With American Help, Lebanon Once Again Nears the Abyss
Lebanon needs change. The people demand it and even some of the leaders know it. But US involvement threatens that possibility. “The switch from peace to a state of war,” wrote Lebanese novelist Hassan Daoud in 2006 when Israel was invading Lebanon, “is the fastest transition of all.” Lebanon, which managed to keep the Syrian war from spreading to its territory for eight years, is now bracing for another switch. More than a quarter of the population has descended on the streets in all large cities demanding an end to government corruption. Protesters from all the Christian and Muslim sects are blockading Parliament and major roads and denouncing government ministers as “thieves.” The prime minister has resigned, but no one has emerged to form a new government. Lebanon is teetering under popular dissent against a grotesquely crooked system and an $86 billion national debt (150 percent of GDP) that makes it the third-most-indebted nation on earth.