Selfie Robin Hoods tell a new tale
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
Have you heard of selfie Robin Hoods? The trope of robbing the rich to serve the poor has been turned on its head by desperate Lebanese people who have been hit by the worst economic crisis in their war-torn country. It seems three instances have been reported, of Lebanese citizens with no criminal record holding up a bank– only, once they have the terrified bank staff at gunpoint, they withdraw their own life savings and leave.
In Lebanon, once the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, the savings of depositors have been devalued and trapped in banks for almost three years. With no other access to their own money, their “criminal act ” is winning the sympathy of the public.
Lebanon’s financial collapse since 2019 is the result of corruption and mismanagement as a sectarian elite borrowed with few restraints. The World Bank went so far as to accuse the Lebanese authorities of operating “a giant Ponzi scheme” that has “caused unprecedented social and economic pain”. The report said public finance was used to capture the state’s resources for political patronage, creating a “deliberate” depression.
It added that a “significant portion” of people’s savings had been “misused and misspent over the past 30 years”. Above all, it is a warning note to all countries of what happens when a selfish and clueless political class fragments the power structure and gives over control to an authoritarian and extremist power – in this case, Iran.
In today’s Beirut, you will see two clashing sights: streets full of recently imported luxury cars and the beaches and restaurants packed with expat Lebanese who have come home for the summer – at the same time, children are also sifting through dumpsters for scraps with their malnourished parents, while gaunt retirees, whose savings have been lost in the crisis, spend stifling summer days without power in their tiny, cramped apartments.
This is why we in Bahrain are so lucky that our reputation as a respected international banking centre is rooted in transparent and strict banking laws governed with a firm hand and impartiality by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The fate of Lebanon is a warning bell for us to preserve our good fortune and strengthen our leadership.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism