The Lebanese Economic Crisis
A few weeks ago, a bank in Beirut, Lebanon was held Hostage by Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein. The 42-year old delivery driver, armed with a shotgun and a cannister of gasoline, was threatening to set himself on fire if he was not allowed to withdraw his savings – which he said was needed to help pay for his father’s medical expenses. After the six hour bank siege, Bassam left the bank with $30,000. The heist was met with great fanfare, Bassam al-Sheikh was hailed as a hero for the Lebanese people, who are currently suffering under the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
The economic turmoil has been ongoing since the 2019 Financial crisis. Banks were unable to pay their depositors, which lead to them closing doors. All the while, the Government had began to default on it’s foreign debt. Foreign donors also began to withhold billions of dollars in investment and the currency collapsed.
Mass protest emerged soon after people realized the scale of the crisis. The Lebanese people hit the streets demanding accountability and justice. Many were calling for the removal of political elites and militia leaders from the parliament.
Today, Lebanon is still struggling with the crisis. After the compounding problems of the pandemic and the tragic Beirut port explosion, the situation has been gradually getting worse. By some estimates Lebanon’s debt is at 495% of its GDP as of 2021. The country is still grappling with one of the most severe economic crises seen in the world since 1850.
Dr. Mariam Farida joined the Wednesday Daily to discuss and give insight on the current economic crisis.