Timeline: Lebanon’s Annus Horribilis

Even before the devastating explosion in Beirut on Agust 4th, 2020 had been a year of turmoil for Lebanon, the small and perpetually vulnerable Middle Eastern state. Bordering Syria and Israel and with a refugee population that makes up over a quarter of the country's population, Lebanon has been beset by instability:

September 2019 – Protests take place in Beirut in the context of an economic downturn and declining living conditions, The value of the Lebanese pound has deteriorated. 

October 2019 – In a small country with a confessional political system that seeks to balance a range of religious traditions, cross-sectarian street protests take place in Beirut against government austerity, corruption and inadequate infrastructure. Prime Minister Saad Hariri announces the resignation of his government. The government had formed in  

December 2019 – Academic Hassan Diab, backed by Hezbollah, is named prime minister, but proves unpopular among protesters. 

14th January 2020 – Protests against the government resume after a period of quiet.

21st January – After months of limbo, a new cabinet of Hezbollah and allied MPs, who hold a parliamentary majority, forms and seeks to placate the protests.   

21st February – The country's first case of COVID-19 is confirmed in Beirut.

28th February – Lebanon bars all travel by non-residents, by all modes of transport, from the countries worst hit by COVID-19. 

10th March – Lebanon's first COVID-19 death is recorded.

21st April – Nine people are killed in a knife and gun attack in Baakline, 45km south of Beirut.

30th April – Lebanon defaults on its sovereign debt for the first time in its history, adopts a new economic plan and vows reforms.

May – Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to secure economic aid stall. Lebanon has apparently not implemented the reforms insisted upon by the IMF. 

27th July – An exchange of fire takes place between Israeli soldiers and four members of Hezbollah.

3rd August – Lebanon's foreign minister, Nassif Hitti, resigns citing the government's mishandling of the crisis.

4th August – A massive explosion occurs in the capital city of Beirut, causing destruction and homelessness on a huge scale. At the time of writing the confirmed death toll was over one hundred.

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