Analysis - Beirut blast anniversary: Who is afraid of probe?

Analysis - Beirut blast anniversary: Who is afraid of probe?

A year after the huge blasts of Beirut port, the situation remains far from normal in the country. While the Lebanese people expected to see plotters to be handed to justice on the first anniversary, many aspects of the incident are yet to be clear.

Ahlulbayt News Agency:  A year after the huge blasts of Beirut port, the situation remains far from normal in the country. While the Lebanese people expected to see plotters to be handed to justice on the first anniversary, many aspects of the incident are yet to be clear. 

At least 200 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured in twin explosions on August 5 last year. Since then, the fingers of blame have been pointed at the Israeli regime and its agents in Lebanon. The blast occurred in a storehouse containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, causing the complete destruction of many buildings around the port. Governor of Beirut estimated the damage to exceed $10 billion. 

The US Sympathetic gesture 

Along with the first anniversary, the US Secretary of State took to his Twitter account to claim sympathy and support for the Lebanese people. 

"On the eve of the tragic August 4 Beirut port explosion, we convey our sincere condolences to all those impacted and renew our commitment to stand by the Lebanese people as they strive for the bright future they deserve," his post read. 

The US support claims come while according to documents offered by some Lebanon journalists with insider knowledge, last year and a few days before the blast, 11 American military servicemen arrived in Beirut in a military flight. They entered Lebanon under the cover of mission to train Lebanese special forces but the Lebanese army for unknown reasons denied their existence on the Lebanese soil. 

Also, following the powerful blast, some radar images of unusual patrols and reconnaissance operations of four US navy spy planes on the Lebanon coastline were released. 

The importance of this point and the publication of these images is that the American intelligence sources were aware of the existence of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in this port for about six years, but did not announce any action or warning about it. The increased presence of some of their agents in the port prior to the blast raised suspicion among Lebanese experts that the US may deliberately remained silent about the big danger of the nitrate storage in the port. 

Unrealized promises 

France was another Western country that saw the opportunity ripe to renew its historical intervention in Lebanon after the incident. According to the commitment made by the French President Emmanuel Macron, Paris was supposed to deliver $4 billion raised by a donor conference hosted by France. But having in mind that the West possibly cannot pay this money as it is hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, so far France has set up many roadblocks ahead of formation of a new government in Lebanon, giving Paris time to escape realization of its funding commitment. On the other hand, when the West does not provide economic aid to Lebanon, the situation of the people in this country will go even graver, and therefore the West hopes to damage Hezbollah's position in this country with this economic pressure. Basically, since 33-day anti-Hezbollah war in 2006, the West and Tel Aviv have a great deal of grudge against the resistant Lebanese movement and still seek revenge. 

Who is afraid of the blast inquiry? 

The blast makes an international investigation a must as Beirut is in the heart of the tense West Asia region and the Israeli military and spy aircraft regularly violate the Lebanese airspace, and there is possibility of transfer of explosives to the nitrate storage, or even missile strike at it. 

The Israeli and American experts are confident that if an international probe is started, the Israeli hands in the plot will be obvious and the consequences would be dangerous as the Lebanese people and government can give a firm response according to the international laws. This is why so far Washington and Tel Aviv have blocked efforts for an investigation. 

One reason the Israelis are involved is the celebration of the incident by former Israeli deputy parliament speaker Moshe Feiglin who said the explosion was "one of Israel's best days and a gift from God." 

"Marking valentine's day, we've got a fantastic fireworks show from Beirut's port," his Facebook post read, adding: "Today is Tu B’Av, a day of joy, and a true and huge thank you to G-d and all the geniuses and heroes really (!) who organized for us this wonderful celebration in honor of the day of love," claiming that the blast was just in time for the Jewish festival. 

From another dimension, the home Lebanese obstacles ahead of a transparent investigation should be taken into account. A year after the blast, home inquiry into the incident has not yet led to significant arrests or even the identification of a culprit, and politicians have been blamed largely for the stalemate in the case. The local probe has not yet even decided what caused the explosion, where was the origin of the chemicals, and why they were left unguarded in the port for six years. Officials in the government, parliament, and security agencies have so far escaped questioning taking advantage of the constitutional immunity they enjoy for their posts.

Yusef Lahoud, the lawyer of hundreds of the victims, says "they simply try to flee from justice." However, many Lebanese still hope the investigation goes ahead to identify and bring to justice those behind it. 


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