I went to withdraw $700 from the ATM and the machine was out of cash once again. Banks are not allowing transfers to outside the country, so my company can’t pay our suppliers in the US, and thus we can’t process orders. One customer order has been stuck for 2 weeks with FedEx because the Ministry of Telecommunications, which has to approve the package, has been closed with no indication as to when it will re-open. We won’t be able to make payroll next month because our investors pulled out, saying that they’re struggling to save their own businesses which are choking under the bank closures and absence of cash. And yet, it seems like it’s about to get much worse.
Two weeks ago, the protests in the street claimed a victory when Prime Minister Hariri resigned. We held our breaths as we waited for a new corruption-free government to form and get us out of this mess. My feelings are turning to dread as I realize why a new government hasn’t formed yet: it’s locked in an epic battle between regional forces, with the US and international community on one side, and Hezbollah and Iran on the other. The latter has made it clear that they’re willing to fight to the bitter end, with Nasrallah boasting that they can continue to make payroll even in the event of Lebanon’s complete economic and security collapse. This doesn’t bode well for Lebanon.
The only way Lebanon can survive is with investment from the international community, which is conditional on Hezbollah being outside of the government. Hezbollah is willing to go down with this ship and they have half the country behind them. The international community is willing to let the ship go down and take Hezbollah with it. All signs point to the ship going down. In the best case, it’s an economic collapse. In the worst case, it’s a civil war.
My company and livelihood are on this fast-sinking ship. It’s starting to seem pertinent to consider my evacuation plans. If my business doesn’t get another investment and has to shut down, I’ll try finding some other way to pay the bills, but if the bullets start flying, I hope that I can make it to the airport before it shuts down.
I have no regrets, even if I find myself escaping on a plane. It’s been an incredible journey so far. I hope that I can continue this journey and that it doesn’t come to a premature end.