Lebanon is in a VERY BAD shape ☹.
All its citizens are now poorer, from the wealthiest to the poorest.
To give you an idea, over 60% of this tiny country’s 6 million citizens live under the poverty line.
Lebanon hosts Palestinians, the poorest of them live in camps (180,000-470,000; https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/lebanon) and Syrian refugees (1.5 million, 9 out of 10 of them living in extreme poverty; https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20201218-nine-in-10-syrian-refugee-families-in-lebanon-in-extreme-poverty-un)
Hyperinflation is making the country look worse than Venezuela. No, not a glorious comparison.
The Lebanese pound lost over 90% of its value over the past year or 1.5 years.
Prices are increasing daily.
There is a shortage of medical supplies, medication (even those produced locally), gas, electricity, etc.
Related to the above, today Bambi read this tweet by her own sister, journalist Roula Douglas:
Here is an English translation: “Seeing members of the state’s security supervising citizens in gas stations, under cover but holding their M16 (yes, assault rifles!) has revived, in my mind, images from civil war”.
After reading this tweet, Bambi called her parents to check on everyone.
Her mom described the same situation in more details. There is an increase in power outages, a very long wait time in endless line-ups of cars in front of gas stations. Citizens are starting to wait from as early as 5 AM. Gas price is expected to rise between Monday and Wednesday. The idea is to standardize the price across the country to try to stabilize it. A measure that the country’s officials are trying to take.
One must recall that Lebanon remains without a government since the Beirut explosion of August 4, 2020.
No government, no reforms.
No reforms, no bailout by foreign countries.
No bailout and much impunity, a risk of seeing more guests like Mr. Hanieh, perhaps mainly hosted by Lebanon’s most powerful group (https://today.lorientlejour.com/article/1266481/hamas-leader-ismail-haniyeh-has-arrived-in-beirut-lorient-le-jour-reports-haniyeh-is-expected-to-meet-palestinian-factions-representatives-of-hezbolla.html).
Bambi will comment on this further below. However, before doing so, you may wish to check this 2121- Mercer Cost of living ranking. See where Beirut stands: # 3 from the top ☹ (https://www.consultancy-me.com/news/3894/crisis-stricken-beirut-becomes-worlds-third-most-expensive-city).
Below, you can see Beirut on the right side (among the highest cost of living AND lowest quality of life).
You may wish to compare it Vancouver. Even if inflation is likely coming to Canada (it is a matter of time…), check where the expensive Vancouver is ranked, still in a better position than many other cities/capitals of the world, including the more expensive New York, Tel Aviv (Israel), and European or other cities.
You can imagine that the people of Lebanon are fed up. However, is road blocking a constructive or healthy method, especially with burning tires?
Instead of showing roads blocked by snow or by traffic jams due to rush hours like in our big cities, the Lebanese MTV channel is reporting on blocked key roads due to demonstrations: (https://www.mtv.com.lb/en/news/local/1191989/list-of-blocked-roads-in-beirut-and-the-north).
On a smaller scale in Atlantic Canada, we can imagine that what is happening in Lebanon, may be comparable to what we saw on the Trans-Canada highway the other day between the “borders” of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Lockdowns are tough. People need to earn their living.
Imagine this same situation, but across an entire bankrupt country… of course, with tires that are burning (in the Middle East, it is not hard to imagine!).
Imagine also stories of people storming banks out of frustration for what the population has been enduring since October 17, 2019. The latter date is when the financial crash occurred, after the fraud of the Ponzi scheme fell apart, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic): https://apnews.com/article/beirut-middle-east-lebanon-riots-business-6bd60c77f9b04c17cb8d51073d7a55b6 .
As Bambi’s mom puts it: “People feel humiliated”.
As Bambi’s dad replied when Bambi asked about any solution, “Lebanon is a farm right now; it is not a country. It still does not have a government. No financial reforms yet”.
Their elections are supposed to take place in a year.
A year is a long-time when we are desperate.
Indeed, when people are starving and they need to feed their families, they can do anything in life.
They can steal or lose their tamper on gas pumps.
It is in this economically tough context that Mr. Hannieh visited Beirut for a second time.
Bambi is not overjoyed by this visit because her birth country is so fragile. It cannot afford shenanigans or political deals that could, at best, block peace in the region and, at worst, drag Lebanon (once again!) into an another war… of course in the noble name of resistance (to Israel).
The sadly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict lasted for over 70 years now. It has dragged Lebanon into a very long civil war in 1975 that ended in 1990.
There has been a short yet intense war with Israel in July 2006 (it was a conflict between Iran and the United States, by proxy, that is between Hezbollah and Israel).
Of course, there is also the Syrian civil war nearby (in which Hezbollah remains active, after having gone to war behind the back of the government).
Does the country of the Cedars need another armed conflict?
So, hands off Lebanon, please.
Bambi is sick and tired of violence.
Bambi is not into ideologies (i.e. Islamism, Zionism, wokeism, or or anything else ending with “ism”…).
Often in life, ideologies go hand in hand with “corruption”, even when they start as “noble” ideas.
Clearly, a religious ideology, like Islamism (political Islam) or like Zionism, does not seem to be into compromise, needed to one day reach a peace deal.
In order to engage in peace, one needs genuine leaders with a will/vision for it, in addition to courage… on both sides.
Peace seems impossible today, sadly.
To conclude this post, PLEASE leave Lebanon out of this historic conflict.
Do not let history repeat itself, even if some of the same ingredients of the past may sadly still be present today.
This is a message from Bambi to Mr. Hannieh, to all his foreign allies (mainly Iran), to his Lebanese allies (mainly the most powerful internal group mentioned above), and… to the military powerful Israel.
Thank you everyone for behaving with maturity and empathy for your own people, if at all realistically possible! Bambi is convinced that the majority of all the innocent people on all sides aspire for safety, peace, prosperity, and… love.