Thursday, January 21

Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned on Monday, opening up a political void as the country reels from an enormous explosion last week in Beirut.

In a televised address, Mr. Diab said he and cabinet ministers were blocked at every turn by political foes. He will take on a caretaker role as the parties in the Parliament consult with President Michel Aoun on choosing a new prime minister. The process could take months, and it is unclear who will take the reins of the government until a new cabinet is in place.

The fall of Mr. Diab’s government reflected how deeply last week’s explosion — which killed more than 150 people, wounded 6,000 and displaced hundreds of thousands — has rattled Lebanon. Many saw it as a sign of decades of mismanagement. (You can read about the anger among residents in Beirut neighborhoods in our Back Story below.)

On the ground: Protesters gathered near the Parliament building, saying resignations so far fell short of their demands for the ouster of the country’s political elite. “I have nothing to lose,” said Krystel El Khoury, a 24-year-old protester. “I just graduated. I’m an architect. I’m unemployed and I don’t have hope. Either we do this or we leave this country.”

Context: Lebanon is also struggling with soaring inflation and unemployment rates, protests over corruption, and rising coronavirus cases.

The Quarantine. Named for its history as a holding area for potentially infectious travelers, the neighborhood is poor, polluted and squeezed between the port, a major highway and a garbage processing facility.

“The Quarantine has always been neglected,” said Fakhrideen Shihadi, a Quarantine native who oversees its tin-roofed mosque. His employer, the processing facility, has stopped paying him since the economy contracted. He kept working anyway so he wouldn’t lose his job.

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