Security fears in Lebanon are escalating amid a crippling economic crisis that has seen the salaries of army soldiers drop to $33 a month. The local currency, the Lebanese pound, has depreciated by more than 90% against the US dollar on the black market.
Perhaps what exacerbated security fears is that bank heists in Lebanon have become a growing trend – but armed “robbers” storming into banks are not stealing anyone else’s money. They are just demanding access to their own savings.
The incidents have become increasingly common as Lebanon’s economic crisis persists. Many believe that the phenomenon is set to rise amid popular frustration among depositors about their inability to get back their money soon. Three years into the crisis, the Lebanese government has failed in finding a clear economic and financial plan to determine the fate of depositors’ money.
A source at the Forces of Change parliamentary group, who requested anonymity, predicted that more “robberies” will take place as the currency continues to depreciate and hit unprecedented levels.
“The World Bank asked a number of experts a while ago to study the worst scenario that Lebanon might witness if the collapse continues, and three scenarios have been developed,” the source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Noting that Lebanon has already entered the second phase, the source explained that the third scenario, which is feared most by observers, entails total security chaos spilling from Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli to Palestinian refugee camps and eventually spreading nationwide.
According to the source, Forces of Change deputies had warned Lebanese political leaders of potential security chaos sweeping the Mediterranean nation.
“The only way to prevent reaching this stage of collapse is to hurry to elect a president, form a government, approve the recovery plan and sign an agreement with the IMF,” explained the source.
“Otherwise, we will be heading towards chaos,” they warned.