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Lebanon, the Pearl of the Middle East

by Oui Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 09:15:43 AM EST

Divide and Conquer ... how de-colonialization and faction infighting destroyed a beautiful nation. Democracy never took hold and foreign interference led to total corruption.

The economic crisis, corona pandemic, lack of political leadership and now an apocalyptic explosion and obliteration of the port and neighbourhoods has put Lebanon on its knees.

More below the fold ...

Lebanon still harbors millions of Syrian refugees ... to rebuild a nation under these circumstances will be a collossal endeavor.

In my opinion, the state of Lebanon is today much worse off than at the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990.

The birth of Hezbollah and the Sunni-Shia divide is also a major cause of the impotence of the people and its leaders.

The Western policy of interference in its former colonies and mandate territories has been dead ended in the Middle-East and North Africa ... Afghanistan-Iraq-Egypt-Libya-Syria. The situation between the Jewish State of Israel and the Palestinian people has to be taken into account ... a Gordian Knot in a region where East meets West.

Paradise transformed into a hellish society and a valley of tears. War destroys people, does not bring peace, freedom or democracy.

Massive explosion in Beirut port area rocks Lebanese capital, at least 78 killed | CNBC |

The Lebanese Red Cross said that hundreds of people have been rushed to hospitals, and tweeted an "urgent call for blood donations" at its transfusion centers across Lebanon. Beirut's hospitals have been overwhelmed, with local reporters tweeting images of medical staff treating patients in a parking lot.  

Beirut's governor, Marwan Abboud, called the disaster a "national catastrophe," breaking down into tears as he toured the city.

Numerous countries have offered to come to Lebanon's aid, including France, the U.S., the U.K., Qatar, Iran and, more unexpectedly, Israel -- with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations and is technically still at war.

Yep, Israeli rescuers would certainly love to find enemy nr. 1 the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah.

Gantz: Ashkenazi is Blue and White's pick for defense minister | Israel Hayom |

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz: I want Gabi Ashkenazi, who rehabilitated the country after the Second Lebanon War, as defense minister, and Moshe Ya'alon as education minister, so he can heal the rifts in Israeli society.

Ashkenazi Criminal Investigation: IDF Chief Sold Advanced Weapons System to Iran Ally, Son Pocketed Commission | Tikun Olam - Feb. 2011 |

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 09:37:51 AM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 09:46:21 AM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 09:50:02 AM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 04:14:31 PM EST
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Beirut Blast Wrap-up | MofA |

In 2013 Lebanese authorities arrested a ship (pdf) that had been abandoned by its owner.

    On 23/9/2013, m/v Rhosus, flying the Moldovian flag, sailed from Batumi Port, Georgia heading to Biera in Mozambique carrying 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate in bulk.

The ammonium nitrate was stored in a quayside warehouse. The picture shows the 1,000 kilogram big bags labeled "Nitroprill HD" in bad storage conditions at the 'Hanger 12' warehouse in Beirut.

"Nitroprill HD" is a knock-off product of the trademarked Nitropril, a premium grade porous prilled ammonium nitrate manufactured and sold by the Orica Mining Services in Australia. It is used as a commercial explosive in mining and quarrying. The safety sheet of the original product says it "May explode under confinement and high temperature, but not readily detonated. May explode due to nearby detonations."

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 11:20:43 AM EST
Warnings by Port Authority left unheeded | Al Jazeera |

The ship's dangerous cargo was then offloaded and placed in Hangar 12 of Beirut port, a large grey structure facing the country's main north-south highway at the main entrance to the capital.

Months later, on June 27, 2014, then-director of Lebanese Customs Shafik Merhi sent a letter addressed to an unnamed "Urgent Matters judge", asking for a solution to the cargo, according to documents shared online.

Customs officials sent at least five more letters over the next three years - on December 5, 2014, May 6, 2015, May 20, 2016, October 13, 2016, and October 27, 2017 - asking for guidance. They proposed three options: Export the ammonium nitrate, hand it over to the Lebanese Army, or sell it to the privately-owned Lebanese Explosives Company.

One letter sent in 2016 noted there had been "no reply" from judges to previous requests.

It pleaded: "In view of the serious danger of keeping these goods in the hangar in unsuitable climatic conditions, we reaffirm our request to please request the marine agency to re-export these goods immediately to preserve the safety of the port and those working in it, or to look into agreeing to sell this amount" to the Lebanese Explosives Company.

Again, there was no reply.

A year later, Badri Daher, the new Lebanese Customs Administration director, wrote to a judge once again.

In the October 27, 2017, letter, Daher urged the judge to come to a decision on the matter in view of "the danger ... of leaving these goods in the place they are, and to those working there".

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 11:35:36 AM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 11:36:08 AM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 11:37:37 AM EST
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Waste Away - The Baffler
A massive private holding company bought out the entirety of the downtown area - which had been the front line between the two divided halves of Beirut - promising to build a shiny new city out of its ruins. One that would look very much like the pre-war city, with its romantic, pale-yellow mandate-era buildings, but sleeker and more modernized. For a single private company to acquire so much prime land - most of which still technically belonged to the homeowners and shopkeepers and businesses who had waited fifteen long years to reclaim their holdings; some of which was public property and belonged to the municipality and hence the people - required certain zoning and property laws to be rewritten outright. There was very little outcry, except from those who had been swindled out of what they owned. At the time, too many people were invested, either financially or emotionally, in seeing the war come to an end to care about how the city's future might be made to emerge from the rubble of its past.

Downtown Beirut went from blasted wasteland to massive construction site overnight, with individual lots encircled by steel fences, upon which were digitally rendered images of the buildings that would sprout there, the apartments they would house, and the people who might live there (a vast majority of whom were inexplicably blond). There were also always a few lines of copy richly proclaiming the virtues of these soon-to-be dwellings. Some variation of "exclusive private luxury in the heart of the city" or else "luxurious private exclusivity." Really, the most the copywriters could be bothered with was to scramble the order of these words, occasionally also throwing in promises like "haven" and "retreat" and "elegant" and "singular views."

[...] The holding company's slogan, etched into the hundreds upon hundreds of cement barricades erected to mark the limits of its empire, declared Beirut "an ancient city for the future." A rebranding of the old national myth, one predicated on continuous destruction: Beirut, the phoenix, the city that had been destroyed and rebuilt seven times over the centuries would yet once more rise, glorious and triumphant, from the ash.

by das monde on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 12:38:03 PM EST
Achour Development founded in 1991 ...

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 07:10:53 AM EST
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Israel offers Lebanon medical assistance after Beirut blast | Al-Monitor |

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the mediators who reached out to Lebanon on behalf of Israel were France and the United Nations' peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL.

"We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted.

An unnamed Israeli intelligence official told The New York Times that Israel was not involved in Tuesday's explosion in Beirut.

Tensions remain high between Israel and Hezbollah. The militant group has vowed retaliation for a June 20 Israeli strike outside the Syrian capital of Damascus that killed one of its senior fighters. Israel has since deployed additional forces in the Galilee and last week announced the military foiled a Hezbollah raid along its northern border.

The Israeli military's Arabic spokesperson tweeted in the wake of the blast Tuesday that "this is the time to transcend conflict" and focus on providing humanitarian support.

In addition to Israel, a number of countries pledged to come to Lebanon's aid. Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Iran is prepared to help "in any way necessary," and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States stands "ready to assist the people of Lebanon as they recover from this horrible tragedy."

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 12:59:16 PM EST

Youm-e-Istehsal Kashmir: India learned how to change regional demography from Israel, says President Alvi  | Dawn Pakistan |

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 12:59:54 PM EST
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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 01:32:24 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 01:34:55 PM EST
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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 06:21:25 PM EST
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Marwan Hamadeh, 80 years old, retires from Lebanese politics

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 02:07:14 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 02:38:26 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 06:22:09 PM EST

While offering medical supplies to Lebanon through UN Reliëf Agency ...

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 06:39:57 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 06:41:00 PM EST
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Opinion Israel Is in Shock, in a Sickening Show of Hypocrisy
By Gideon Levy

Official Israel presented itself as shocked at the disaster that struck its neighbor, Lebanon, yesterday. Almost everyone put on a sorrowful face. Except for Richard Silverstein, who writes a blog, Tikun Olam, no one accused Israel of causing the disaster. Except for Moshe Feiglin and a few other racists, no one expressed satanic joy over it. Fortunately, former Israeli army spokesman Avi Benayahu ran Feiglin out of the race: "With such statements, you don't belong to the Jewish people," declared Benayahu, the man of Jewish morality, and the stain was removed.

The Outsider | NY Times - 1999 |

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 08:12:53 AM EST
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Beirut death toll rises to at least 135 ... | CNBC News |

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 06:58:33 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 5th, 2020 at 08:15:24 PM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 09:07:39 AM EST
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Lebanon's Tripoli port to become regional strategic hub in 2022: director

Tripoli Port's Director General Ahmad Tamer said that the port will turn by 2022 into a strategic logistic location not only in Lebanon but also in the region.

"We received an approval for a loan from the Islamic Bank for 86 million U.S. dollars which will enable us to equip the port with the latest technology and infrastructure to restore its important role in the region," Tamer told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

The loan, Tamer added, will be used to rehabilitate the infrastructure inside the port, including the roads network, bridges, car parkings, buildings, electronic equipment, laboratories and cargo.

Tamer said that contracting companies will start their work in June 2019 by constructing bridges that link Tripoli's port to highways in Tripoli while in October 2019 the port will start to be equipped with the latest electronic devices and technologies.

"Within three years the port will restore its strategic role in the region," he said.

Tamer emphasized the importance of the port which is only 30 kilometers away from Syria which will enable it to play a great role in Syria's reconstruction.

Tripoli a hotbed of Sunni terror ...

Al-Qa'ida's Presence and Influence in Lebanon | CTC - 2008 |

Tripoli, Hub of Jihadist Salafism | Oasis - Nov. 2018 |

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 09:10:44 AM EST
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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 08:19:37 AM EST
Lebanon's crisis complicated by Gulf rivalry | FT - Jan. 2019 |

Lebanon is used to thriving on the edge of a financial precipice but its current crisis is complicated by the interjection of Gulf rivalry.

Qatar has shown its support in dollars, 500m of them in a last-minute bond purchase, along with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani's presence at the Arab summit in Beirut, which no other Gulf leaders attended. Unwilling to be outdone, Saudi Arabia's finance minister verbally pledged support for Lebanon on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar increasingly see their roles as arbiters of regional politics, as well as a prime source of development finance. Gulf states are increasingly using direct financial support to expand their influence across the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and into Pakistan. The end goals of these direct central bank deposits and commitments of foreign investment are vague, as is the conditionality of their acceptance.

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one side and Qatar on the other is bound to bring instability to Lebanon's already fragile politics and finances. Saudi Arabia has long been a source of external support to Lebanon in direct aid and loans, and through remittance flows, investments in construction and real estate and, until recently, a steady stream of Saudi visitors flush with cash on summer holidays.

Gulf money flowed into Egypt of Gen. al-Sisi to expand the Suez canal and industrial investments. Former president Morsi was from the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by the Obama/Clinton administration, Turkey of Erdogan and Qatar. Qatar money also flowed to Hamas which helped to oust former dictator Mubarak and freed Morsi through a violent jail break.

Lebanon's Saad Hariri held hostage by Crown Prince Salman in the Kingdom

From the diaries ...

Lebanon's Choice: Pro Colonial West or Shia Terror

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 09:08:53 AM EST
I've hidden the worst of the conspiracy theories being amplified here.

I'm not paying to amplify their reach.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 11:04:19 AM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 12:51:23 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 02:23:42 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 02:50:10 PM EST
To become a great teacher, one should first be a pupil and learn the lesson of finances, investment and reform ... Dutch PM Mark Rutte 🤣

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 03:42:38 PM EST
Great opportunty in Lebanon for China and Russia and their CIS Alliance ... completing the Crescent from Pakistan to the Mediterranean Sea. At last casting aside the Baghdad Pact and the Western enclosure formed by CENTO.

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 03:54:28 PM EST
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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 03:57:24 PM EST

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 04:00:20 PM EST
Le terroriste de l'ONU Netanyahu brandissant la carte détaillée du port de #Beyirut qu'il a décrit comme le site où le Hezbollah stocke des armes.

Mais rassurez-vous, l'explosion au Liban était un "accident".

Joshua Landis Retweet ...

Did Trump Bomb Syria on False Grounds? | The Nation |

From the diaries ...

The Hague: OPCW Crisis Deepens

British Media and the Headline OPCW Report

My diary ...

1 - 2 - 3 TO WAR :: 3 - 2 - 1 FIRE!

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by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 6th, 2020 at 04:54:01 PM EST

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