Beirut port explosion two years later: open wound festering as authorities try to close case

It was 18:07. Thousands of lives were turned upside down, and the Lebanese capital, not alien to natural disasters, turned into hell.

Like a broken clock, the catastrophe appears to have stopped in time. Thursday marks two years since the explosion in the port. However, the eastern districts of the city suffered the most. bear the scars of the explosion. Relatives of at least 215 dead are still fighting for justice. The forensic investigation into the explosion stalled. And the huge wheat silos at the port, which survived the explosion despite their proximity, had been on fire for weeks.
Two years after the explosion Lebanese political elite — known colloquially by the pejorative term al-sulta, or “power,” — eluded justice and tried to sweep memory under the proverbial rug. For activists, especially relatives of the deceased, this was painfully reminiscent of how the civil war in the country ended in 1990.

An amnesty law then exempted Lebanon’s belligerents from apparent crimes against humanity and war crimes, including massacres, rapes, extrajudicial killings and mass displacement. There are no records of the 15-year conflict in the country’s official history books. The entire population was ordered to move on.

A year after the Beirut bombing, survivors are still grieving, angry and still waiting for justice.

The authorities’ response to the 2020 port explosion, which remains the deadliest explosion in modern Lebanese history, causing material and physical casualties up to 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away, was similar.

Over the years, the government has repeatedly blocked judicial investigation accused several officials of criminal negligence in connection with the improper storage of up to 2,700 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate, the ignition of which led to a devastating explosion. Some of those who were indicted were re-elected to parliament this year.

Earlier this year, the government also unveiled plans to demolish the damaged bunkers, drawing the ire of the families of the victims, who consider them a monument to the disaster. The government yielded to popular pressure and the plan was rejected.

But weeks later, the building began to burn, arousing suspicion among activists and relatives of the deceased. They accused the government of half-hearted attempts to put out the fires, a charge it denies. When two bunkers finally collapsed over the weekend, the activists boiled over.

“For several weeks you let the bunkers burn slowly and did not take any serious action to stop the fire,” activist Lucien Bourgeilly tweetedapparently appealing to the political establishment. “The collapse (of the bunkers) today is reminiscent of the collapse of a state that is slowly falling apart, without any serious action to stop it or bring those responsible to justice.”
What we still do not know about the explosion in the port of Beirut

Wheat silos in Beirut are many things at once. They stand like a magical tombstone of a bygone era. The smoldering structure also seems festering, like an open wound in the city’s collective memory. And importantly for the relatives of the victims, it marks the scene of the crime, the oncoming mass, which serves as a reminder of the pursuit of responsibility.

After the explosion, Lebanon’s financial tailspin, which began in October 2019, has continued. The country is experiencing a grain crisis, partly due to the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also due to Lebanon’s infrastructural and financial decline. Its economic woes – inflation, rising unemployment, mass poverty – are unabated.

But for many, the subsequent crises did not eclipse the memories of the explosion in the port of Beirut: shattered glass that crunched underfoot a few weeks later; scenes of crowded hospital wards; those who died and those who barely survived. For those seeking justice, the events of 18:07 on August 4, 2020 should continue to reverberate until those responsible are brought to justice.

Digest

Israeli Lapid Makes Rare Allusion to Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Arsenal

Israeli PM makes rare hint in a speech on Monday to the country’s widely suspected nuclear arsenal.
  • Background: Appearing at an event marking the change of leadership in the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, Yair Lapid spoke about Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as what he called it “other capabilities” – realizing that this is a reference to nuclear weapons. “The operational arena in the invisible dome above us is built on defensive capabilities and offensive capabilities, as well as what the foreign media tends to call “other capabilities.” These other opportunities keep us alive and will keep us going as long as we and our children are here,” Lapid said.
  • Why is it important: It is widely believed that Israel possesses several hundred nuclear warheads, having developed this technology in the 1960s. Unlike most supposed nuclear powers, Israel has never officially claimed possession of it. Instead, he pursues a policy of “non-transparency” – meaning that Israeli leaders, when pushed, prefer to make only oblique or ambiguous references to nuclear weapons.

Yemeni belligerents extend truce for another two months

Yemen’s belligerents agreed on Tuesday to extend a two-month truce, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement. The rival sides agreed to extend the truce for another two months.

  • Background: “I am pleased to announce that the parties have agreed to extend the truce under the same conditions for another two months, from August 2, 2022 to October 2, 2022,” Grundberg said in a statement. “intensify negotiations in order to reach an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible.”
  • Why is it importantYemen’s Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition have been at war for the past seven years, but agreed on April 2 to a two-month truce brokered by the United Nations, which expires on Tuesday. The opposing sides have yet to agree on a permanent ceasefire.

Biden admin approves potential multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

The Biden administration on Tuesday approved and notified Congress of possible multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Background: The US State Department has approved the possible sale of the PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) and related equipment to Saudi Arabia for approximately $3.05 billion. The US government also approved a possible sale to the UAE of “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles, THAAD fire control and communications stations, and related equipment at an estimated cost of $2.245 billion.”
  • Why is it important: The approval notice comes just weeks after President Joe Biden met with UAE and Saudi leaders in the Saudi city of Jeddah last month. It also comes amid US efforts to force oil-rich countries to increase oil production and as allies in the Gulf express concern over what is perceived as a weakening US security presence in the region. The approval was also reported on the same day that the United Nations announced a two-month extension of the truce in Yemen.

day number

$704 million

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenue was $704 million in July, the highest monthly revenue ever, according to a statement from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) released Tuesday. The record figure rose by 32.4% compared to the same month last year, the SCA added.

What’s in trend

Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune has said he is interested in joining the BRICS, a group of emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Tebbun said that his country met the conditions for joining the group.

The hashtag has been trending in Algeria and most users have welcomed the initiative. One wrote of the news that it would “make our voice even more audible”. Some users wondered what the group’s new name would be, as it is composed of the first letters of each member country, one of which wrote: “Algeria wants to join BRICS… BRICS?”

Kuwait: #Memory_of_Iraq’s_brutal_invasion

“Remembrance of Iraq’s brutal invasion” became the number one trend in Kuwait this week as users shared old speeches by then Emir of Kuwait Jaber al-Sabbah and a video of his return from Kuwait. exile in March 1991.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait in an apparent attempt to pay off debts accumulated from the country’s eight-year war with Iran. This invasion was the first domino to fall in the run-up to the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

The number one hashtag in Jordan this week, #Jordan_is_not_okay, was prompted by Parliament’s decision to raise MPs’ monthly salaries by 200 JD ($282). Parliament defended the decision as compensation for higher fuel prices.

Twitter users were outraged. One wrote: “A member of parliament whose salary exceeds 3,000 JD ($4,230) receives a fuel allowance, but Jordanians with a salary of 400 to 450 JD receive nothing… I don’t understand anything.” Another user tweeted an image of a block of cheese in the shape of Jordan being eaten by rats, with the caption “This is how I see Jordan…”

Mohammed Abdelbari

Photo of the day

An aerial view of the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni carrying 26,527 tons of corn from the Ukrainian port of Odessa as it arrives at the Black Sea entrance to the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey, August 3.