By Antoine Abou-Diwan
Thousands filled the streets in downtown Beirut starting mid-2015 through 2016 in protest against a political class that they say is corrupt, and a government that is unable to provide basic services.
The protests began in reaction to a trash crisis caused by the closure of the Naameh landfill.
Without an alternative place for the trash, the waste company Sukleen suspended operations, leading to tons of stinking garbage to pile up in the streets.
The grassroots movement “You Stink” sprang up in response to the trash crisis. It eventually spawned other campaigns calling for government accountability, the resignation of long-time politicians and an overhaul of the entire system.
Most protests were peaceful. Some turned violent, with police beating protesters, and using water cannons and teargas to disperse crowds.
The government has since opened two landfills, and trash collection has resumed. But a long-term, sustainable waste management plan is nowhere on the horizon.