„The death toll in the August 4 explosion at the Beirut port has now reached 163. More than 6,000 people were injured. Large parts of the city were destroyed. The latest information detailed this week by Reuters suggests that Lebanese authorities were warned in the weeks prior to the explosion of the need to secure the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in Hangar 12 at the port.
Public anger in Lebanon is now at white heat. Demonstrators in Beirut this week occupied a number of government buildings. The resignation of prime minister Hassan Diab and a number of other ministers has had little effect on the public mood. The resignation will not trigger elections or anything resembling real change. Lebanon has long experience with „caretaker“ governments, whose terms stretch on for months or even years, lacking any mandate or capability for taking significant decisions.
The focus of public anger is on the corrupt, shoddy and inefficient nature of governance in Lebanon. The explosion at the port was the most extreme and dramatic manifestation of a deep decay infecting every part of Lebanese public life and infrastructure. This is a country well on the way toward a „failed state“ status. In March, Lebanon for the first time defaulted on $1.2 billion in foreign debts. The Lebanese pound has experienced a 70% drop in value since October. The country is experiencing hyperinflation.
But while the focus of international coverage of Lebanon since the blast has been on the corrupt, graft-ridden and inefficient nature of Lebanese public life, this is only part of the picture of the country’s malaise – and not the most significant element.
Beneath the morass of Lebanon’s debased political culture, there is another structure. This structure is not, in general, corrupt. It is not inefficient. It is not unaware of where its assets are placed, and it is not subject to replacement by elections, or by street demonstrations. This structure is the Hezbollah deep state. It is the true arbiter of power in Lebanon, both visible and invisible.“ (…)
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