Another night of clashes was reported in Lebanon on Tuesday, December 17, in the ongoing nationwide anti-government protest movement. In Beirut, security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters after they set tires on fire and threw stones at police. Those participating were supporters of the Shi'a Amal political party who gathered due to tensions over a video considered insulting to the group days prior. Some sources indicate that 65 police officers were injured overnight. In Tripoli, acts of vandalism were reported and in Sidon, unidentified men attacked protest tents.
Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri have both called for a cessation of violence, after several days of clashes between protesters, Hezbollah supporters, and Amal supporters.
Another night of heightened tensions indicates that additional protests and clashes are likely to continue in the coming hours and days. Transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near any demonstration site.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The announcement sparked mass protests across the country on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Since, protests have evolved, calling for the resignation of the government and have continued despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. Former finance minister, Mohammad Safadi, who was expected to be appointed as Hariri's successor, declined on November 17, stating the difficulties to form a legitimate cabinet. On December 16, President Aoun delayed a parliamentary session to name the appointment of the next prime minister, which is widely expected to once again be Hariri.
Individuals in Beirut, and in Lebanon more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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