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Beirut: Explosion Was ‘An Accident Caused By Negligent Governments’

Above photo: There is now a huge crater where the warehouse storing the ammonium nitrate once stood.

After the first news and the stupor generated by the violent explosions in the port of Lebanon, all kinds of rumors and false news began to circulate, trying to further poison the atmosphere of pain in which had fallen on the people of that country. In addition to the very high number of deaths (around 100) and thousands of injured, a strategic port of the Lebanese nation was destroyed. To be able to monitor the situation and the consequences of what happened, we spoke with Wafica Ibrahim, a journalist for Al Mayadeen TV and correspondent for Resumen Latinoamericano, in the Middle East.

Wafica we want you to give us your first impression of what has happened there in Lebanon since this double explosion in the port of Beirut.

This explosion is a terrible accident, a brigade was working and welding grids and they were near some fuel tanks. The workers were working after a week of total confinement and the fuel tank exploded. That blast then caused the explosion of Pier 12 which has fireworks and an ammonium nitrate store. Social networks started using a lot of imagination and throwing out fabricated videos, talking about the possibility of a rocket attack. Others talked about a Hezbollah weapons factory, all stories. No one listened to these stories, neither the opposition, nor the government officials, nor the friends of the resistance, because the port of Lebanon is not at all under the control of the resistance. It has nothing to do with that. There is an immense diversity of politics, religion, class, in the regions of Lebanon and that is reflected in the port administration, the port workers, the army security apparatus, the customs that work there.

Why was the explosion so big and devastating?

Unfortunately, it is due to the negligence, abandonment and lack of responsibility of governments since 2013. It has gone on for 30 years actually, but specifically from 2013 to date and the Lebanese people know the history by heart. Once a ship was stranded on the high seas and asked for support from the port of Beirut, they were saved and when they inspected the ship they found that it had 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate and they had to stop it and ban it from circulation because it was going to Mozambique. Then, suddenly the owners of the ship disappeared and left the ship with their merchandise there. They were never found again. From that moment on, each government left the inheritance to another government, that’s the problem. What to do with that ammonium nitrate that is so dangerous? Because any accident can be dangerous for the whole capital. This is a standing issue that has never been solved before. The last report that was issued, was by the current government 4 months ago warning that this was a big unresolved problem. Now, in view of what happened, the President of the Republic presided over a meeting with the National Defense Council, which formed a commission of investigation and they say that they are very serious in finding those responsible, or rather irresponsible, who are the cause of this enormous accident. This commission asked for 4 days to gather as much information as possible to inform the Lebanese people of the whole truth. We are waiting for that truth.

With all the description that you give, beyond affirming that it was a very serious negligence, it is clear that what happened is of interest to the enemies of Lebanon, Syria and the Resistance. If they had thought about it, they could not have done it better.

Of course. Let’s start from the fact that the consequences are very serious, and all the political forces agree that it was an accident. However, I will not lie to you it is a port that represents so much in the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund currently in Lebanon. Today Lebanon is faced with two options, and it does not have a third. Either it goes east, looking at China, Russia, Iraq and Syria in the economy; or it must fall completely, with its own weight, into the clutches of the IMF. We are now facing this situation with a port, which needs an reinvestment of 800 million dollars to become a port again, and Lebanon does not have one. Moreover, the material losses at the port amount to more than a trillion dollars. The explosion is the biggest disaster to hit Lebanon since the establishment of the Lebanese Republic; that port is Lebanon’s vital artery. It even plays a role in the Silk Road project, because of its geographical location.

Double pain is caused by knowing that this explosion affects Syria, another country on which imperialism has imposed not only war and destruction but also a total blockade.

That’s right. Syria is the second most impacted country by this explosion because it has the support of this port helps to solve its problems and this is a very big economic and social blow to this country. Therefore, we have to wait for the investigations. The security authorities are pleading with the media to wait for the results. That they will be transparent, that the whole world will be surprised by the results. We are all waiting to see what results there may be, but we still think that the Lebanese government, in parallel with this great tragedy, has to initiate a rapid investigation in order to take a correct position. They need to establish agreements to enable the port, although I very much fear that the port of Beirut will become entangled in the circle of political polarization that will follow when the heat of these events dies down. Those politicians who have wanted to be humanists’, both from the opposition and from the right, talking about human beings and feelings, about human values, are very much afraid that these values will cool down and that this will just become another issue of political polarization in this country. Like all issues.

How is the strength of the resistance represented by Hezbollah and how have they reacted? It seems that their leader Hassan Nasrala himself offered the collaboration of his forces to help the population of Lebanon.

Let me tell you that he had a speech scheduled for this Tuesday, but he suspended it because of the national mourning and to accompany the Lebanese people in this very heavy mourning that we are enduring and he gave orders to all the institutions of the resistance, of civil defense, of the infirmary, of the polyclinics, some hospitals that they have, activists in general and sympathizers, to all be in the streets picking up debris, looking for bodies under the rubble, helping people, women and old people who have been locked up in their departments. In short, today in Lebanon there is a spirit of social solidarity, of multilateral, multifaceted patriotism, of all the people who sing outside the symphony, we would say. But that is why the Lebanese government must now come out of this position of hesitation, and not take drastic decisions, not seek categorical solutions to things. To become a little more radical, this is the best time. What better time than this pain that the Lebanese people are going through due to a terrible negligence, a product of widespread corruption throughout all the time leading up to this, and be a government that can bring the Lebanese people together and make a difference.

We would like to express all our solidarity from here to you. Thank you for the informative task of Al Mayadeen and it team of journalists.

Thanks to you who are supporting us so much. Solidarity is what prevails and we know with that spirit Resumen Latinoamericano is on the side of our people in good times and bad.