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JUNE 2021

Lebanese President: We Will Investigate “Possible External Interference” In Historic Beirut Blast

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

With more than 3,000 Beirut families now homeless, and more than 150 have officially been declared death as the search for remains over the massive blast site continues, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Friday that an official government probe would look into the “possibility of external interference”, including the possibility that the explosion was triggered by a rocket or a bomb.

“The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act,” President Michel Aoun said in comments carried by local media and confirmed by his office, per Reuters.

Meanwhile, thousands of Beirutis took to the streets last night to protest the government’s apparent incompetence. Some hurled stones at police while others mourned the descent into anarchy.

The small crowd, some hurling stones, marked a return to the kind of protests that had become a feature of life in Beirut, as Lebanese watched their savings evaporate and currency disintegrate, while government decision-making floundered.

“There is no way we can rebuild this house. Where is the state?” Tony Abdou, an unemployed 60-year-old.

His family home is in Gemmayze, a district that lies a few hundred metres from the port warehouses where 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate was stored for years, a ticking time bomb near a densely populated area.

A security source and local media previously said the fire that caused the blast was ignited by warehouse welding work.

Lebanon has promised a full investiation, and 16 people have already been arrested. But many fear that those taken into custody are merely scapegoats for government incompetence.

The government has promised a full investigation. State news agency NNA said 16 people were taken into custody.

But for many Lebanese, the explosion was symptomatic of years of neglect by the authorities while corruption thrived.

Officials have said the blast, whose seismic impact was recorded hundreds of miles (kilometres) away, might have caused losses amounting to $15 billion – a bill the country cannot pay when it has already defaulted on its mountain of national debt, exceeding 150% of economic output, and talks about a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund have stalled.

Theories that the explosion was precipitated by a missile or a bomb have been summarily dismissed, due to both a purported preponderance of evidence to the contrary (video of the scene clearly shows a fire and several explosions in the warehouse precipitating the explosion), and the readiness of international terror groups and foreign governments to deny responsibility for the attack. But there’s still so much left unknown, and Lebanon’s apparent disinterest in pursuing the Russian businessman whose seized cache of ammonium nitrate caused the explosion has led to more questions.

To be sure, negligence, or a tragic accident, would also be examined as probable causes. Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources close to the Lebanese government, that an initial probe has blamed negligence pertaining to the storage of the explosive material.

But the US has previously said it has not ruled out an attack. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, has also previously denied it had any role.

As we explained earlier this week, a 2,500-ton cache of ultravolatile ammonium nitrate had been stored in a waterfront warehouse by the Lebanese government after it was seized from a foreign ship back in 2013. For years, several port authorities (some of whom are now under house arrest as the government starts its investigation/hunt for a scapegoat) reportedly warned the government about the dangers associated with the chemical cash, and urged them to find a way to dispose of it – even if it meant handing it out to Lebanese farmers to spread over their crops.

And the almost unbelievable story of how the explosive substance got there has emerged. It’s centered on a derelict and leaking vessel leased by a Russian businessman living in Cyprus. In 2013 the man identified as Igor Grechushkin, was paid $1 million to transport the high-density ammonium nitrate to the port of Beira in Mozambique. That’s when the ship, named the Rhosus, left the Black Sea port of Batumi, in Georgia.

But amid mutiny by an unpaid crew, a hole in the ship’s hull, and constant legal troubles, the ship never made it. Instead, it entered the port of Beirut where it was impounded by Lebanese authorities over severe safety issues, during which time the ammonium nitrate was transferred off, and the largely Ukrainian crew was prevented from disembarking, leading to a brief international crisis among countries as Kiev sought the safe return of its nationals.

Meanwhile, Igor Grechushkin – believed to still be living in Cyprus – reportedly simply abandoned the dangerously subpar vessel he leased, as well as its crew, never to be heard from again.

The ammonium nitrate was supposed to be auctioned off, but this never happened. Apparently exasperated customs and dock officials even suggested Lebanese farmers could simply spread it across their fields for a good crop yield. But not even this simple solution was heeded, nor proposals to give it to the Lebanese Army.

[…]

Meanwhile, the fate of the man originally at the center of the saga, whose decision to simply abandon the leaky ammonium nitrate laden ship in the first place, remains somewhat of a mystery and is now largely being overlooked in international media reports. Strangely, it doesn’t even appear that Lebanese law enforcement is eager to talk to him just yet.

Cypriot media is saying Igor Grechushkin is not a Cypriot passport holder but is indeed residing in the EU country. Local authorities have indicated they are ready to bring him in for questioning, but they haven’t received a request from either Lebanese authorities or Interpol. Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou announced Thursday: “We have already contacted Interpol Beirut and expressed our readiness to provide them with any assistance they need, if and when our assistance is requested.”

An initial government “probe” blamed negligence related to storage of the explosive material. And with more Beirutis taking to the streets to demand an answer, we’re curious to see how the government handles the process as it seeks to preserve what little credibility it has left.

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Garga

All of this deadly negligence happened when Hariri and his cronies were at the helm. Numerous times they block the various solutions for this load, The economy was ruined when Hariri was PM, and now Hariri and his friends and backers shriek louder than anyone else for blood!

<>

Get out of Lebanon, your regime and Hezbollah have ruined their lives. Give them a better future for a peace, all you do is bring more wars on regular Lebanese. You keep brainwashing them Israel will do this or that, but it’s Hezbollah who wants to start a war for killing one of their guys in Syria, not even in Lebanon. Just like the regular Iranians you hold them hostages, one day it will explode at your face.

Free man

Hezbollah has been holding these dangerous materials for years, at the end it exploded in face of the Lebanese: https://twitter.com/AlArabiya_Eng/status/1291003240272797697

Free man

If you need English subtitles.
Look how he grins at the possibility of killing thousands of innocent civilians. :
https://twitter.com/MEMRIReports/status/1291861929246560256

<>

Yet, people call us “civilian killers”. He aims his rocket at Israeli centers in order to kill innocent people, he is putting Lebanon in a dangerous place.

Traiano Welcome

But as a fact, you are civilian killers. This is the reality. The numbers prove you have killed more civilians than Hezbollah.

Tommy Jensen

But why do you nuke Beirut just to cry when people get pessed?

Traiano Welcome

None of those are ‘civilians’ or ‘innocent’. They are all human shields, or participants in an occupation.

<>

3 more hours for our big demonstrations agains the corrupted Bibi, tens of thousands will be on the streets including me! Search for Kan 11 news you might see it live.

Traiano Welcome

One Zionist rat is just like another. Getting rid of one fat Zionist rat will just result in another fat Zionist rat taking charge of your floating deathtrap called Israel.

Traiano Welcome

Rubbish. You’re fabricating stories.

None of this has anything to do with what happened at the port. None of the material belonged to Hezbollah.
All the material involved in the explosion was known to be present by the majority non-Hezbollah government and the public for 5 years or more, as well as the Army.

But keep spinning your hasbara propaganda.

Smith Ricky

We all know Isreahell destroyed Beiruts port.

Free man

This is not what the Lebanese think , they think that the terrorist organization is to blame:
https://twitter.com/Bacharelhalabi/status/1292092751115440128

Traiano Welcome

Every country has it’s traitors. These are Lebanon’s traitors.
For decades before Hezbollah the government was run by Western Backed factions who created the crisis you see now. All of sudden, just when Hezbollah finally gets into the Government as a faction of it’s own the traitors decide to blow everything up out of spite.

Garga

Go mind your own business.

Don’t like Hezbollah’s wrath? Then don’t act like a mad dogs and don’t attack them when they don’t mind you.

PS. Oooohh… You were minding your business. Your job today is defending and promoting Hariri, isn’t it?

<>

More job is to protect Israel, I feel sorry for the Lebanese if they have to endure another war against us because of Hezbollah and you. They deserve better, set them free.

Traiano Welcome

Without Hezbollah, Lebanon would look like the West Bank and Gaza.
Whatever the Zionist touches, turns to concentration camps and Gulags.

<>

According to you, but it’s not true. We operate in the West Bank and Gaza because of the terrorists, most of Israelis are ready to give them a state and end this conflict.

Traiano Welcome

It is true. Historical fact proves it. But you don’t read, so you don’t know.
There are no terrorists in the west bank other than the IDF.

Stop lying. Israelis have never been willing to give the Palestinians their state. This is publicly known fact.

What you are willing to give the Palestinians is a series of concentration camps, where you can move on to the ‘Final Solution’ as Hitler did with the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Objective

Then Hezbollah should absorb into to the official Lebanese army and be answerable to the Lebanese government – not Tehran.

Traiano Welcome

First let the Lebanese Army prove that it can defend Lebanon against Israel.

Last I remember, the Lebanese Army hid in their kennels like scared dogs when the IDF came knocking. Hizbullah did the fighting.

Also, they (the army) seem to be part of the ship of fools who just blew half of Beirut up. I wouldn’t touch them with a stick right now.

The Objective

If Iran raised Hezbollah from scratch and made it strong, then it can do the same for the Lebanese army. How many times have Iran trained the Lebanese army, taught it missile technology, provided it with long-range missiles and other advanced weapons, provided cash military aid? None.

Imagine Hezbollah joining the ranks of the Lebanese army, training them, fighting alongside the Lebanese army, and putting Lebanon first before any other country. I’m sure the Israelis will be deterred. But Iran wouldn’t have Hezbollah integrate into Lebanon’s official army. Have you ever wondered why Iran prefers Hezbollah being independent? What’s the catch for Iran? Think and think. You’ll understand that there is a different goal than defending Lebanon. But to prevent you from thinking along those lines, they constantly parrot the “defend Lebanon” narrative.

Train and arm the Lebanese army and integrate Hezbollah. This is how to help Lebanon defend itself. But keeping Hezbollah risks the entire nation going to war some day with Israel – a war Lebanon’s government will have no say in when it starts or ends – but a war that many Lebanese civilians will die, be maimed, and loss property. Absorbing Hezbollah into the Lebanese armed forces answerable to only the Lebanese government diminishes the risk of war with Israel or the U.S. It also reduces the risk of sanctions, sabotage, and domestic revolts or even civil war. Can’t you see Hezbollah is now a liability for Lebanon?

Traiano Welcome

That would be the ideal case. However, it’s not likely to happen, here is why:

The Lebanese army is a compromise. It’s drawn from all the different opposing factions and sects in Lebanon, some of which are backed by Saudi Arabia, USA, UK, France and Hezbollah. It is split along Christian, Maronite, Shiite, Sunni religious lines and many ethnic lines.

It is headed by corrupt warlords who have been given titles to satisfy sectarian groups.

There is no way one sect Hezbollah can train the entire Lebanese army without opposition from anti-Hezbollah and anti-Iran factions …
Just one example: Consider that even the USA sends military hardware support to the Lebanese army factions that it supports …

The Objective

What you say will work perfectly for Lebanon. It can play neutral, just like Turkey and other countries do regarding Iran. A strong army is still strong no matter who rules Lebanon. If Israel tries to invade Lebanon, all three factions will unite to fight it. On the other hand, Israel will have no incentive to invade Lebanon if Iran could help make the Lebanese army what Hezbollah is today.
Here are the benefits for Lebanon if it were to have a single army drawn from all factions:
1. No sanctions on Lebanon, neither will there be sabotage or other attacks
2. Sovereignty and neutrality, where the presence of Shiite military and civilian leaders will prevent Lebanon becoming a Western puppets, but Also Sunnis and Christian military and political leaders preventing it from becoming an Iranian proxy. This will help avoid America’s wrath.
3. Peace and stability for Lebanon, and a healthy economy with better future for all.

I am pretty sure the presence of Hezbollah will one day bring war upon Lebanon. This is likely to be a civil way. We are seeing a replay of Syria in Lebanon. Things can get worse, and this will all be America and Israel’s doing.

My question regarding Iran is: What does Iran stand to lose if Hezbollah were to integrate into the official military of Lebanon? Why would Iran not stop grooming proxies and instead concentrate on building the Iranian nation? Russia, China, and North Korea are all strong without having proxy armies in foreign nations. I can’t think of one country in the world that have so many different proxy forces like Iran does – not even America or Saudi Arabia with all their trouble.

Traiano Welcome

Get out of Palestine. Your colonial settler occupation is the reason why Lebanon is the way it is today.

Free man
Traiano Welcome

What a lying distorter of truth you are! They are hanging effigies of ALL LEBANESE LEADERS you propagandist tool:

“VIDEO # 7
Protesters hang cutouts of Lebanese leaders including Nasrallah. #LebanonProtests #Beirut”

But you post the section that just highlights Hezbollah.

Keep spinning, liar …

Traiano Welcome

Absolutely. A corrupt government run for decades backed by America, Saudi, France, Britain slowly rotting from the foundations up.

And just in a few months of Hezbollah finally getting into the majority they decide to collapse the structure.

Except that the biggest winner of this tragedy is going to be unintentionally Hezbollah …

chris chuba

Leland Vittert on FOX news made a big issue of the people in Lebanon burning Nasrallah in effigy. Funny thing is that FOX’s own correspondent, Try Yingst did not make any such claim, the only one making this claim was the Jerusalem Post. I don’t understand people who allow themselves to become such dishonest shills.
BTW I noticed that the Iranian govt has been very measured in their response and has not even hinted at Israeli involvement since they do not have an facts and people think that Iran is dishonest! The facts speak to the opposite being the case.

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