Lebanon in the Red for The Redline

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Amman- I have a new piece out this week for The Redline Podcast based on my recent experiences in a very troubled Lebanon. When last in the country in early 2019, it was in a far better place than it was upon my return last month. In that time, much of the world endured varying iterations of draconian pandemic lockdowns meant to stop or at least attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus until a vaccine could be formulated. Events were not kind to Lebanon in that duration as it slipped into a currency crisis, its shipping port exploded, and its power grid went offline. By the time I got back the place was in dire straits.

A mother and daughter look at the damage done by protestors to a bank branch in Beirut’s leafy Badaro neighbourhood. The vibe in the city feels just so despondent. ©2023 Derek Henry Flood

Oh and did I mention a domestic war on drugs also began with all this going on? Lebanon’s illicit narcotic trade production became too much of a liability after its Gulf trading partners to its south could no longer tolerate the inflow of drugs in their societies. The social cost was too high. What saddened me by the end of my time there was that after looking high and low I could not find a speck of hope. The political impasse was still deadlocked with regard to the presidency and the cabinet. Prices continued to go up. People talked about economic migrancy. I left feeling defeated about a place that is not my own but that I am drawn to. It’s difficult to articulate.

On the way out of town my phone flew out of my hand in traffic and was promptly crushed by the car behind us. Then once in the airport I was fretting so hard about my phone (which I need for like the next five countries) that I couldn’t repack my bags and security repeatedly sent me away to get everything wrapped in plastic at a cost which then cased me to almost miss my flight to Amman. That last day was sort of allegorical to the whole situation it felt like.

Ya Lubnan…