LEBANON FACES FINANCIAL MELTDOWN


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The Lebanese pound collapsed last week to 10,000 to the U.S. dollar, which has added more fuel to rising poverty rates, declining living standards, and political instability… which had intensified before the COVID War began last year. 
Indeed, back in October 2019, we reported in the Trends Journal that in Lebanon, an estimated one million Lebanese took to the streets to protest harsh austerity measures, which have deepened financial distress on all but the rich. 
Throughout Beirut, anti-government graffiti such as “Down with the rule of the mafia” and protestors chanting “Thieves, thieves”… calling out politicians they say have stolen billions of dollars from them, aided by Bankster laws that allow them to do it.
Protesters are back in Beirut and took to the streets again last week. One of the protesters, Tawfik Marei, told Reuters, “They’re taking away our dignity. We came down today to say no we have dignity… We are not insects. They are controlling the dollar for your interests to steal money from the people.”
He continued, “If I can still afford to get bread to feed my kids, others can’t. I’m telling everyone to go down to the streets for these people.”
In its attempt to climb out of a financial crisis, the government has locked people out of their bank accounts that hold U.S. dollars. More protesters took the streets on Saturday in front of a Beirut bank demanding access to their accounts.
The country’s March 2020 default on a $1.2 billion Eurobond plus the coronavirus outbreak have contributed to the crisis.
WSWS.com reported that half of the country’s six million people live in poverty. The pound’s crash has contributed to exorbitant food prices. The minimum wage in the country fell in real terms to $67 a month, the report said. Two months ago, the minimum wage was about $450 per month. The report said the World Bank warned that Beirut could face an “arduous and prolonged depression.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on the country’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who resigned from the post in October 2019 after protests broke out in the country over its economy. Aoun wants to form a new government, but WSWS.com reported they have hit roadblocks because they fail to agree on members who would “encompass their different patronage networks.”
A new cabinet could help bring in billions in international aid, the Reuters report said.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab urged these leaders to form a new government and pointed to a viral video on social media that showed people fighting over powdered milk.
“Doesn’t the scramble for milk constitute a sufficient incentive to transcend formalities and rough out the edges in order to form a government?”
Syria also Suffers
The WSWS reported that the Syrian economy is closely tied to Lebanon’s, and Damascus’ pound also hit record lows last week, trading on the black market at 4,000 pounds to the U.S. dollar. (The official number was 1,256 pounds to the dollar. At the start of the mid-March 2011 conflict, the Syrian pound was valued at 47 pounds to the dollar, according to the Associated Press.)
Most Syrians survive on about 90,000 pounds a month, which is equivalent to $22.50, according to the report. The report said about 80 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line.
Damascus has dealt with a multi-pronged hit on its economy from war launched against it by the U.S. under President Obama, Turkey, and Western allies plus trade and other sanctions. The AP reported it is believed Syrians also keep their money in Lebanese banks and are unable to access it.
TREND FORECAST: As we reported last August, a massive explosion ripped through the heart of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, killing some 200 people and injuring an estimated 6,000.
On top of the loss of life, estimated property damage hovers between $3-15 billion, and hundreds of thousands are now homeless due to the explosion’s widespread damage.
With deep anti-government rage running through the streets, the future of the nation, which keeps sinking deeper into socioeconomic and political despair, will ignite civil and possibly regional wars.

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