Berri Likens Lebanon to ‘Sinking’ Ship
A Lebanese newspaper says parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri has compared the country to a sinking ship in light of paralyzing anti-government protests now in their second month. “The country is like a ship that is sinking little by little,” Berri was quoted as saying by al-Joumhuriya, considered the country’s best-selling daily. “If we don’t take the necessary steps, it will sink completely.” The street protests have zeroed in on economic policies that have led to staggering foreign debt and poor public services, with demonstrators calling for a clean sweep of the country’s system of governance, as well as those doing the governing. Of particular focus is the decades-old power-sharing scheme for the country’s often deeply divided sectarian groups, something protesters say has led to narrow interests and corruption. Berri leads the mainstream Amal Shi’ite party, which, like the more extreme Shi’ite group Hizbullah, has been critical of the protests and favors maintaining the political and economic status quo.