LHe is very heavy: more than 160 dead, 6,000 injured, more than 300,000 homeless and a large part of the buildings damaged. This explosion is both a consequence and a symbol of the bankruptcy of the Lebanese state and the negligence of these leaders.
Lebanon on the brink
Since October 17, 2019, Lebanon has experienced a popular mobilization that challenges the political power on the ground and demands the fall of the regime. This revolution expresses Lebanon’s anger at the economic crisis and institutional corruption.
Devaluation, lack of electricity, high cost of living contribute to the insecurity of a population walking the streets, defying the authorities and the health crisis, from April
The movement was slowed by the Covid-1
If he cannot make reforms that can get Lebanon out of the crisis, the government in power is accused of being the source of this collapse. Devaluation, lack of electricity, high cost of living contribute to the insecurity of a population taking to the streets defending the authorities and the health crisis from April. If mobilization has lost its reach, it tends to radicalize. Despite the health ban, it takes place regularly in all major cities, sometimes with violent conflicts with security forces and the army.
The Hassane Diab government, appointed in January 2020, has not been able to implement the necessary reforms to negotiate debt with the International Monetary Fund and save Lebanon from sinking.
In his closing speech on August 10, Diab blames the corruption of the political class. We must undoubtedly add to its low importance on the political spectrum, which has prevented any major reform.
The structural causes of popular mobilization
According to analyst Maha Yehya, four of the five key pillars that have long supported Lebanon have collapsed in recent months. First, the division of power between different Lebanese factions and societies does not work.
Second, the banking crisis and the tertiary sector mark the collapse of the Lebanese trading republic. This economic crisis is destroying the country’s third pillar, namely the middle class, which is poor and no longer finds a future in Lebanon.
A fourth pillar, freedom, is also crumbling. Since October 17, at least 60 people have been arrested for publishing information on social media.
Finally, the fifth pillar – the army and the internal security forces – which is still standing, now feels the effects of the crisis and is beginning to crack.
The perception of the collapse of these pillars of the Lebanese people is obviously due to its mobilization on October 17 and the explosion of nitrate in the port of Beirut.
Nitrate management, a symbol of collapse
Initially, there is the cargo from “Rhosus”, a ship carrying the Moldovan flag belonging to a Russian contractor transporting 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate on its way to Mozambique, which docked in November 2013 in Beirut. For reasons that have not been fully clarified, the company goes bankrupt, the cargo is seized and deposited in hangar 12 in the port of Beirut in August 2014.
The storage of a real powder keg in the heart of the capital and then the explosion, the refusal to take any responsibility at all, this is the symbol of the decay of the Lebanese institutions.
Since that date, the port authorities, customs, authorities have been informed, but nothing has been done to secure the port. However, a layer of fireworks next to this material was very explosive when the fire started, probably caused by welding of a hangar door.
State neglect and prudence combined with a neoliberal economy that handles maritime capital aimed at protecting companies at all costs is the origin of the double explosion in Beirut.
Seven years of doing nothing, storing a real powder keg in the heart of the capital and, since the explosion, refusing to take any responsibility at all, this is the symbol of the collapse of the Lebanese institutions.
“The revolution is born from the gut of sorrow”
“Revolution is born from the gut of sorrow“, Wrote the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. The Lebanese who are immersed in a deep economic crisis are being destroyed by this catastrophe. Their testimonies conveyed by the media reflect the astonishment, the sadness, the despair, but especially the rage against their government, which is responsible for this disaster.
As a result of the disaster, images of ruined streets and victims meander on national channels, reminiscent of the dark days of the civil war. But very quickly, a huge force is created around the inhabitants affected by the explosion, and Lebanese from all corners of the country flock to help clear the streets.
After the tears, the anger
At the same time, the calls to protest appear. The demonstration on Saturday 8 August is one of anger. In central Beirut, the gallows is held up and all political leaders from all parties are called.
On Saturday night, the protesters stormed the Foreign Ministry, but were released by the army. The following slogans could be read on banners displayed on the building: “Beirut, the capital of anger” and “Beirut, an unarmed city”.
The anger, enormous, is equal to the crime committed against the country
The power, but also the Shiite party in Hezbollah is accused of having been the origin of this explosion of part of the opposition. Although Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, denies any involvement in the blast, he is still shouted at by the furious crowd demanding the disarmament of God’s party and the departure of the warlords.
The government gave in, but the Lebanese are not fooled by politicians who would negotiate a government in their favor behind the scenes. Following Diab’s resignation, Parliament’s chief Nabih Berri and former Foreign Minister and Michel Aoun’s nephew Gibran Bassil are calling for the formation of a national unity government. These two politicians have lost the trust of the people and their proposal for a “unifying” government comes late and above all does not convince.
The Lebanese are more than ever determined to overthrow the regime, but will they be able to get rid of the warlords who have been exercising power and its division for more than 30 years? The road is long and difficult, but the anger, enormous, is equal to the crime committed against the country.