Lebanon at ‘most dangerous moment in its history’ and facing bleak future

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The blast has highlighted the country’s weak governance and the economic failings, leaving it with “very grim” options.

The anger on Beirut’s streets shows no sign of stopping.

A cataclysmic explosion and now a deepening political crisis which has left the country without a government.

With minsters resigning daily, Hassan Diab, the prime minister, had no choice but to throw in the towel, handing his resignation letter to the president.


                              Lebanon at 'most dangerous moment in its history' and facing bleak future

Soon after, he appeared on TV to explain why the government had collapsed and made an astonishing and depressing admission.

Corruption, he said, was so endemic it was now bigger than the government.

It is a staggering confession and an indication of how big a hole Lebanon has descended into.

As well as killing and maiming huge numbers of people the explosion has brought into sharp focus the country’s weak governance and the economic crisis which has been rumbling on for months.

The sectarian system of government requires the president, Michel Aoun, to consult with parliamentary blocs on who should be the next prime minister.

He is obliged to choose the person with the greatest level of support in parliament.


                              Lebanon at 'most dangerous moment in its history' and facing bleak future

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That sounds straightforward but it is far from that. The mechanics could take days or weeks at a time when Lebanon needs clear-sighted and strong leadership.

It’s also not enough without significant electoral change.

Protesters want root and branch reform; essentially an end to the sectarian politics which have been entrenched since the end of the Lebanese civil war which raged between 1975 and 1990.


                              Lebanon at 'most dangerous moment in its history' and facing bleak future

Critics say it empowers and rewards the former warlords and ruling elites and encourages corruption and clientelism.

Rima Majed, a professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut, told me Lebanon is facing a bleak future.

He said: “This is probably the most dangerous moment in the history of this country. Unfortunately the options we have today are very grim.

“If there isn’t a serious will from the international community to create serious structural change in this country we are going towards civil war. There is no alternative. It’s very unfortunate to say that in this country we don’t believe there is rock bottom anymore.”

What a new Lebanon would look like nobody knows but getting there will not be easy.

The country’s now entering a period of political darkness – great peril lies ahead.

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