Wednesday 11 December 2019
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The News - 29 days ago

?Sister protests?: Lebanon, Iraq look to each other

BEIRUT/BAGHDAD: A Lebanese flag flutters in the protest-hit Iraqi capital. More than 900-km away, a revolutionary Iraqi chant rings out from a bustling protest square in Beirut. Don t trust the rumours, they re a group of thieves, sings a group of Lebanese musicians in Iraqi dialect, referring to political leaders they deem incompetent and corrupt. The identity is Lebanese, they continue, reworking the chant by Iraqi preacher Ali Yusef al-Karbalai, made popular during the street movement there.Such recent shows of solidarity have become a common feature of protest squares in the two countries, where corruption, unemployment and appalling public services have fuelled unprecedented street movements demanding the ouster of an entire political class. They serve to shed light on similarities between the two movements and boost morale , said Farah Qadour, a Lebanese oud musician. The two streets are observing and learning from each other, said the 26-year-old who is part of the group that adopted al-Karbalai s chant.In Lebanon s southern city of Nabatiyeh, hundreds brandishing Lebanese flags chanted: From Iraq to Beirut, one revolution that never dies. And in the northern city of Tripoli, dubbed the bride of Lebanon s protest movement, a man standing on a podium waved a wooden pole bearing the flags of the two countries. From Lebanon to Iraq, our pain is one, our right is one, and victory is near, read a sign raised during another protest, outside Beirut s state-run electricity company. In Tahrir Square, the beating heart of Baghdad s month-old protest movement, demonstrators are selling Lebanese flags alongside Iraqi ones.They have hung some on the abandoned Turkish restaurant, turned by Iraqi demonstrators into a protest control tower. Banners reading from Beirut to Baghdad, one revolution against the corrupt could be seen throughout.Lebanon and Iraq are ranked amongst the most corrupt countries in the region by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, with Iraq listed as the 12th most corrupt in the world. Public debt levels in both countries are relatively high, with the rate in Lebanon exceeding 150 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). What s happening on the streets in Iraq and Lebanon, they re sister protests, said Samah, a 28-year-old Lebanese demonstrator.

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