It would be difficult to describe the shitstorm that Lebanon endures on a daily basis. This is a country that is still struggling to find itself after a 17-year civil war that ended almost 30 years ago. Corruption exists in every level of its government branch. The economy is a wash, literally; the economic system now deemed a “failure” with a need create a new one. All this while its currency is rapidly inflating, quickly losing its peg to the dollar. Its debt sits pretty at 3rd highest in the world. Unemployment and poverty levels are high, and a surplus of one million Syrian refugees only adds more pressure to that. Lebanon would be the prime example for “ Murphy’s Law”: everything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong.

Coronavirus

Add coronavirus to the mix and what you are left with, essentially, is a proverbial shit stew, with a novice chef trying to salvage it, in order to feed the scores of starving people, who expect nothing less than a perfectly cooked rib eye steak. However, rookie Prime Minister Hassan Diab, his government, along with its Ministry of Health, led by Hassan Hamad, have done a good job thus far, in containing Covid-19 or “coronavirus”. Schools shutdown immediately after first contamination, the whole country was sent into quarantine that has lasted several weeks. Self isolation and social distancing, two things that seem to be the go to methods of containing the coronavirus, are the same two things us Lebanese are horribly bad at doing. Yet with all the odds stacked against us, Lebanese tend to act self entitled, putting self interests first, jeopardizing everyone else. Chances are people will eventually go out, defying Government induced quarantine and isolation. We all need a breath of fresh air. That’s understandable. What’s not understandable is gathering in groups out in public, or choosing now out of all times to protest something. Be fucking smart about it.

Old Dog. Same Tricks

It’s laughable, yet sad really, that during this critical time, we’re reminded that conniving Lebanese politics is still alive and well, dirty power plays still it’s driving force. Today, Government resignation is a real possibility apparently. In the most crucial moment in not only the country’s existence, but also the world’s, Lebanese politician’s toy with a government vacuum like it’s all just a game to them. Central Bank appointment’s has political parties battling it out, in order to bulldoze their personal agendas; bolster their political clout, sacrificing the whole country in the process. It’s seems that every time Hassan Diab’s government starts to make some leeway, it becomes derailed by the gun being pointed at its head. When the government was first formed, I wondered what kind of idiot would take any of the ministerial jobs. It’d be like someone choosing a casket for his or her own funeral. What is being played out now, in the political arena, is very much that same scenario. In my opinion, if anyone should resign and leave the regime to clean up their own mess it’s Hassan Diab.

“Self Isolation and social distancing, two things that seem to be the methods of containing the coronavirus, are the same the two things us Lebanese are horribly bad at doing.”

Through Sickness and Through Health

Lebanese expats have two legitimate concerns; fear of coronavirus, and lack of access to their money. A plan to bring registered expats back home will commence this coming Sunday. So bring them home, let them be broke here, makes no difference. But lets just hope this too doesn’t fall under the guise of corrupt Lebanese politics. Coronavirus doesn’t cut any corners (that’s right all you 13 year olds), so we shouldn’t either. Lebanese have a right to come back. It’s on the government and embassies, to see the process through correctly. Allowing a wave of possibly infected people back into the country at this time, without proper testing and follow up, would do serious damage to our health sector. We would jeopardize all the efforts, thus far, of containing the virus. It would be a shame to see what’s happening in Italy or Iran, happen in Lebanon, because of a Wasta exercised here or there. Here’s to hoping that the government does the impossible and successfully pulls this ond off. Although harkening back to my point about Murphy’s Law and its relation to Lebanon, I’m not too optimistic.

So far So Good

It’s not all bad in Lebanon at the moment. We’re dead broke, have no semblance of a clear economy. Our banks along with our politicians are thieves. We’ve defaulted on all our debt so in all likelihood no international donor will ever work with us ever again. But when you look at what’s going on in the world as a whole… we ain’t that bad. It’s actually GOOD the economy was so shitty in the first place. That way we had no problem throwing it under the bus; shutting everything down. Other countries, they wasted precious time going back and forth. They were concerned about unemployment numbers, the poverty line, stock markets… you know, pety shit. They needed to consider these things before announcing a nationwide shutdown. In Lebanon we don’t care about ANY OF THAT. We ran through past all the “legalities” and went straight to shutting shit down. So I say that to say this: stay home. Watch a series. Show us your baking skills, PLEASE. Or whatever it is you do when you’re forced to introspect because you’re not at the same club that you’re always at every weekend. Whatever you do, don’t be the asshole that fucks it up for everyone else. Self-quarantine and social distance. Remember those terms. They very well may be terms of the future, so you better get good at them today.

*Side note: A point to be made about all the Lebanese banks. I don’t get why they are not receiving much more scrutiny and attention at this moment in time. It’s bad enough capital controls are still ongoing at a time where money is essential for everyone. Banks act as if their LENDING people the money, and not like DEPOSITS are people’s hard-earned cash. Its ridiculous, and more than that, its insulting. Nothing justifies what their doing, especially that as a sector they have made hundreds of millions of dollars in profit in the last 10 years. That’s all I’ll say about Banks simply because right now the main concern is about saving lives, not life savings. That being said Banks not only need to come to a solution, but also step up their efforts a WHOLE lot in helping Lebanon fight this pandemic, or you can expect things to turn ugly quick.

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2 thoughts on “A Nation Of None- Lebanon Braces For The Worst

  1. Beautifully written with a refreshing perspective, perfectly sums up the situation.

    “It’s actually GOOD the economy’s was so shitty in the first place. That way we had no problem throwing it under the bus; shutting everything down”

    That made me laugh, sad yet so on point and so true.

    This type of writing is what I have been craving for a long time as Lebanese expat.
    Please keep it up.

    Stay sane and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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