It’s been three days since the explosion that destroyed a large part of Beirut’s port district, and though the cause is still unclear, the political fall-out is taking shape.
The official story is that nearly 3000 tons of Ammonium nitrate, stored in the warehouse there for nearly 7 years, was ignited by a fire. Early reports were of a fireworks shipment, that has since been refuted.
Although this seems improbable, and the details about the Russian ship abandoning its cargo so long ago almost too convenient, there’s no direct evidence, so far, that it is untrue.
The lack of clarity has seen speculation run rampant. Some people have suggested the explosion was some new technology or even a nuclear device. We have seen no evidence to support this as yet, and the independent scientists we asked told us the visual evidence was consistent with a nitrate explosion.
Some videos claim to show something – perhaps a missile – landing. But video evidence is easily doctored or misattributed. CNN has reported the video was altered, but “what CNN says” and “the truth” rarely intersect, and if they do it’s accidental.
For its part, the Lebanese government seems to be panicking, having already placed sixteen people under arrest and frozen the bank accounts of various local government officials.
In short, we don’t know exactly what happened yet, or who is to blame. But we do know what we’re being told to think, and how the press reports the story, and what agenda they pursue on the back of the incident, is almost the more important issue.
Today has seen protests on the streets of Beiruit, seemingly a peculiar response to what is reported to be a simple industrial accident, but it’s also an extension of the protests which have been off-and-on since last summer. Maybe tellingly, these on-going protests have never featured on Western front-pages before now.
The Guardian has an opinion piece, published yesterday and headlined “Lebanon is no stranger to disaster – but this is like nothing we’ve ever seen”. According to the author Kim Ghattas, the people of Lebanon are angry, this explosion was the last straw:
How much more can one country and one people take? Is this a turning point? And if so, towards what? Full revolt and true change for a new beginning or total helplessness and defeat?
And, according to the author’s bio:
Kim Ghattas is a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”
…which makes them essentially a paid representative of the US State Department. This is a clear indication of where this is probably going.
Emmanuel Macron was touring the city, and we’re told that crowds chanted for him to “do something” and “help us”.
a crowd gathered around him and shouted their anger, using slogans including “revolution!” and “the people want to bring down the regime”
Reuters has already called it a “revolution”.
Are these protests organic, or being stoked from the outside? It’s hard to say, but only somebody willfully naive could discount US or NATO involvement at this stage.
That a blast which, though destructive, resulted in relatively little loss of life could so quickly escalate into political unrest, and even the phantom suggestion of regime change, seems unlikely.
So, whatever the cause of the explosion, it’s certainly being seized as a political opportunity. And, historically speaking, it’s very rare the US doesn’t have some hand in creating its own opportunities.
If this is a push for regime change, it is an oddly timed one, given the state of the Covid19 narrative. Perhaps sign that a distraction is required, or perhaps a sign that some people in the heart of the deep State are sick of his “pandemic” BS, and just want to do what they do best…unseat governments and steal resources.
Whatever shape this fallout takes, spare a thought for the people of Lebanon. Because no matter how it starts, crowds on the streets demanding NATO members “take action” never ends well for the Middle East.