"Tsunami Of Rage": Lebanon Braces For Mass Protests Over Blast, Economy In Free Fall

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Aug 07, 2020 - 01:35 PM

Lebanon is bracing itself for a return to the massive demonstrations and riots which gripped the streets for much of last year, leading to closures of highways, banks, and public buildings. Like the years-long banking crisis, the government is seen as directly responsible for this week's epic tragedy.

Already Thursday night small, sporadic angry protests popped up downtown areas of Beirut. It's expected that following ongoing searches of rubble, as well as funerals for the over 135 killed, and initial clean-up efforts of a capital city covered in glass, mass demonstrations are expected to explode

It was already a country on the brink, but the Tuesday blast centered on the port which had such force as to be compared to a mini-nuke has reportedly displaced 300,000 people - many of which saw entire walls of their homes ripped out - already in a dire situation of huge unemployment especially among young people, skyrocketing inflation, and a banking system teetering on collapse, which already saw closures for weeks at a time over the past year.

There's also of course the COVID-19 crisis which has not abated yet. But even before pandemic shutdowns in Lebanon the World Bank projected a whopping 45% of the population would be below the poverty line by the end of 2020.

Thus anger at widespread government corruption and ineptitude was already swelling before it was revealed that the government allowed 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate to be left in unsafe conditions right on the doorstep of populous residential areas.

One Middle East analyst and US-based professor, Elias Muhanna, aptly described that "a tsunami of rage" is gathering and about to be unleashed across the country.

Recall too how earlier this year and into last year it's believed a record 25% of the entire population (of nearly seven million people) was on the streets protesting at one point.

This at the height of the banking and currency crisis which saw unprecedented restrictions put on patrons of banks: they couldn't draw from their own savings accounts on fears of a run on cash (specifically the dollar), and had strict controls put on external transfers out of the country. This as the local Lebanese lira had effectively collapsed.

Lebanese officials estimate that the explosion resulted in between three and five billion dollars worth of destruction. Currently international aid is en route, including at least three cargo planes worth of emergency aid from the United States.

Multiple countries have also sent emergency teams to set up makeshift clinics at local stadiums, given the over 5,000 wounded in the blast are still being treated.