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Lebanon: A Step Away From Chaos
A demonstrator clad in a Lebanese flag mask reacts as she stands next to flaming tires during a protest in Beirut against deteriorating economic and social conditions, March 2, 2021. (Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

Lebanon: A Step Away From Chaos

Al-Joumhouria, Lebanon, March 19

Is there anyone who doubts that Lebanon has now entered a stage of complete chaos? If there is a doubt left in anyone’s mind, perhaps a quick visit to the closest store will be sufficient to reveal how bad the situation has become. Citizens who until recently lived with dignity are now fighting for survival, competing over subsidized commodities to feed themselves and their children. Lebanon is in the midst of a freefall that couldn’t have been imagined even in people’s worst dreams. The first is financial. The sights coming out of Beirut look like those coming out of Venezuela and other countries that suffered from a complete economic collapse. With no government intervention in sight, the people of Lebanon have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves. People steal food, cheat the system, or capitalize on others’ suffering. And the worst part of it all? Everything we’re currently witnessing is nothing more than a “dress rehearsal” for the biggest anarchy yet to come. Most stores and businesses have already shut down. And with the Lebanese pound continuing to plummet, there is a real concern that the flow of imports into Lebanon will completely stop. The implication is clear: Famine will become a reality in this country and Lebanon will turn into a failed state ruled by the law of the jungle. The second path to collapse is the political path. Whatever is left of what used to be Lebanon’s political system – an amalgamation of clientelistic parties – is unable to control the situation. So our politicians resort to useless measures, ignoring the basic fact that the most important thing they can do to stabilize the country is form a government. The question that arises today is very simple: What will it take to force our politicians to get their acts together? Will we have to wait until we see photos of famished people on the streets, like those we saw years ago in Somalia, until our politicians act? Even Somalia, by the way, succeeded in rebuilding the foundations of a functioning state, while the situation in Lebanon continues to decline. Everyone wants to buy time at the expense of the livelihood of the people of Lebanon (and perhaps at the expense of their blood). Unfortunately, there are those who are ready to see their country burn down in flames just for the sake of political interest and personal greed. Time is running out and soon Lebanon will become a ghost state, covered in smoke and ashes. –Nabil Haitham (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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