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Protests in Beirut. Photo: Maxim Grigoryev/TASS via Getty

Lebanon's prime minister and cabinet have resigned amid massive protests in the aftermath of a deadly explosion in Beirut that killed more than 160 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless.

Why it matters: Protesters blame the incompetence of the ruling elite — widely viewed as corrupt — for the disaster. The unstable and deeply distrusted government will remain in place in a caretaker capacity until a new prime minister is selected.

Driving the news: Three cabinet ministers resigned in recent days, making Prime Minister Hassan Diab's position increasingly untenable. The entire cabinet resigned on Monday, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters. Diab then addressed the nation to offer his own resignation. He took office in December.

"I discovered that corruption is larger than the state, and that the state cannot overpower it."
— Prime Minister Hassan Diab

Between the lines: "[T]he resignation of Lebanon's government does not mean early elections. It means the appointment of a new prime minister by the existing parliament, and all the political issues that come with it," the Economist's Gregg Carlstrom points out.

  • Lebanese politics is a corrupt and generally ineffective balancing act between the interests of powerful factions, including Hezbollah.
  • The militant group dominates Lebanon's parliament, and its ally Iran has warned that it must not be sidelined as Western governments tie recovery aid to political reforms.

The big picture: Lebanon was already suffering through the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling financial crisis before last Tuesday's explosion, and many government services — from garbage collection to electricity — were limited or lacking altogether.

  • Then came the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. Protesters blame corruption and incompetence for it having been left insufficiently secured in Beirut's port for nearly seven years. They have called for the entire ruling elite to fall.
  • An international aid conference on Sunday raised $300 million in pledges from countries and international organizations, but leaders warned the money would not be disbursed without reforms of Lebanon's politics and economy, per the AP.

Go deeper: What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Go deeper

Nov 10, 2020 - World

Exclusive: Bahaa Hariri says Lebanon and Israel should resolve disputes, move toward peace

Bahaa Hariri, the billionaire son of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, told Axios he thinks Lebanon and Israel should resolve their border disputes and move toward a peace deal.

Why it matters: Israel is an enemy country under Lebanese law, making this a very unusual statement from a member of one of Lebanon’s most prominent political dynasties. Bahaa’s brother Saad is currently trying to form a new government in Lebanon and is known for holding hardline positions on Israel.

Nov 10, 2020 - World

As Trump fights the transition in D.C., the world moves on to Biden

"Next." Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Governments around the world are preparing to work with President-elect Biden — but they still have to navigate what could be a bumpy final 10 weeks of President Trump.

Split screen: Around the time Biden was holding his first call as president-elect with a foreign leader, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump was firing his secretary of defense, Mark Esper.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.