Lebanon’s deadly blast: when corruption turned into carnage

Figures of the Lebanese political establishment were absent from the ground as they probably knew that the people’s anger at them was too great. They were, however, very present on local TV stations, racing to justify themselves or make empty promises on political talk shows.

While people were clearing the rubble, assessing structural damage of buildings, protecting property, and scrambling to find and save survivors, the army and the internal security forces were busy attacking angry demonstrators.

The accused as investigators

To add insult to injury, an official investigation committee has been formed, composed of the very people who are responsible for the neglect that caused the explosion. The interior minister has refused calls for an international investigation because, he said – with no irony intended: “We are qualified to hold our own investigation.”

These were the words of a minister in a government that has not been anywhere to be seen, nor has it spoken to its people to explain a recovery plan or even to account for the damage and loss of life or count the missing people.

Meanwhile, the Beirut governor, a day after the explosion, had already calculated the cost of the explosion at between US$3 and 5 billion. A day later, it became US$10 to 15 billion. No one knows how the governor reached these figures, considering that no official body has been seen on the ground surveying the damage.

Corruption kills

Corruption in Lebanon has always been one of the biggest causes of death. Tuesday’s explosion however, took this to the level of carnage.

The only public official to dare walk the streets was French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited the site of the crime amid the sound of the crowds chanting insults against his much-hated and conspicuously absent Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun. Aoun’s reign has been arguably the most catastrophic in the modern history of the country.

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