The road from central Beirut to Dora area is unusually car-free at noon. This same highway has always seen traffic jams before the October 17 uprising, and the Lebanese have long complained about it and demanded radical solutions.
The closure of a large number of businesses and schools, and the decision of many institutions to reduce the number of employees or their working hours due to the monetary crisis has automatically reflected on road traffic.
The war scenario is back to haunt the Lebanese, who have rushed in the past few days to buy necessities and supplies. Some supermarkets and bakeries had to take measures such as limiting the number of packs of bread that can be purchased, as well as bags of rice and some other basic items.
Pharmacies have also seen a big wave of rush, especially on infant milk formula. A pharmacist in Mount Lebanon recounted that one woman bought all the milk packs of a particular brand he had on the shelf, as well as all the diapers available, for her 8-month-old baby, which forced him to limit the number of milk packs a customer could buy to only three.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “The people are living with the obsession of war and preparing for it; so many deliberately buy large quantities of medicine for fear of [import] interruption.”
Shopping malls, which are usually crowded at this time of the year, before Christmas and New Year, are devoid of customers, prompting many shops to advertise early sales that did not attract shoppers. Those already find it difficult to withdraw their money from banks that no longer open as usual.
While most of the Lebanese are preparing for the war by withdrawing their available funds from the banks and stockpiling food and medicine, many are ready for leaving the country if the security situation further deteriorates.
A woman said she was issuing a passport for her 3-year-old child and a visa from the US embassy as she and her husband hold a visa, adding that she would not hesitate to leave the country if the situation took a dramatic path.
However, Riad Kahwaji, head of the Middle East and Gulf Center for Military Analysis, ruled out the return to war, stressing that the geopolitical situation that existed in the region and the world on the eve of the 1975 civil war in Lebanon was completely different from the current one.
“Today, all Lebanese regions and towns are rebelling against the regime and the political forces combined,” Kahwaji noted in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat.
“War needs armed parties and military forces, but today the only force capable of confrontation is Hezbollah,” he stressed.