This move brought to mind the unprecedented demonstrations that Lebanon witnessed in the fall of 2019, in protest against the beginning of the deterioration of economic conditions, and demanding the departure of the political class that still holds the reins to this day, without offering any solutions.
Scenes from the demonstrations
- The demonstrators gathered in Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut, opposite the Government Serail.
- Some demonstrators raised Lebanese flags and chanted anti-authority slogans.
- One of the demonstrators, who was wearing a military uniform, carried a banner that read: “We appeal to the Arab and international community to rid us of the corrupt ruling class,” and bore the signature of “retired Lebanese army,” according to Agence France-Presse.
- The demonstration included hit-and-run operations after the security forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators in order to disperse them, after a group of them managed to remove the barbed wire and advance towards the Grand Serail campus.
- A demonstrator was injured in the head when tear gas was fired, and an army soldier was wounded by the demonstrators throwing stones.
- There were cases of fainting among the demonstrators, according to the official National Information Agency in Lebanon.
- Members of the army separated the demonstrators from the security forces, to contain tension, after tear gas was fired extensively.
We feel humiliated while trying to live a dignified life.. A Lebanese protester.
During the demonstrations, retired Brigadier General Khaled Naous (70 years old) expressed his anger at the situation in Lebanon, saying:
- “My salary was about $4,000 before the crisis, and it’s about $150 today.”
- “We feel humiliated while trying to live a decent life because we are unable to secure the necessities of our home. We have reached a stage of despair, as the banks took our retirement compensations and we had no salaries left, and that is why we are taking to the streets today.”
“How do I live?” A Lebanese protester
Another protester who identified himself as Hatem (73 years old), a retired secondary school teacher, said:
- “I receive my salary in pounds, and all those who receive their salaries in pounds have collapsed and can no longer provide their minimum needs.”
- “How do I live? My salary is equivalent to one hundred dollars, while the generator bill is one hundred dollars,” referring to private generators that cover hours of power outages throughout the day, and require customers to pay in dollars or according to the black market exchange rate.
- “I am now forced to be a vegetarian, as I am unable to buy meat or a gas bottle.”
- “I have been traveling for weeks on foot in Beirut, because I am unable to provide fuel for my car.”
The worst crisis in the history of Lebanon
- Since the summer of 2019, Lebanon has been witnessing an economic crisis that the World Bank ranked among the worst since 1850, and it is considered the worst in Lebanon’s history.
- This coincides with an acute liquidity crisis and tight banking restrictions, with which depositors can no longer access their outstanding savings.
- On Tuesday, the Lebanese pound recorded a historic collapse, with the exchange rate crossing the threshold of 140,000 against the dollar.
- This caused an increase in the prices of all commodities, especially fuel, commodities, and foodstuffs, which became priced in dollars after subsidies were lifted.
- Several gas stations have stopped selling fuel.
- The exchange rate fell, on Wednesday, to about 110,000 against the dollar, the day after the Banque du Liban issued a circular to limit the collapse of the lira, which lost nearly 98 percent of its value.
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