Beirut: The Lebanese pound is the currency of Middle East’s Lebanon, which has plunged to a record low and caused severe repercussions across the country. On Saturday, protests erupted in several cities, including the capital Beirut, with groups of protesters reportedly storming the parliament entrance. Lebanon has been facing political instability for the past year and a half. The situation worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Beirut port blast. Now, the record fall in the currency has led Lebanon into a crisis – the brink of an economic collapse. The media claims that it will be the biggest threat since the civil war in the last century.
The Lebanese pound has crashed nearly 80 per cent in recent months. Nevertheless, Friday’s fall is the most significant so far. On Friday, the Lebanese pound reached 12,500 pounds to US dollar, sources said. Officially, the rate is only 1,500 pounds, but the dollar is not available for that much. There was a massive outcry among the people due to the sharp fall in the Lebanese pound, and the anger was vented out in the form of protests. In Lebanese capital Beirut, groups of protesters chanted anti-government slogans and stormed parliament. They even tried to get inside the parliament by climbing over the gates. However, the security forces thwarted the attempt. The angry protesters pelted stones and indulged in significant vandalism. Apart from Beirut, local agencies have reported violent protests in the cities of Sidon, Tyre and Tripoli.
Lebanon has been grappling with instability since October 2019. The country has not found a stable government as yet due to differences between political parties and conflict. As a result, the economy appears to be sinking further. To add to that, the coronavirus and the August explosion at the Beirut port only made the situation worse. In 2020, the Lebanese economy shrank by 19 per cent. The country’s debt has reached $90 billion, equivalent to 170 per cent of GDP. The Lebanese government has also failed to make debt payments.
Although Lebanon has received support from the United States, France, and some European countries, the efforts have not been very successful. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that Lebanon needed an urgent solution as it was running out of time and would slide into a total collapse. However, even as the internal situation escalates, Hezbollah, an influential political party in Lebanon, is threatening to wage war against Israel. But Israel has also delivered a befitting response to Lebanon with a stern warning that the Israeli action will shake it.
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