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The Rendon Group Snapshot Report
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Unrest in Lebanon
A demonstrator reads graffiti on a wall in Beirut amid a protest against the Lebanese government (AFP)
This week’s snapshot focuses on anti-government demonstrations in Lebanon spurred by the government’s failure to resolve the ongoing trash crisis. The mounting piles of garbage on the streets of Beirut are the latest sign of political and infrastructure meltdown in Lebanon, which has not had a president for more than a year. Protesters, which have been organized by the “You Stink” campaign, have called for the current government’s resignation.
News summary of events during the week of 24AUG15 – 31AUG15
Sample of Twitter handles regarding unrest in Lebanon
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding unrest in Lebanon
Maha Yahya, senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Centre
“People are on the streets because they feel that at every level there is no one there for them. Basic conditions have deteriorated in this country, in the past year in particular. Electricity, water, jobs, education, health, all of these people are very concerned about…It’s an alarm bell for all political leadership.”
– Lebanon protesters postpone demonstration after violence, Agence-France Presse, 24AUG15
Rami Khouri, senior fellow at the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut
“It shows the Lebanese society to some extent is catching up with the rest of the Arab world in terms of popular protests against the central government…I see this potentially if it grows as the beginning of a serious challenge to the sectarian system. So either (the government) has to change or it has to become more efficient and more equitable.”
– Lebanon’s trash pileup turns into violent, political mess, CBS News, 24AUG15
Jad Chaaban, professor of economics at the American University of Beirut
“This mobilization we see today is different. It is not politicized; it is not linked to any political movement. This is important — the movement was able to unite people who are disgusted by politicians.”
– Lebanese hold mass ‘You Stink’ rally against politicians, Agence-France Presse, 29AUG15
Firas Maksad, Lebanese political analyst and founder of the Washington-based consultancy Global Policy Associates
“I actually think that Lebanon’s archaic sectarian system is deep in patronage and corrupt, but it’s also an accurate reflection of Lebanese society. I think the Lebanese with the garbage crisis are being forced to face their own rotten reality.”
– Anger Over Garbage in Lebanon Blossoms into Demands for Reform, Wall Street Journal, 28AUG15
Imad Salamey, associate professor of political science at the Lebanese American University
“What we have in Lebanon is a consortium of sectarian networks operating as social welfare providers in various regions under religion auspices, with sectarian and local leadership substituting almost everything that the government should be providing.”
– Lebanon: Shiny on the outside, rotting from the inside, Associated Press, 28AUG15
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to unrest in Lebanon
1. Thousands of Lebanese protesters pour into Beirut square
Media: Associated Press
Byline: SARAH EL DEEB
Date: 29 August 2015
BEIRUT (AP) — Thousands of people poured into a major square in downtown Beirut Saturday amid tight security, in the largest of the demonstrations that began last week over garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut following the closure of a main landfill.
The government’s failure to resolve the crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990. Protesters carrying the white, red and green Lebanese flag filled up the square known as Martyrs’ Square.
2. BLOG: Lebanese Activists Mock ‘Beirut Wall’ Meant to Block Protest
Media: Open Source (New York Times)
Byline: Robert Mackey
Date: 24 August 2015
Supporters of Lebanon’s “You Stink” protest movement — who were confronted with water cannon and tear gas over the weekend when they took to the streets to demand a solution to the trash crisis in Beirut — ridiculed the authorities online Monday for trying to stifle dissent by erecting a concrete blast wall around the seat of government.
As the movement’s leaders promised that demonstrations would continue despite the threat of violence, social networks filled with images of a new row of concrete slabs installed outside the office of Prime Minister Tammam Salam in the Grand Serail, an Ottoman-era building in the center of Beirut.
3. As Trash Piles Up, So Does Contempt for Lebanon’s Government
Media: New York Times
Byline: ANNE BARNARD
Date: 27 August 2015
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Mohammad Rizk sat glumly in his sandwich shop on Wednesday, waiting for customers. The scent of roasting chicken mingled with the fumes of a trash pile just outside. The garbage heap, which seemed to have taken on a life of its own, now dominated the curb where his drive-by clients once idled.
Mr. Rizk, 39, has a degree in economics. Yet without clout in any of Lebanon’s sect-based political parties, he said, he could not get a job in that field, and found himself slinging shawarma in a hot hole-in-the-wall. It was a lot he accepted until this summer, when political gridlock halted trash collection, a relatively reliable public service in a country with precious few of them, and sent protesters into the streets.
4. Protesters raise a stink as Lebanon’s garbage crisis worsens
Media: Los Angeles Times
Byline: NABIH BULOS
Date: 28 August 2015
Protesters took to the streets Wednesday in Lebanon’s capital, where demonstrations over uncollected trash have grown into a movement calling for the fall of the government.
Beirut has been shaken by daily unrest since the weekend, when security personnel deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to break up two massive demonstrations. Enraged protesters retaliated with barrages of rocks. Hundreds of injuries were reported on both sides.
5. “You Stink” campaign to LBCI: 500 volunteers tasked with organizing today’s rally
Media: Lebanon Broadcasting Corporation
Date: 29 August 2015
“You Stink” campaign activist Asaad Zebian declared that 500 volunteers will be tasked with coordinating with the security forces, Red Cross and civil defense teams, in order to keep up with the rally during the demonstration, which is set take place in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square today (Saturday) at 6 pm.
In a statement to LBCI’s Nharkom Said, Zebian reiterated his call for the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammad al-Mashnouq, holding accountable those who opened fire at protesters and resolving the waste crisis.
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