Lebanon’s waste war escalated yesterday when angry demonstrators tried to pull down razor-wire barricades and storm the parliament in Beirut. Riot police responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets – actions that wounded more than 35 Internal Security Forces (ISF) members and an unspecified number of protesters, according to an online statement released by Lebanon’s ISF.
Images of live action from the streets quickly posted to social media, including several shots of bullet casings, stirring rumors that Lebanese police were using live ammunition. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed that he did not order police to open fire on protesters.
Last July, the nation once dubbed the ‘Switzerland of the East’ grabbed headlines for its new mountains of trash when Beirut's city landfill closed, and a new dumpsite designation was deferred due to political squabbling.
Vermin-infested piles of rotting food and waste are understandably intolerable. Add that to daily power cuts and chronic water shortages, and it's no wonder that Lebanon sits near the bottom on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index of 2014-2015, a report that assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens.
See some of the action on the summer streets of Lebanon, without having to don a gas mask.