Lebanon’s Breaking Point

Conditions are ripe for an uprising, which would have profound geopolitical consequences for the region.

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Roughly this time last year, I spent a week in Beirut for field research. I was there to learn about drug markets, specifically how drugs make their way into Lebanon from Syria. I left Beirut with an even greater impression of the country’s burgeoning political crisis. Even in 2019, you could feel Beirut was reaching its breaking point. Frequent electricity cuts, trash-littered streets, high inflation, a paralyzed government, sectarian infighting and waning protection of civil liberties created an aura of doom and gloom. The hopelessness was tangible. Whoever you asked, the answer was generally the same: Lebanon was on the precipice of collapse. It got worse as the year went on. A combination of poor living conditions and chronic governmental mismanagement sparked months of nationwide protests and crackdowns. Frequent resignations and low public trust in officials created a leadership deficit that current Prime Minister Hassan Diab is still struggling to fill. The economy, meanwhile, fell into disrepair. Rampant inflation, sky-high fuel and food prices, and an 80 percent decline in the lira created new levels of destitution. And to top it all off, Lebanon was also devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the year many believed nationwide protests, a currency […]

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Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.