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DECEMBER 2020

Anti-Government Riots in Lebanon Continue With A Rise in Violence

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Anti-Government Riots in Lebanon Continue With A Rise in Violence

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Since January 14th, protests in Lebanon have resumed, after approximately two weeks of calm. On January 17th, protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon, including a vital road connecting central Beirut’s east and west. Hundreds of protesters were said to have also gathered outside the Lebanese central bank and close to the parliament.

On the next day, in an attempt to break up gatherings of anti-government protesters attempting to reach Martyr’s Square, dozens of people were injured as security forces used water cannons and tear gas to dissipate the protesters.

This was not unwarranted, since rioters were spotted at Martyr’s Square throwing rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces, as well as shining lasers at them to interrupt series of tear gas rounds.

The security forces used water cannons and tear gas in response to the rioters were attacking them with the makeshift weapons.

“A direct and violent confrontation is taking place with anti-riot police at one of the entrances to parliament,” the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said on Twitter. “We ask peaceful protesters to keep away from the site of the rioting for their safety.”

The ISF uploaded videos showing security officers warning protesters to stop their attacks or they will be met with force.

The ISF, on the evening of January 19th reported that no tear gas had been used, despite media reports, only water cannons.

There were also photographs published showing security forces personnel injured from the stones and other projectiles that rioters were throwing at police.

The Red Cross said that more than 160 people from both sides were wounded in the clashes.

“Over 65 people … have been taken to nearby hospitals and over 100 people have been treated at the scene,” a spokesman said.

According to videos, as well as the ISF, rioters are being violent, with the security forces providing a very tame and balanced reproach. There’s been no casualties, as of January 19th, only minor injuries on both sides.

People in the country are frustrated with the delay in forming of a new, independent government, which President Michel Aoun said was due to various “obstacles.”

Meanwhile MSM is working hard to demonize the Lebanese security forces, similarly to the usual practice of coverage of protests in non-Western countries.

To provide some background is a short overview of the protests:

Prior to New Year’s Eve, the anti-government protests continued for 1 weeks, beginning on October 19th until December 29th. There was almost no violence throughout, up until they subsided around the holidays.

Notably, on October 29th, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address. Several hours after the resignation of the Prime Minister, celebrations swept the nation with demonstrators cautiously welcoming the resignation celebrated through fireworks, songs, and releasing flagged colored balloons.

Regardless, on the next day, tear gas was fired at protesters in the northern district of Akkar by the Lebanese Army trying to reopen the roads. Protesters also blocked roads in the southern city of Sidon and Bekaa Valley. In Central Beirut, dozens of protesters blocked the “Ring Bridge” while a big crowd returned to Tripoli’s al-Nour Square to protest. The Lebanese Army intervened in many regions to prevent escalation.

On October 31st, President Aoun delivered a speech in which he spoke about Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis. He also spoke about his commitment in fighting corruption, ensuring political stability, eliminating terrorists and the return of Syrian refugees within the country. He also promised the new government will be made up by specialist instead of political loyalists.

Protesters took to the streets and blocked roads across the country almost immediately after President Aoun’s address to the nation, demanding early parliamentary elections and the formation of a technocratic government.

Following that, Saad Hariri announced that he wouldn’t run for the prime minister role again, and little progress was made for approximately a month.

On December 19th, Hassan Diab was designated as the next Prime Minister succeeding Saad Hariri.

Diab was a Minister of Education and Higher Education between 2011 and 2014. The announcement of Diab becoming Prime Minister was immediately followed by street protests and road blocks in Tripoli and Beirut. Near Beirut’s Nejme Square, hundreds of protesters sang an anti-Diab chant.

Despite protests, Hassan Diab continued consultations to form a government through December 29th. As of January 14th, when protests resumed, no government had been formed, but Diab hadn’t resigned.

The demonstrations are on-going with no clear demands, or aim, simply wanting a better economic situation and an end to corruption.

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