Why Lebanon is on the brink of revolution

Lebanon plunges into unrest

Lebanon has plunged into a state of unrest and virtually shut down after nation-wide protests erupted last week calling for the government to step down. The tension has been building for months as the government searched for new ways to levy taxes to manage the country’s economic crisis and soaring debt. The trigger, in the end, was news Thursday that the government was planning, among other measures, to impose a tax on WhatsApp calls a decision it later withdrew as people began taking to the streets. In a televised address, Prime Minister Saad Hariri threw in the towel and gave his partners in the government a 72-hour ultimatum to implement reforms before he steps down. Hariri’s supposed allies, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who are both represented in the Cabinet, had already provided their answer: they called on him to resign hours earlier. The unrest is only beginning but it could have all ended and business could have resumed as usual as on previous occasions if Lebanon wasn’t flirting with a financial meltdown. This time is different. Hariri’s call is likely to fall on deaf ears as the ruling class trade accusations while the economic malaise grows and the financial system comes under more stress in the next few days. Hence, the threat of revolution is so grave, and the nation is in a very volatile state.

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