In Lebanon, mass anti-government protests that started last Thursday are now a multiday general strike. These demonstrations appear to be the largest and widest-reaching in the country’s history. On Monday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded with proposed concessions, saying that protesters have shaken the political parties and challenged blind loyalties to sect. But protesters aren’t buying it.
And while Hariri is seeking international support for the reforms, protesters are calling for his government to step down. That’s because protesters see the suggested reforms as just minor tweaks to the status quo, and they have reached a point where they are aggressively challenging the failed economic systems that have governed Lebanon for decades. They don’t seem willing to accept less than major structural change. The question is what move they will make next.
A closer look at Hariri’s proposed reforms and why they won’t work
Most of Hariri’s proposed reforms would be implemented by current ministers and their staff, who have an interest in the status quo. The people are aware of this and no longer trust the system. In fact, recent Arab Barometer findings indicate that less than 20 percent of Lebanese trust government institutions, and 96 percent believe that corruption is endemic. The only institution that respondents reported trusting, at a level of 86 percent, was the military.