By Arab News
By Khaled Abou Zahr*
Lebanon is an open wound following Tuesday’s deadly explosion in Beirut. Rage can only begin to describe what everyone is feeling. The Lebanese are urgently calling for humanitarian help as the country was already close to collapse and is in no way capable of getting over this without it. This call for help was immediately answered from governments as well as individuals worldwide; proving once again the special place this country and its people has in their hearts. Unfortunately, as Lebanese in despair tend to their injuries, they already understand how and why more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate was stocked in Beirut’s port, dangerously close to residential areas.
What seems to be gross negligence is the result of the overlapping of responsibility and security oversight between the official government and Hezbollah in the port. Protecting Hezbollah’s interests created the corrupt situation that led to this loss of innocent lives and massive destruction. This is also the case in other key sensitive areas that few know Hezbollah controls. This can no longer go on. It is time to bring an end to the source of all corruption and an end to Hezbollah’s control and manipulation of Lebanon’s key infrastructure and its institutions.
The Lebanese understand very well that, when it comes to security, Hezbollah is the real decision maker. This is the only truth behind this incident. Its false battles have been methodically destroying Lebanon. It goes unchecked as it trades drugs and weapons, kills those who dissent, alienates an entire country and holds its population hostage. It controls the port, the airport, the borders, the government, the president, and prime ministers past and present. It decides who and how to reward in the business community.
While Hassan Nasrallah and his goons are hiding in bunkers, the Lebanese people are burning under the fire of their actions and mistakes. Whatever the reasons for the explosion, Hezbollah’s operatives overseeing the port’s security need to be named and questioned and their entire chain of command held responsible. In fact, Hezbollah needs to be held accountable for much more than just this explosion. It needs to be held accountable for letting the entire country burn and always putting its interests above those of the country and its citizens. This can no longer be accepted.
This cannot be settled once again with the sacrifice of some low-level government employees to protect the real culprits. In the current situation, a lengthy trial will see blame bounced between institutions and evidence blurred, while true justice will never be served. Lebanon no longer has the time to get lost in never-ending legal processes when the judgment cannot even be executed.
This horrible explosion is a symptom of a dying country. The reason this country is dying is because state sovereignty has been destroyed by Hezbollah. This is the true crime. This criminal organization remains unchecked; it can dictate its will, go to war, decide who is worthy of the riches of corruption and who is worthy of a bullet or a car bomb. Its leaders dictate their will on the Lebanese people while hiding behind its state institutions and sacrificing scapegoats whenever needed. They have used political corruption as a reward program for their servants, which include their so-called political opponents. These alleged opponents — who, by the way, have repeatedly voted for Hezbollah’s election laws — covered their actions in Syria, allowed them into the government and ran around the world to find solutions for their problems.
In fact, all of Lebanon’s politicians and business elites have accepted and sometimes benefited from this situation. They have accepted the extension of the Iranian theocracy into the country and helped it gain ground in Lebanon. They have not looked for ways to resist; instead they have looked for ways to benefit. When Lebanese people saw a threat to their country, these elites saw an opportunity. However, while Lebanon’s political and business elites have accepted Hezbollah’s rules, the regular Lebanese have not and will not. Today, we need to understand that palliative treatments can no longer continue and the real disease must be treated.
As the country was already descending into chaos, Hezbollah had been trying to present itself as the solution that would bring stability and security. Some desperate and hungry Lebanese even started seeing no other alternative. But, as Beirut is destroyed once again, will the people stay silent this time? What is left to lose? Lebanon will never get over this unless full sovereignty is reinstated and Hezbollah’s military arsenal is dismantled. Keeping silent or delaying this demand will only create more misery and danger for Lebanon. And Hezbollah will never care about serving anyone outside its own ranks or the mullah’s interests.
At this time of high risk and danger, one can only ask where are the noble men and women of the Lebanese Army? How long will they accept being cast as the handymen of a negligent terrorist group? When will they listen to the voices and screams of the people? When will they answer their call of duty? If they fear division within their ranks, they should understand that the longer they wait, the bigger the risk. Beirut’s dirty swamp needs to be drained. The complicity among Beirut’s businessmen and political rulers, under the supervision of Hezbollah, needs to be stopped. The people and the army need to unite and face these dangers together.
What Lebanon is facing goes beyond this horrendous explosion. There are times for legal justice and there are times for political justice. What Lebanon needs now is political justice. It needs a complete overhaul. The Lebanese people, no matter their religion, need to stop obeying their leaders, thinking that they can protect them. At this moment, Lebanon does not need a new government, a new president or a new parliament — it needs its army to step in and set up a ruling committee that will suspend the current constitution and face up to the real challenges. If a new Lebanon is to be built, it will not be with international help, it will only be with the will of its people and its army fighting together for a better future.
- Khaled Abou Zahr is the CEO of Eurabia, a media and tech company. He is also the editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi.