Anger and Dissatisfaction Erupt after Beirut Explosion
By: Luke Wang
On the 4th of August, 2020, two large explosions occurred at the Port of Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion is apparently linked to 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port seized from an Abandoned ship in 2013. By the 5th of August, 135 people had lost their lives while leaving 5000 injured.
While the government has stated that they will investigate the explosion and hold those responsible to punishment, the public has not been very positive about the government’s plan. Instead, residents held the government’s years of mismanagement and neglect at fault.
Ms. Nada Chemali, an affected business owner, quoted this angrily to the New York Times: “Go to their homes! Who from the big ones is going to help us?Who is going to reimburse us?” towards the politicians of the nation and to urge other leabians to join her fight against the government.
Ms. Chemali is one of the many from Beirut that lost their shop and home in this fierce explosion. She is also part of the public that has expressed dissatisfaction with the government. Mr. Roger Matar also lost his apartment room in the Explosion. The situation was worsened by something else: the banks.
Because of Lebanon’s dwindling economy, banks have placed a strict restriction on cash withdrawals in order to prevent runs. In response to the bank’s policy, Mr. Matar stated: “The banks are holding our money, and if you need to pay workers, you need cash, it should be the government that helps, but they are bankrupt. The country is broken,” displaying more negative views towards the government.
Altogether, Lebanon was already suffering from a vigorous striking economic crisis. The crisis was only to be strengthened by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, an immense stress had already been placed onto the public while the government failed to manage it. This explosion could possibly only worsen the situation in Lebanon further.
When the civil war ended in 1990 for the nation, Lebanon’s goal was to make itself a cultural and financial hub in the Middle East. However, according to the New York Times, this change allowed former warlords to become power brokers in the nation’s weak democracy, and power was divided among the nation’s 18 recognized religious sects.
This system led to corruption and a chronic political deadlock with massive government debts that covers about 160% of the country’s gross domestic product and a sloppy national infrastructure. Public dissatisfaction peaked last year with protests that “overthrown” the prime minister. COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown then struck the nation with lockdown and unemployment, putting the nation in a state of overpressure which this explosion, indeed, will press down harder.