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Hour of reckoning looms for Lebanon as violent anti-government protests hit Beirut

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20.01.2020

Hundreds were injured this weekend during violent clashes which pitted protesters against security forces in Beirut as Lebanon further slips into civil unrest, underpinned by calls for a complete institutional overhaul.

Months into an uprising which sought to unite a country otherwise defined along ethnic and sectarian lines, Lebanon – and more so its capital are now centre stage for violent confrontations between a system characterised by an antiquated neo-colonial worldview and the hopes of a people wishing to redefine their identity through national unity and cohesion.

At its heart, Lebanon’s crisis is a great institutional shakedown of a system which, by the very nature of its structure, can no longer sustain the aspiration of its people – who do not wish to be boxed in on account of their faith, origins or even the expectations foreign powers may still hold in regards to their assumed political alliances.

With every call for change protesters have made since October 2019, it is the death of the Taif Accord which the Lebanese are clamoring for. The agreement further asserted the 1943 National Pact and forever locked Lebanon in a political system underpinned by sectarian limitations and quotas.

And though in theory this system did offer a modicum of stability at a time when Lebanon was ravaged by civil war, offering political representation to Lebanon’s many religious groups through the strict division of parliamentary seats and governmental positions, it quickly devolved into a tool for powerful elites to monopolize the economy.

Thus Lebanon’s very own brand of ethnic clientelism was born, a dangerous institutional cornerstone to lean on if we consider just how many regional wars have been waged on account of competing theologies.

President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who built a career on his alliance with the powerful........

© RT.com