With the US dollar exceeding the 15,000 Lebanese Lira threshold, people took to the street as inflation skyrocketed. Supermarkets shut their doors, and fights over food produce escalated into armed clashes in some areas.
Lebanon’s hunger revolution has begun.
As it spills onto the streets of Lebanon, the moment rests on a knife-edge that can lead either to real change, or slip into street warfare.
The worse is about to happen. The people can sense the chaos approaching.
Everyone knows the dire economic situation, and it is not farfetched to see a shortage of subsidized goods, continuing spiraling inflation and little hard currency available in Lebanon.
On the security level the latest statistics published by the Lebanese internal security, crime increased significantly, with murders jumping 45 percent in the past year, and reported thefts 144 percent. Can this be contained? Probably not.
What needs to happen is making sure people do not turn against each other as they fight over essential items. Instead, channeling their anger and frustration into an organized movement geared to tackle the political class, before the parliamentary elections in May 2022, is essential.
By coordinating the population to force their own demands, real change is inevitable.
Lebanon has entered a new phase. People know that there are no international governments that can save them. It’s up to themselves to save the country as one organized movement.
The peaceful and hopeful October 2019 protests flopped. Today’s streets look demoralized and hopeless. The collapsing society can follow different paths. The street conflicts and increasing crime is expected, but will always be erratic.
Going hungry is something entirely different. People have little choice but to react and force change, so not all hope is lost. One way to channel the inevitable collapse is to keep the protest movement focused. It is no longer enough to go on the street, burn tires, and criticize the political class. A strategy is needed, led by the main opposition groups in Lebanon, with a simple goal: to determine the parliamentary elections’ outcome.
This requires three initiatives.
First, for the civil society groups must put their differences aside, work with other opposing leaderships, such as Patriarch Bechara Rai. Support his initiative, and accept the backing of some political groups who are outside the system, such as the Kataeb and its leader Samy Gemayel, who supported the October 2019 protests, and has refused to be part of the government.
Second, all these groups should form a single political front, and counter Hezbollah’s attempts to flood the streets with rhetoric. Since 2019, this group has managed to infiltrate the streets with groups and slogans that are less focused on them and their allies, and instead directed against their opponents, with the banking system, the Central Bank, and their political opponents its focus.
Hezbollah divided opinion, and today are attempting to control it. Regaining the voice of districts across the country must happen; it’s the only route left for the people. The groups that fought the terrorist’s rhetoric and succeeded in conveying the truth in 2019 should come back as one unified and strong voice, with clear demands and a solid strategy.
Third, the international community has made it clear that no help is forthcoming unless the Lebanese people start helping themselves. Rightly so. It is up to the public to show the international community that the people support proper change, but need extra support to make sure that elections take place on time, transparently, and under international supervision.
Current attempts by Hezbollah face challenges created by people’s distrust of the political elite, the protests’ ability to pressure for any change, and attracting international attention.
But, the crux of the changing mood in Lebanon is the diminishing amount of food on the dinner table.
When the spark of the hunger revolution ignites, an organized public movement will bring real change. The chance to create a united front is upon the people of Lebanon.