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4 Months Since August 4, and the Crime Continues

Lebanon’s ruling system is sorely mistaken if it believes that the events of August 4 – the blast that shook the Port of Beirut — will simply pass like all other calamities that had previously befallen Lebanon. It is deeply foolish if it thinks that the people of Lebanon will simply come to terms with the incident and accept it as a given, instead of treating it like a heinous crime that led to widespread destruction caused only by war. August 4 was a tragic day, but we were naive to be surprised that it happened. The writing was always on the wall. Political decay engulfed us, in the presidency, the parliament, and all government offices. The port blast was nothing more than a natural result of the political alliances that abolished democracy in Lebanon under the banner of “power sharing.” These political forces deliberately blurred the lines between what is right and what is wrong, and turned the values of clientelism and cronyism into an integral part of everyday life. Those who have any hope that the Lebanese leadership will learn its lesson following the August 4 disaster are foolish. They are the same people who expected the Lebanese government to restore public faith following the assassination of Rafic Hariri. Instead of rebuilding our country, our leaders turned Lebanon into a hostage; a game piece used by regional powers in their chess game. The port crime unveiled everything that is wrong with our country: corrupt civil servants, complicit and negligent security and judicial agencies, selfish lawmakers, and an absent president. The people of Lebanon will not forget this heinous crime. The world will not forget this heinous crime. Therefore, the judicial investigator, who asked parliament to investigate 10 former ministers he suspects are responsible for the conditions that led to the disaster, should renew his confidence in himself and take matters into his own hands. Either he steps aside and lets someone else with more confidence pursue the investigation or he investigates everyone responsible for the disaster, whether they are a politician or not. Justice cannot rely on half-truths. And the victims’ blood is worthy of more than empty promises. – Bechara Charbel (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)