Lebanon police clashes with retired soldiers trying to storm government HQ


Lebanese security forces fired tear gas during clashes with retired soldiers at a protest in Beirut on Wednesday who were trying to storm the government headquarters in central Beirut. The incident was the latest manifestation of public anger as Lebanon’s economic crisis continues unabated.

The incident took place outside the headquarters, known as the Grand Serail. The protesters were mostly retired soldiers and were demonstrating against their low pensions and the poor economic conditions in the country.

“My monthly salary is $40. How can I live?” shouted one protester, according to the Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.

Some of the protesters tried to break through the fence leading to the building. Security forces then used tear gas on the crowd, Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported.

Background: The Lebanese crisis began in 2019 and was characterized by rampant inflation, the collapse of the national currency, food and medicine shortages and political paralysis. The international community is reluctant to provide substantial aid to Lebanon without major governance and corruption reforms.

President Michel Aoun’s term ended in October and parliament has been unable to agree a successor since then. International and domestic inquiries into the chief executive of the Central Bank Riad Salameh, who is accused of a giant sword, have not yet yielded results.

Why it’s important: Protests took place during the Lebanese crisis. In February, angry mobs burned several banks in Beirut in response to the currency devaluation. Protesters also regularly block roads.

Wednesday was not the first time that members of the security forces joined the protests. Late last month, police raided a bank in southern Lebanon demanding their salaries be paid.

The Lebanese military is suffering from desertions due to the soldiers’ salaries being devalued due to the currency collapse.

More information: The Lebanese pound traded at 114,000 to the dollar on Wednesday, according to the Lira Rate website. The currency hit a then-low of more than 100,000 to the dollar last week and has fallen further since.

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