Despite the ayatollahs blood-thirstily demanding vengeance, the consequences of Qassem Soleimani’s killing aren’t particularly impacting the Western world, or even overseas-based US forces. Rather, they are playing out in the cities of Lebanon and Iraq, and even Iran itself. Political tensions are boiling and casualties are mounting.
Three months into the Lebanese uprising and confrontations between the police and protesters are taking an increasingly violent turn, with 400 casualties over just 24 hours at the weekend. Meanwhile, with each new day we hear claims that a government of “technocrats” is closer to being formed under Hezbollah’s choice of prime minister, Hassan Diab. Yet protesters know that, as long as designated ministers are beholden to key factions, the same corrupt, clientelistic practices will continue. Indeed, Gebran Bassil, Hassan Nasrallah and other self-interested factions are furiously competing to maximize their share of seats and perpetuate their monopolization of power and resources.
The Americans have finally woken up and begun putting pressure on the parties; emphasizing that support can only resume if a clean, competent and independent government is formed. The World Bank and other major donors are ready to roll out cash injections of billions of dollars if the requisite reforms are introduced. Yet Tehran deliberately throws spanners in the works because, from its point of view, it is better Lebanon be a conflict-blighted, bankrupt basket case than it opens its doors to Western assistance.
Meanwhile, rumors are flying that Hezbollah activists have been steering the rioting and attacks on public buildings, hoping to terrorize citizens into believing that the best they can hope for is to re-embrace the corrupt, sectarian, impoverished status quo.
About 300 Lebanese banks and ATMs have been attacked by masked assailants. Banks have been the focus of public anger because they exemplify the unhealthy relationship between money and politics. A kleptocratic class has bled the economy white, triggering a financial crisis that elites have exacerbated by smuggling their ill-gotten wealth outside the country. With the currency in freefall, ordinary Lebanese are obstructed from withdrawing their hard-eared savings.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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