A fragile unity Government by great threats to Israel and Hezbollah exchange missiles and bombing raids on the lebanese border
Tens of thousands of people took this Friday for the ninth day in a row the center of Beirut, with the cry of “revolution,” and hundreds of thousands of people around the country chanted “The people want the regime to go!”. Require the resignation in mass of the Government and early elections. And for the first time united under the national flag. The spark that threatens to end the system of sectarian in Lebanon was the announcement of a rate to voice calls with WhatsApp.
the lebanese have run out of patience. “They are 30 years that it has been the class leader current in power by robbing the people and facing them in the streets with slogans of sectarian at the service of their interests. We want a secular Government and a technocrat”, he shouted Dany Al Banna, 28 years of age and employed in a pharmaceutical company.
The announcement of the call-rate WhatsApp -20 cents on the dollar (18 euro cents) a day— by the minister of communication, Mohamed Choucair, the last day 18, it angered a citizenship tired of taxes on the poor while lenders and banks enjoy interest of up to 10% for loans to the State. In 2015, the poor management of wastes, sparked mass protests in Beirut, a city that was buried by the detritus, and in which germinated the civil society that has now been taken to the streets.
The country of the cedars is on the verge of economic collapse due to decades of bad recipes financial and a chronic corruption among the politicians who have left the 60% of the national wealth in the hands of 2,000 families. The debt in lebanese reaches 150% of GDP, which is equivalent to 75.800 million euros, and during the last few months, the prime minister Saad Hariri has announced more taxes and less public spending. Young people from the periphery of Beirut complain about the lack of employment, or the need to combine two jobs to cope with the battery of taxes and expenses.
One of the protesters was holding a banner with the face of George Zreik where it reads: “The beginning of the revolution.” Zreik, taxi driver, burned to the ground in February to bonzo in front of the doors of the school his two sons in the northern city of Tripoli, because it could not cope with the payments of your education. 30% of the lebanese live under the poverty line, according to the UN. The infrastructures are falling literally to pieces, the power outages are daily and the population suffers the abuse of mafias that supply water and electricity.
Barricades made of containers and burning tires to block the main arteries of the country. Schools and banks have closed their doors. At sunset, the young people take the center of the city, where resound the rhythms of derbeke or electronic music which prick spontaneous DJ in a festive atmosphere where the national anthem has become the soundtrack. “Selmia, selmia” (peaceful, peaceful, in Arabic), they shout the demonstrators when a group of young people trying to provoke disputes. A string of women managed to avoid the manifestation became the Thursday in pitched battle when young followers of Hezbollah and Amal stormed into the center of the protests.
The class lebanese politics seems to have muted before the slap popular. After a week of silence, the lebanese president, the former general Michel Aoun, went this Friday to the citizens to ask for a “constructive dialogue” and said that “the changes are not achieved in the streets.” For his part, Hariri announced Monday a new package of measures that included a up to now rejected: a 50% reduction in the salaries of ministers and deputies, the privatization of the telecommunications sector and a law to return “public money ” stolen”. The leaders seem to have exhausted the little credit of public trust they had left in a country that is ranked 138 out of 180 in the list of corruption perception of Transparency International and whose new Government eliminated this year, the Ministry anti-Corruption created in 2016.
Economists lebanese consider that the measures announced by Hariri arrive late and are not viable. The “claims popular are legitimate”, government proposals to exit the crisis are “unrealistic and unsustainable” and figures that promise to “swollen”, account from the anonymity of a european officer. The reforms also depends on the unlocking of the critical injection 9,800 million euros pledged by the international community to the country at a donors ‘ conference in Paris in 2018.
riot police had to face on Friday to several tens of young people who said they were followers of Hezbollah —the party in the majority coalition Government— despite the fact that in a televised speech by their leader, Hassan Nasralá, called on the youth to “not participate or interfere in the demonstrations” to avoid your presence “outside politicized”. “You can’t insult the Sayed [honorary title]. That is crossing a red line for us”, argues one of his followers. “All, all, all, and Nasralá is one more,” they responded in chorus to the protesters to whom the leader of the shi’a is also a part of the current Government, although —unlike the rest— to lead his party from a bunker in the basement of the periphery of Beirut to evade the missiles the israelis.
despite the violence that erupted during the afternoon, the youth spent an ovation to the soldiers who have cordoned off the area. They gave roses in a country where the Military has become the latest custodian and symbol of national unity.