Lebanon faces social chaos amid economic deterioration

BEIRUT, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Economic deterioration in Lebanon and impoverishment of its citizens, even if not a revolution, will eventually lead to chaos and social explosion, analysts say. "The current economic situation will worsen and lead to turmoil. People will take to the streets and protests will grow," Sami Nader, director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Lebanon, told Xinhua. Nader explained that people are pushed into poverty and joblessness while the lack of basic services add to their anger. "Prices will go up with the rise in the U.S. dollars and the peg policy of the Lebanese pound to dollar is not sustainable anymore because reserves of the central bank are dwindling due to the big deficit in the balance of payments," he noted. On Friday, opposition party protestors broke into the parliament for the first time to demand new parliamentary elections, voicing their anger at the country's failing economy. In the past years, Lebanon has been facing severe economic challenges with the failure of successive governments to offer citizens basic services such as electricity, water, high-quality education system, as well as proper healthcare and infrastructure. The influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon in the wake of the Syrian civil war in 2011 exacerbated the situation, causing many Lebanese people to lose their jobs because of the competition from much lower-paid Syrian workers. All these factors prompted the Lebanese from all sectors and regions to stage demonstrations over the past few weeks to protest against dire economic circumstances, lack of proper basic services and corruption. Lebanese officials made several promises to implement reforms that would improve the economic situation by reducing the budget deficit which reached 11.4 percent of GDP in 2018. However, no serious reforms could actually be made under the current anti-reform "sectarian system," according to Nader. "The sectarian system is locking reforms. This system is distributing everything among sectarian groups and political parties who represent them," he explained. "All they will do is to add taxes on citizens because no minister will cut down his ministry's budget," the Lebanese expert lamented. Wehbe Qatisha, a Lebanese lawmaker, agreed that when poverty grows to a great extent, it will certainly lead to chaos. Qatisha, however, ruled out the possibility of a unified revolution in Lebanon as the Lebanese are divided according to sects and political parties.   Hanna Gharib, general secretary of Lebanon's Communist Party, explained that the current situation will certainly push people to the streets and the factors needed to start a revolution are there. "But we cannot be sure that a revolution in Lebanon would be successful. We are still at the beginning of deterioration and the number of people participating in repeated protests is still not up to the required level," he said. For Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani, the lack of proper reforms in the country will definitely lead to social imbalance and an increased lack of trust in the political system. "This will eventually lead to chaos. When people's basic living requirements are affected, we do not know where this may lead," Hasbani said.