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New Line Magazine’s ‘Bank ‘Robberies’ Are a Symptom of Deeper Crises in Lebanon’

Lebanon, Sept. 19, 2022 (New Lines Magazine)

This past week, there have been numerous incidents of people breaking into banks and demanding the money in their bank accounts. Since Lebanon’s economy crashed in 2019, banks regularly and are currently undergoing a period of freezing their assets and locking depositors out of their accounts. Not only are citizens unable to withdraw money from their accounts, but the economic situation continues to regress; the Lebanese pound continues to decrease and more than 80% of people now fall under the poverty line.

While there is an extensive list of contributors to the crisis, ranging from decades of war and a burdening public debt, the main reason the condition of the Lebanese economy continues to worsen is the greediness and inaction of the government. The Lebanese people have tried to get the government’s attention by years of peaceful and violent protests as well as politically by the use of the ballet box; each ending in failure and without support from the government.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the leaders of the Lebanese government are more focused on keeping their wealth and power, than creating an economic recovery plan. The political leaders are untouchable; they do not have a plan to help the people, nor will they allow others the power to do so. 

With what feels like no other option, the Lebanese people have taken matters into their own hands. On the one hand, the people are providing their own self-help; they can no longer patiently wait for the government to help, but must go and reclaim their money themselves. On the other hand, people are now contributing to the crises by not only committing crimes, but are taking money from other people who wish to draw their funds as well. 

Source (CNN)

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After reading, I now have a better understanding of the existing political and economic conditions in Lebanon. Economically, the economy has been in decline for decades and will continue digressing unless the government actively tries to find solutions; this is very unlikely. Politically, numerous leaders sit at the top of the political order, freely committing injustices without punishment, ignoring the disastrous economy, and dismissing the cries for help from the common man. 

With these understandings, one may wonder how the government will handle the media; specifically, the news coverage of the crisis, as well as the potential for the public using the media as a platform to share their grievances and further spread the ‘self-help’ initiative. In the next couple of days, we will see if the government will try to censor the media; both preventing reporting on their, rather embarrassing, economic situation and in regard to the people, whether the Lebanese government, threatened by the spreading public civil disobedience, will constrict the citizen’s ability to use the media. 

Finally, I am left thinking about what the public will do if the robberies prove ineffective and fail? What will people turn to next; a coup, a wide spread movement of robberies, or just pure chaos? What else do the Lebanese people have to lose?

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1 Comment

  1. Allison Christopher

    I find your questions about how this situation will continue really fascinating. I feel like the questions you pose at the end ask whether these robberies are the beginning of a larger movement. As someone else studying Lebanon for the course I also want to see in what ways the economic situation will fuel other events in the region.

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