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Staring Into the Abyss: Where Does Lebanon Go From Here?

Staring Into the Abyss: Where Does Lebanon Go From Here?

Date and time: August 17, 2020, 4 pm Arabia Standard Time (UTC+3)

Register on Zoom here.


  • Joseph Bahout, nonresident scholar, Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Nasser Saidi, former economy and trade minister and industry minister, Lebanon
  • Rami Khouri, professor of journalism, American University of Beirut

Online moderator: Nader Kabbani, research director, Brookings Doha Center

On August 4, 2020, Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion that killed at least 150 people, injured thousands, and damaged large parts of the city. The blast was caused by a fire that broke out in a port warehouse, where 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been held for six years. However, the ultimate culprit was a combination of government incompetence, gross negligence, and rampant corruption.

The explosion is the latest in a series of scandals that have rocked the country and signaled a dysfunctional state. Over the past five years, the people of Lebanon have had to deal with disruptions to basic public services such as garbage collection, medical care, and electricity generation. In October 2019, protesters took to the streets in massive numbers condemning the country’s sectarian power structure and demanding that all leaders must go.

Most recently, a banking crisis has led to a financial meltdown, with the Lebanese pound losing 80% of its value against the US dollar. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the situation. Inflation has skyrocketed. Poverty is increasing. Citizens are growing increasingly desperate. While the recent explosion has underscored the deep incompetence and corruption within the Lebanese state, it has also fueled international concern over the country’s plight.

The Brookings Doha Center invites you to a webinar on the dire political and economic situation in Lebanon. Is the country on its way to becoming a failed state, or will the repercussions of the Beirut blast lead to serious reform? Does the French political initiative steered by President Emmanuel Macron have the potential to resolve the crisis? What are the prospects for economic recovery amid stalled negotiations between the Lebanese government and the International Monetary Fund? And what role can the international community play in order to assist Lebanon?

IMPORTANT: For English language, use the English interpretation channel and click on “Mute Original Audio.”

Kindly note that there is a maximum capacity to join this webinar.

The discussion will include a “Question and Answer” session.

All attendees will have the chance to submit questions via the Q&A option in the Zoom webinar and these can be submitted.

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