By Mark Haddad
On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion ripped through the Lebanese capital of Beirut, killing over 200 people and 6,500 individuals were injured, and whole communities were destroyed. The explosion was triggered by the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been kept in a store at the port of Beirut for over six years unsafely. The explosion was heard as far away as Cyprus, which is almost 145 miles from Beirut. The blast caused widespread damage across the city, with buildings collapsing and windows being blown out. The disaster was exacerbated by the country’s severe economic crisis, which has left three-quarters of the population impoverished.
In the aftermath of the blast, there were calls for an investigation into how such a large amount of ammonium nitrate was able to be stored in a warehouse for so long. There were also calls for those responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate to be held accountable.
Two years later, the city of Beirut is still rebuilding from the damage caused by the blast. Much of the city is still in disarray, with buildings that have not been repaired and debris still littering the streets.
In the aftermath of the explosion, there was widespread public anger directed at the government, with many people accusing them of negligence. This led to mass protests, and eventually, the government resigned. A new government was formed, but it has struggled to effectively address the issues facing the country. The economic crisis has only worsened in the past two years, and many people are still living in poverty. There is also a lack of confidence in the government, which has led to more protests and unrest. The situation in Lebanon is still very volatile, and it remains to be seen how the country will move forward in the coming years.
Lebanon did not have a stable government since the explosion. The government that was in place at the time of the explosion resigned in the aftermath, and a new government has struggled to effectively address the issues facing the country. The economic crisis has only worsened in the past two years, and many people are still living in poverty. There is Lebanon’s political powers have blocked a probe into one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions for months. Many people point to Lebanon’s long history of mismanagement and corruption as the cause of the devastation, but the country’s entrenched elite has ensured that they are out of reach.
The evidence shows that there was confusion over who was responsible for overseeing the storage of the ammonium nitrate in hangar 12 and what precautions were being taken to ensure its safety. The investigations and a piece of evidence show the negligence and improper implementation of Lebanese law in storing that heavy cargo by the Lebanese authorities resulted in such a grand risk of life.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that some government officials knew the ammonium nitrate’s presence in the harbor would lead to fatalities and tacitly accepted the danger of deaths. In one instance, a member of General Security wrote to a senior official in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to express his concerns about how the ammonium nitrate was being stored. “The presence of such a large quantity of explosives in an open space adjacent to populated areas is a real danger,” he wrote. “I urge you to take all necessary measures to protect civilians from any potential harm.”
The court didn’t have the authority to rule until enough seats opened up as a result of judges retiring. The appointments, which were approved by the justice minister, are still pending approval from the finance minister, an ally of Berri supporters. The charges come after eight months of delays, caused by legal challenges filed by three former Cabinet ministers.In October, a month after the attack, a team from State Security inspected hangar 12 and found that it had been abandoned and was no longer being used for storage purposes.
The team also noted that there were no security measures in place at the hangar and that it was accessible to anyone who wanted to enter it. These findings raise serious questions about the security and safety measures that were in place at the time of the attack. It is unclear why nothing was done to address the concerns raised by members of General Security about the storage of ammonium nitrate in hangar 12.
The failure to take action raises the possibility that those responsible for overseeing the storage of the ammonium nitrate were either incompetent or complicit in the attack.
The investigating judge has said that he will continue to look into who was responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate and what role they may have played in the attack.
The fact that law and order cannot claim responsibility for the storage of ammonium nitrate raises serious questions about their ability to protect civilians. This tragedy could have been avoided if better safety measures were put in place. Those responsible for overseeing the storage of the ammonium nitrate were either incompetent or complicit in the attack.
The recent political crisis in Lebanon has led to new tensions and divisions among the people. The main reason for this is the Syrian civil war. Lebanon shares a border with Syria, and the conflict has spilled over into Lebanese territory.
In addition, Lebanon has long been a haven for Syrian refugees, and many Lebanese people have grown tired of the influx of newcomers. As a result of these factors, Lebanon is now more divided than ever before. The recent incident in Beirut is just one example of this growing divide. Sunni Muslims, who make up a minority of the Lebanese population, are increasingly feeling alienated from the Shia Muslim-dominated government. This feeling of alienation has led to protests and violence, and it shows no signs of abating any time soon. Lebanon is a country in crisis, and its people are struggling to find a way forward.
Mark Haddad is an independent researcher and writer on Lebanese affairs.