In Lebanon, there is a lot to protest about; the deteriorating economic situation, limited government services, sky rocketing prices, a banking sector meltdown and a corrupt ruling class that has entrenched itself into the system so deep, that sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between them.

You cannot blame the Lebanese for wanting to brave the warnings of COVID 19 and head down to the streets and vent their frustrations. But who exactly are the people the people that will be protesting?

We have categorised them into 4 different groups to better understand the situation:

  1. Genuine people who are hurting, those less fortunate (poor) and middle class that see that they are getting a bad deal in life from the Lebanese State.
  2. Civil Society Groups who want genuine change and for the state to clean up corruption and provide a better life for its citizens.

These first two groups indeed have a right to protest, it is their prerogative to protest and hold the state accountable. We should praise their efforts if we are unable to join them on the streets.

Now for the more sinister protesters:

  1. The corrupt ruling class composed of political parties and former militias turned political parties (who stand most to lose from the cleaning up of corruption), will most probably be the loudest and most destructive come this weekend. The warlords and mob bosses of these organisations will send their supporters (paid for or otherwise) onto the streets, disguised as Civil Society groups and will want to blame “Everyone and Anyone” for the current situation.
  2. Mysteriously well-funded and well organised NGO’s (with suspected ties to foreign intelligence agencies and embassies) whose names will include the words like “Freedom, Democracy, Accountability and Human Rights” to make you think they are genuine; but their role is also to create chaos and confusion in the protests.

Their agenda is to paint the reformists trying to clean up the country with the same brush as the corrupt ruling class. By causing chaos and confusion, they buy more time for their leaders to further protect themselves from accountability for the situation Lebanon is in.

Somehow, they will try to steer and manipulate genuine anger of the Lebanese people resulting from the 30 years corruption and mismanagement of the nation, onto the President (who has been in power for just over 3 years) and the Lebanese government (that was sworn in just over 3 months ago). They will also target the reformists in Parliament that make up a sizable bloc; who also have been fighting for reform and change for over a decade with some success despite all the obstruction and sabotage that they have faced.

The anti-corruption drive the President, Prime Minister and Reformists have been pushing is starting to hurt the corrupt ruling class, hurt their pockets and their lackeys are being arrested and tried in the courts; it’s only a matter of time before one by one they get the punishment they deserve and the justice the Lebanese people deserve. This is why we should expect the ruling class not only to get even more clever in their tactics of stalling and obstructing reforms, but to also get more vicious and violent. They are betting on the people’s frustrations boiling over because change is not coming quickly enough.

German thinker Max Weber said that change comes in small and excruciating increments for those who want it. The Reformists want it, the Lebanese people want it and it’s only a matter of time before the hopes and dreams of the Lebanese people are realised. We should however, all be cautious and not get deceived by the even dirtier tricks that are about to unfold.

Labib Chemali



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