, if so many religious communities would make political parties, it would lead to a quid-pro-quo situation. They would negotiate and bribe one another.
External forces like Iran (Shia), Saudi Arabia (Sunni), Israel participate and increase the conflicts in Lebanon politics. That’s why corruption increases and the conditions are so terrible today that at 150%, Lebanon has the worst 3rd debt to GDP ratio. Now, the Youth unemployment rate is 37% and overall unemployment is 25%.
In the 2019 Economic crisis, the infrastructure after the civil war was never rebuilt. Because the government had no funds. Politicians hallow the government and have no funds at their disposal. They increased the taxes to compensate for the loss, the Lebanese strike against the government.
In the 2019 October revolution PM resigned due to protests and a new PM was appointed. Then the COVID-19 crisis deteriorated the economic condition and then a blast happened. Activated by the government’s decision to force new taxes (including one on WhatsApp calls), people denied accepting the brutal attitude of the government.
After which the new PM also resigned. In the blast, 3 Lac people became homeless and the damage amounted to more than 15 billion dollars. It could also be called a trigger point. Due to which people became even more infuriated and protests increased, and then the government had to resign. During the resignation, PM said that this country is now at the mercy of God.
But the demand of the protesters does not end here. They ultimately want to completely change the entire political system of the country.
People want to put an end to the sectarian political system which has divided people into different sects and communities. It should be done away with and such a system should be put in place similar to those practiced in other countries.
Lastly, the government should conduct non-sectarian elections and religion should not be involved in politics. Everyone should be equally given rights despite their religion. And the elections and the transition of powers must be overseen by independent groups such as International Peacekeeping Organizations, NGOs, and technocrats of Lebanon. By following all these things, the conditions of Lebanon may be improved.
Author: Sania Sajjad is a student of BS International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad. Her area of interest include the Middle East and South Asia