On October 29th, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation after nearly two weeks of protests against the entire government that showed no signs of stopping. Demonstrators started gathering on the streets of Beirut, moments after it was announced that he would resign at 4 PM local time, which he did.
HINT: The Lebanese Prime Minister appears at the 7:45 mark of the video and announces the resignation.
“I have reached a dead end today,” Hariri said from Beirut, as he appealed to all Lebanese to “protect civil peace.” He addressed the country’s political parties, saying it is “our responsibility to protect Lebanon.”
The protests express widespread anger at corruption, dysfunctional government and the deterioration of basic public services. A reform package promised by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri last week failed to satisfy the demonstrators, who want a full resignation of the cabinet and an overhaul of the country’s sectarian political system.
Regardless, the protests remained rather non-violent, with protesters even cleaning the streets after their demonstrations. No deaths were reported, and there only injures in the first several days of the protests.
Al-Hariri said he would submit the entire government’s resignation to Lebanese President Michel Aoun. It is unclear if whether the president will also resign, as the protest is not only against Hariri, but against the entire ruling elite.
The resignation goes against the Hezbollah movement, whose leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah twice said he was against such a step, citing the risk of a dangerous void.
This creates a dangerous potential for instability in the country and in the Middle East. The austerity measures that led to the protests, including a tax on WhatsApp messages were mostly rolled back, and significant reforms were promised, but they were all rejected by protesters. It is likely that the turbulence in Lebanon is just beginning, as it is unclear how debt crisis would be dealt with, among other issues.
This is the 2nd time Saad al-Hariri resigns as Prime Minister. The first resignation took place in 2017. On November 4th, 2017 in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, Hariri tendered his resignation from office, citing Iran’s and Hezbollah’s political over-extension in the Middle East region and fears of assassination. Iran completely rejected the allegations, saying that it was a US, Israel and Saudi Arabian plan to fuel Middle East tensions.
There are livestreams showing the situation, which appears calm as of 4:30 PM local time.
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