Could Beirut’s Garbage Crisis Be Lebanon’s Tipping Point?

Could Beirut’s Garbage Crisis Be Lebanon’s Tipping Point?
A Lebanese woman covers her nose from the smell as she walks on a street partly blocked by piles of garbage, Beirut, Lebanon, July 27, 2015 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

It is not every day that a population gets to experience the failings of government quite so pungently. Beirut, the cosmopolitan capital of Lebanon, has been choking in garbage. A brief respite due to a partial temporary solution will soon come to an end, and authorities are warning of grave health consequences if rotting refuse and garbage fires start choking the city again.

But Beirut’s garbage crisis looms as much more than a health, welfare or infrastructure matter. More than anything, it is an unmistakable, asphyxiating metaphor for the country’s precarious political situation.

And it may become the most unlikely of tipping points.

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