Lebanon PM demands Turkish help to beat garbage crisis

Lebanon PM demands Turkish help to beat garbage crisis

Lebanon PM demands Turkish help to beat garbage crisis

Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam heads a cabinet meeting at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon August 27, 2015. Reuters Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has offered to help his Lebanese counterpart Tammam Salam in overcoming the huge garbage crisis in the country, which has shaken Salam’s national unity government amid angry street protests. 

The two leaders spoke on the phone, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 28, quoting prime ministry sources, who said the Lebanese leader requested Turkey’s previous experience on the issue.

Davutoğlu responded by promising to send a technical team to Lebanon as soon as possible, the agency reported. 

He also ordered the Environment and Urbanization Ministry to set up a team for the task. 

Meanwhile, Lebanese security forces have orders to show restraint at a planned mass protest against the country’s government this weekend, but will not tolerate attempts by “thugs” to make trouble, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Aug. 28.

Two rallies in the capital of Beirut last weekend drew 20,000 people, and dozens were hurt in clashes between protesters and security forces at the time.

The protests have been driven by anger over garbage piling up streets of Beirut, following the closure of a main landfill. The government’s failure to resolve the trash crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990 and is widely seen as dysfunctional.

Interior Minister Machnouk said non-violent protests would be permitted.

“We are committed to protecting any citizen who expresses himself through peaceful means,” he said.

At the same time, there is concern about “attempts by thugs to exploit the rally in order to vent political frustrations and spite,” Machnouk warned. He said troops would be deployed to prevent any attempts to break into government buildings.

He also vowed that troops suspected of using excessive force last weekend will be held accountable.

“There were mistakes that happened on Saturday [Aug. 22] when I was out of the country,” he said, blaming lack of coordination between the various security agencies. 

Organizers have rallied support under the slogan, “You Stink,” in reference to both the garbage crisis and the political establishment.

The campaigners say they are trying to end a patronage system that divvies up power to each of Lebanon’s multiple communities - Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Druze and more. That system has been the center of Lebanese politics for decades and helped fuel the 15-year civil war.

Critics say politicians spend more time cultivating their sectarian fiefdoms than actually governing.