LEBANON: “THE WEEK OF WRATH”


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As the top of the economic ladder meet in Davos this week, the bottom rungs, sunk in poverty, deep in desperation, lacking basic human needs, and having lost everything and with nothing left to lose, are losing it.
While stock markets across the globe, from which the one percent reap the riches, reach new highs, while England and much of the global media are in a tizzy about the Prince not wanting to play Prince anymore, and America is obsessed with an impeachment process going nowhere… our 2020 Top Trend, the “New World Disorder,” continues to rage across the globe.
In Lebanon, the protests that began in October – triggered by government tax hikes on phone apps and gasoline that hit the “average” citizens the hardest and then expanded into country-wide anger over entrenched government corruption, secret bank rules favoring the rich, and lack of basic services such as water and electricity – have greatly escalated.
With Lebanon having the third highest debt load in the world, the World Bank has issued a dire report predicting that as the economy continues to deteriorate, the number of Lebanese citizens living in poverty will rise to almost 50 percent.
Ján Kubiš, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, called the continuing dysfunction of the Lebanese government “increasingly irresponsible,” and he called out Lebanese politicians for their inaction as the central banks come under more pressure.
Last week he tweeted: “Another evening of vandalism, violence and escalating security incidents, another day of protests notably of young people angry that their demands for decent future are summarily ignored with growing number of desperate people unable to cope with the economic crisis.”
Non-Withdrawal Syndrome
Over the weekend, angry demonstrators physically confronted riot police and vandalized over 300 banks, smashing ATMs in protest of being restricted as to how much of their own money they can withdraw. A protestor told a reporter, “The country is frozen. The state is not doing a thing, they’re a bunch of thieves. And if you have money in the bank you can’t even get a hundred dollars out.”
Beirut has been turned into an armed camp: the government has encircled the parliament building with razor wire and brought in armed troops supplied with rocket launchers to protect political leaders.
Last Saturday, almost 400 people were injured as protestors used everything from tree branches and uprooted traffic signs to ram armored police who were firing tear gas and water cannons. Other protesters threw stones and firecrackers at rushing police.
Demonstrators have been blocking major highways by setting tires on fire, actively resisting all attempts by police armed with shields, batons, teargas, and, in some reported incidents, live ammunition.
The economic crisis is affecting virtually all sectors of the country. According to medical sources, crucial hospital supplies are depleted, and an impending health catastrophe is looming.
Doctors complain about their salaries being cut in half due to the devaluation of the Lebanese pound and that hospitals lack basic medical supplies to treat patients.
Last week, Lebanese President Michel Aoun acknowledged the delay in forming a new cabinet and asked for patience in a televised speech stating, “The formation of this government demands choosing competent individuals who deserve the trust of the people and parliament, which takes time.”
But yesterday, he admitted time is of the essence, tweeting: “Our government resigned in order to transition to a new government dealing with popular changes but obstruction has continued for 90 days and the country is moving toward the unknown.”
Demonstrators are calling for the resignation of all government leaders and the appointment of qualified experts who have no current affiliation to the current regime.
TREND FORECAST: The protests in Lebanon, as with Chile, Hong Kong (which ranks as one of the most unequal societies on the planet), Ecuador, Columbia, South Africa, India, Algeria, France, etc., will not only continue to escalate… but will expand to other nations across the globe as economies decline and the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen.

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