By Abir Bassam

Lebanon boiling over its harbor hot tin

September 18, 2020 - 23:17

What is being cooked in Beirut's harbor? It seems that there are urgent needs to keep Lebanon on guard.  The country is barely picking itself up after the blast on the 4th of August. Now, it is going through another dilemma as the fire burst on the 10th of September. The two major accidents suggest that the time has not yet come for Beirut to write its closure. 

 The Beirut blast came at a time when the region is preoccupied with finding settlements for its internal critical wars, which extend from Syria to Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. With Algeria alienated and Egypt preoccupied with the Ethiopian dam, the main Arab countries that constituted the Arab League's core are now marginalized. It also came at a time in which U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing towards implementing the “deal of the century”. He needs to prove himself as a worthy president.

Since the 4th of August, Beirut has been invaded by diplomats who are coming from different countries. They have brought their expertise to assist in investigating the causes of the explosion. They have come with supportive generous humanitarian aid for the disadvantaged of the blast. In addition, different battleships were about to reach the harbor in the name of protecting the Lebanese people. 

However, three days after the blast, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Jawad Zarif, visited Beirut. After meeting with the Lebanese officials, he declared, amongst many other things, that the battleships reaching Beirut are considered to be a great threat to the Lebanese people.

Zarif's visit must have played an essential role in the departure or the non-arrival of other battleships. No one was ready for any kind of confrontation, even military, in the region, which might empower the axes of resistance in Lebanon and the region.

Oddly, the indictments of corruption were escalating; it became deceptively redirected towards the resistance movement and its allies in Lebanon. However, this was not out of the ordinary. Shortly after the 17th of November's protests in Beirut, it was clear that there was a hidden agenda behind it. 

The eruptions turned into shouting choirs against the resistance movement’s weapons and at Diab's government, which was accused of being corrupt. Finally, the hidden weapons were out in the open, trying to light out the streets. 

The Beirut blast opened a new era of international struggle over the eastern Mediterranean. It moved Lebanon to a serious ferocity stage. The siege over the dollar slightly released, and its price went down, but the prices of the goods soared higher. 

After the siege imposed on Syria, Beirut’s harbor became the only competitor to Haifa's harbor in Palestine. Lebanese economists emphasized its important role in rebuilding Syria. However, the harbor today is partially dysfunctional. 

When the fires started on the 10th of September, it brought disturbing concerns to the Lebanese citizens, even the pro-resistance audience. One of them tweeted on Facebook: "My greatest concern if we were to import goods from Israel now!" He was one of many.

The fire of the "the 10th of September, in fact, has not any political aims. However, it revealed facts concerning stored smuggled and rotten goods. Given that, whoever has a part in igniting the fire, they must have been attempting to escape the responsibility of smuggled or stolen goods. It is a means to escape taxes and claiming insurance. The harbor's situation reveals that not only politicians are corrupt but merchants importing goods are also corrupt. 

The fire destroyed the aid the Red Cross has received, which was stored in containers near the fireplace. Hence, it is fair at least to doubt if other international aid commodities have been destroyed as well, or if someone is trying to cover up the true size of the aid.

Consequently, many of the aid found their way to the stores. In our neighborhood shop, I was offered to buy French sugar that came as aid within a reasonable low price, 3000 L.L for every kg! The same scenario was played in 2006 with the Arab and international aid that came after the Israeli war on Lebanon.

Even though the harbor today is under the supervision of the UNIFIL and the Lebanese army, no one was able to protect it from another fire. However, relating every fire in the harbor to welding iron is ridiculous. Through the years, the harbor witnessed repairs that needed soldering, which did not cause any fires. In all scenarios, the fire ended with digging in the wounds caused by the explosion and in recreating chaos. 

The aftermath of the Beirut blast resounded in Lebanon as much as the Rafik Al-Hariri assassination did. We need to learn to reread history and learn from it. Both tragedies brought the French through the main gate to Beirut. Both tragedies demanded disarming the resistance movement in Lebanon and alienating Hezbollah. However, the explosion took a bolder step. As it turned out, the calls now are redirected to isolate Hezbollah partners from the government: mainly Amal Movement and al-Maradah, (i.e., Sulieman Franjiah). It shows American boldness, which resembles its president's rudeness as he displays pictures of American fighters during his meeting with Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Both events had consequences; the first resulted in the succession of the assassination of Lebanese figures, while the second a series of fires followed by a series of riots. In the first, the national government headed by Omar Karami resigned, and the American government of Fouad Siniora came. In the second, the national government of Hassan Diab resigned, and Mustafa Adeb was nominated. The latter is now supervised by Saniora in the creation of the new government, as special resources explained.

The main goal is boldly expressed today, which is to end the region's resistance movement and provide a safe and prosperous environment for Israel. Since the American political and strategic goals of the war on Syria have failed, it became crucial to annihilate resistance in Lebanon. The Americans need to step it up before the final political compromises in Syria. 

In conclusion, it became necessary for the Americans to implement the policy of normalization with the Israeli, based on the principle of "kidnapping in succession" to besiege the resistance axis through a series of trade relations with the (Persian) Gulf states. Therefore, the attempts to open up to Syria were put on hold. The failure to defeat the axis of his resistance, and pushing it towards normalization, necessitated new American plans.

It became indispensable to return to creating unrest in Lebanon and driving it towards a new civil war. The Americans believe that civil war is the only possibility to preoccupy the resistance from targeting the Zionist regime. Once Beirut's streets would burst again, we might witness the return of the "New Jersey."

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