Lebanon Daily News Brief 08/04/2022

Thursday, August 4, 2022



Thousands Participate in March Commemorating Port Explosion, Another Section of Silos Collapses
According to Reuters, 
“Thousands of protesters marched tearfully in the Lebanese capital on Thursday, marking two years since a cataclysmic explosion at the Beirut port, with chants denouncing the government’s failure to uncover the truth behind the blast. In a grim reminder of the disaster, several grain silos that were left heavily damaged by the blast collapsed on Thursday afternoon, only hundreds of metres away from where crowds were gathering at the city’s waterfront.” [Reuters]

Vessel Carrying Suspected Stolen Ukrainian Grain Departs Lawfully
After several pending judicial seizure orders were placed and subsequently lifted on a Syrian ship suspected of transporting stolen Ukrainian grain to the Lebanese port of Tripoli, via the Russian-occupied port of Crimea, the Laodicea lawfully departed Lebanon’s northern port today, bound for Syria. The Ukrainian foreign ministry urged the Lebanese government to reconsider its decision to authorize the ship’s departure. [Reuters]

Minister Bou Habib: Maritime Border Negotiations in ‘Advanced and Technical’ Stages
According to Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Abdallah Bou Habib, the ongoing, US-mediated negotiations between the Lebanese and Israeli governments concerning the delineation of Lebanon’s southern maritime border have entered advanced and technical stages, seemingly conveying further ‘optimism’ that an agreement could be reached among the parties. [Naharnet]

World Bank Publishes Report Reviewing Lebanese Public Finances
In the World Bank’s latest report, “Lebanon Public Finance Review: Ponzi Finance?”, Lebanon’s public finances are evaluated over a long period of time in an analysis offering, “critical determinants of the outcomes for any future socio-political-economic re-configuration.” [World Bank Group]

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Rewinding The Shadows Of Death
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “why are we not to be angry when 17,000 people are still missing because of the Civil War? Does the continued impunity of the political leaders surprise anyone? The families are not passive either. They have filed three lawsuits in June at Lebanon’s Shura council to oppose the government’s April decision to demolish all of the silos, which wound up catching fire anyway and even suffered another explosion this past week. Rather than dwelling on those facts, let’s consider the culprit here – the collusion between those political actors and the judicial system to thwart a transparent and complete investigation. What began more than a year ago under Judge Tarek Bitar has been brought to a standstill by ‘system’.  The investigation into the blast has stalled and the Lebanese people still have not received a full accounting of, nor justice for, what happened. And they are still suffering the consequences of the deadly blast. Herein lies the nub of the crisis: a judicial system that cannot function independently and is hamstrung by politicians who control appointments to the courts and the freedom to investigate. Gallup carried out an extensive poll to gauge attitudes toward the government. “Only 16% of Lebanese expressed confidence in their judicial system in 2021. This percentage is an all-time low in Lebanon and was among the lowest in the world in 112 countries where Gallup asked this question last year. [emphasis added]”

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L’Orient Today
I Am No Longer A Silo

Camille Ammoun

Ammoun writes, “Today, it has been two years since I was a silo. For two years my grain has been fermenting to the point of spontaneous combustion in the humid heat of this second summer after summer zero. This smoldering fire, feeding on itself for weeks, is threatening my already tilting cylinders, I am told, by several millimeters a day. Two of them collapsed in a din of dust. Others will follow. I don’t know how much longer I can keep up the illusion . . . You have destroyed everything, spoiled everything, dirtied everything. You are all the same, here and anywhere else. You are short-term profiteers with no vision or aim besides earning more, consuming more, eating more. But it is about my evisceration that I am talking here, the lives, the streets, the objects, the stories, and everything that was, on that 4th of August 2020, ravaged by the relentless blast of your utter incompetence and your insatiable greed of gluttons.”

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From Blast To Banking Crisis, One Woman Embodies Lebanon’s Complete Collapse

Maya Gebeily

Gebeily writes, “Liliane Cheaito’s scratchy, laboured breathing went on until a nurse appeared at her hospital bed, where the 28-year-old has spent nearly every moment of the last two years in silent suffering following the Beirut port explosion of 2020. Using a suctioning machine, the nurse emptied her lungs of built-up phlegm and Cheaito’s heaving chest finally eased. But the quiet halls of the American University of Beirut’s Medical Center – where she has lived since the Aug. 4, 2020 blast – have not shielded her from Lebanon’s collapse.”

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The Grieving Families Fighting To Preserve A Crumbling Symbol Of The Beirut Blast

Clément Gibon

Gibon writes, “At Gate 9 of Beirut’s port in mid July, all eyes were on the mammoth, concrete grain silos. There was a blazing fire and plumes of smoke were billowing out of the northern block of silos. Rima Zahed was here at a protest holding a portrait of her brother, Amin, one of the 218 people who were killed in the catastrophic Aug. 4, 2020 explosion at the port, which left the silos a disemboweled shell of their former selves. Zahed feared the additional damage would cause them to collapse—and denounced the Lebanese authorities for not stamping out the blaze.”

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AP News
2 Years Later, Hope For Justice In Beirut Explosion Fades

Bassem Mroue

Mroue writes, “The investigation into one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions has been blocked for months by Lebanon’s political powers. Many blame the Lebanese government’s longtime corruption and mismanagement for the tragedy, but the elite’s decades-old lock on power has ensured they are untouchable. In fact, some of those charged in the probe were re-elected to parliament earlier this year. Even as the wrecked silos at the port have been burning for weeks — a fire ignited by the fermenting grains still inside them — authorities seemed to have given up on trying to put out the blaze. A section of the silos collapsed Sunday in a huge cloud of dust.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.