A note from the Salvage editors: Since July, protests have been occurring in Lebanon against the failure of the government to agree a new contract for waste disposal and the consequent build-up of rubbish in the streets. Some of these protests took place spontaneously in poorer neighbourhoods, and some were organised by social media campaigners using the hashtag ‘YouStink’. The demonstrations reached a high-point on Sunday the 23rd of August, when some 20,000 protestors gathered in front of the Parliament building in Beirut: state violence followed, with one demonstrator killed by a shot to the head from the security forces. ‘Troublemakers’ and ‘thugs’ were naturally blamed for this outcome. The demonstrators have used the slogans of the 2011 uprisings elsewhere in the region, calling for revolution and the downfall of the regime. The regime in question is the system of corrupt, sectarian paralysis between two competing blocs, the pro-Iranian, pro-Bashar Al-Assad ‘March 8th’ with Hezbollah at its heart and the pro-Saudi ‘March 14th’. There has been no president for over a year, and the parliament, having proved unable to agree a new electoral law, has simply extended its own mandate.More
Nadia Bou Ali teaches at the American University of Beirut, and is co-founder of the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research.