Anger in Beirut: Analyst lists questions without answers

by WorldTribune Staff, August 7, 2020

The massive explosion that devastated Beirut on Aug. 4 left at least 150 people dead, about 5,000 injured and more than 350,000 homeless.

As more video and images emerge of the blast at the capital city’s port area, many questions remain about its cause.

Aerial footage of the Beirut explosion aftermath. / YouTube

Arabic affairs analyst Ehud Yaari said that a clear picture of the explosion has yet to emerge.

“We know that a Hizbullah man, the head of Hizbullah’s intelligence, was the one who rushed to say that this was all because of the ammonium nitrate which was being held there for seven years. The fact that he said that very quickly raises question marks for me,” Yaari, a senior analyst for Israel’s Channel 12 News, said in a Thursday interview on Radio 103FM.

Yaari said that he had compared the explosion in Beirut to similar incidents with the help of a team of chemists and found: “It’s a different kind of explosion, because it occurred in at least 2 stages.”

In contrast to past cases, Yaari said the reason for the Beirut blast is still unknown. “There is no explanation as to why for seven years since the ship unloaded this cargo in Beirut, for years nothing happened there. What someone did there may be malicious, but someone did something there that led to at least 2 explosions, and we do not have that answer.”

A government-led investigation is under way. Hizbullah regained a majority in Lebanon’s parliament in 2018 thanks to an electoral law designed to benefit the pro-Iranian group.

Yaari also noted that “when this hilarious commission of inquiry appointed by the Hizbullah-led government draws its conclusions, there will be some port workers there who will pay a heavy price. But that will not give the answer.”

Indeed, reports say that at least 16 employees of Beirut’s port have been detained in the investigation.

Yaari noted that the material held in the port is also used for the production of positive things, such as the “preparation of fertilizers for agriculture, but on the other hand they can be used for the production, and are used for the production, of industrial explosives. But they have another aspect, these materials can be used to make improvised fuel for missiles. “Someone was willing to accept this – and this someone must be in Hezbollah — that this 2,700 tons of material is just lying there in 64,000 sacks. The whole port was destroyed — at the moment Lebanon has no port.”

According to Yaari, 3,000 ships dock at the Beirut port every year, but without it Lebanon “won’t ask to use the Haifa port. Maybe they’ll ask to use a port from someone to the north. It should be remembered – the one who actually manages the port of Beirut … is (Hizbullah leader Hassan) Nasrallah’s brother-in-law. The head of Hizbullah’s security services, who is married to Nasrallah’s sister, he is the man. We remember the dismissive smile he had when he handed back the bodies of our two soldiers in that prisoner exchange. He is the man whose word is law in the Lebanese port. He is the one who should be questioned for answers, but he does not usually speak in public.”

Did the explosion undermine Nasrallah’s status in Lebanon? Is it possible that the incident will affect Hizbullah’s popularity in the country? Yaari answered: “Nasrallah is immersed in the mud up to his waist. It’s not that he is unaware of it. He knows he’s in the mud now. The public outcry in Lebanon is huge. 350,000 people lost their homes. Lebanon is not a state. It’s a rotting corpse of a state.”

Yaari went on to say of the current state of Lebanon: “This is a country that is in the pit of an $100 billion debt that it has no way to pay off. It is a country with 3.5 million people who have fallen into the depths of poverty. The general mood of the public in Lebanon is strongly expressed on social media, their anger is spreading to the entire political stratum in Lebanon, both to Hizbullah and to those who oppose Hizbullah. Because they have plundered the country through the banking system, and for years they have abandoned the citizens as they abandoned the ports. So everyone is guilty, and Hizbullah is guilty.”

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