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Lebanon Reopens Entrances to Downtown Beirut after 4 Years of Closure

Lebanon Reopens Entrances to Downtown Beirut after 4 Years of Closure

Thursday, 4 January, 2018 - 10:15
Lebanese army soldiers remove a concrete block in downtown Beirut, Lebanon January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanese security forces removed security barriers around Parliament Square on Wednesday, upon an order issued by Speaker Nabih Berri to reopen the entrances to the area, following the “decline in security threats”.


A military source supervising the opening of the passages surrounding the parliament said that as soon as Berri issued the order to loosen security measures, “military personnel started to remove all barriers but we have kept control points to intervene when necessary.”


The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the security situation in the area was now “highly stable.”


The area was closed almost completely in 2014, after security threats by extremist organizations, which carried out terrorist operations in several Lebanese regions. The measures intensified following demonstrations by civil movement groups in central Beirut, to protest Lebanon’s waste crisis.


Metal gates leading to Parliament were removed early last year, while the remaining concrete barriers were completely removed on Wednesday, paving the way for the return of normal life to the Beirut Central District.


The economic burden sustained by investors in this area has increased dramatically over the past four years, with business levels falling to 3 percent as a result of the tight security measures.


A manager at a clothing store at Al-Maarad Street told Asharq Al-Awsat that the staff was reduced from 16 to two, while many shops were closed in the streets around Parliament Square.


The situation necessitated political interference following the decline of security threats. Under the patronage of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, New Year’s Eve celebrations were successfully held in Nejmeh Square, with the aim of “restoring life”, followed by Berri’s decision to reopen passages to the area and remove the surrounding security barriers.

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