SITUATION UPDATE BRIEF – LEBANON: EXPLOSION CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT NEGLIGENCE WILL DRIVE INSTABILITY

Key Takeaways


 The 4 August blast in Beirut have placed even greater financial pressures on Lebanon’s government and its population at a time of unprecedented economic difficulty. The stability of Hassan Diab’s administration has been severely undermined and anti-government protests are already surging.

Sectarian tensions are rising, particularly between Shia militant and political organisation Hizballah,
who are key backers of the government, and their opponents. A UN court decision on four Hizballah fighters accused of killing PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 is due on 18 August and could drive further violent protests in Beirut.

While some international donors will provide short-term, targeted financial assistance to mitigate the impact of the destruction of Beirut’s port, this will not provide a lasting solution to the country’s multiple financial crises. These will continue to build, maintaining pressure on the political class.

Overview


A large explosion at roughly 1800 hrs on 4 August in Beirut’s port area has killed more than 150 people and injured at least 4,000 others. The blast, caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a port warehouse since 2013, according to Lebanese officials, has largely destroyed Beirut’s port facilities and caused substantial damage to buildings within a 2-mile radius.


The government is already facing mounting public anger over its handling of the financial crises which have escalated dramatically since the country’s first sovereign debt default in March, compounding longstanding grievances that spilled over into widespread anti-government unrest late last year. The government’s inability in recent months to overcome internal sectarian differences has seen the risk of financial meltdown rise sharply, one aspect of which has been a collapse in the value of the Lebanese Pound, while poverty levels
have soared to 60%…..

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