Mass protests resume in Lebanon despite lockdown

People in Lebanon began to take to the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic despite the lockdown restrictions, which have been in effect for almost a month, Izvestia writes. Activists oppose corruption and the government’s inability to cope with the protracted economic crisis, the worst since the civil war when the country was in ruins. According to the World Bank’s data, over 45% of people in Lebanon live below the poverty line, while last September that figure stood at 33%.

So far, the unrest has had no adverse effect on the incidence of coronavirus in the country, but experts warn that worst may still be ahead.

Head of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies’ Center of the Near and Middle East Vladimir Fitin explained to Izvestia that the current situation in Lebanon is not so much the result of the pandemic, but the result of the policies pursued by the current government.

"The situation was very complex before the pandemic as well. Unlike in previous years, the protests that had raged in the country since October had nothing to do with religious affiliation. Both Sunnis, Shiites, people who adhere to the Druze beliefs and Christians took part in them. All of them were outraged by the state of affairs, unlimited corruption, unemployment, and the substantial drop in living standards. The pandemic helped stop mass protests for some time, but it was clear that this is not a solution to the problem, but just a delay," he said.

The IMF demands that the country embark on radical reforms, primarily regarding taxes, which will further impoverish the population, and that will trigger new protests, so the situation is almost hopeless, Fitin stressed.

Lebanon coronavirus