Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer and also a blasting agent. A small quantity of it can be used to create an impressive blast — about 2700 tons of it can cause destruction equivalent to the cumulative damage of 15 years of civil war in Lebanon. This is what happened on 4 August 2020 when a nearly forgotten consignment of ammonium nitrate exploded under yet-unexplained circumstances in the Port of Beirut.
Theories are sprouting like wild mushrooms. Everyone is trying to pin the blame badge on everyone else.
Ammonium nitrate does not burn on its own. It must be exposed to very high temperatures such as fire for a blast to happen.
Regardless of whether it was an accident or an act of sabotage or terrorism, the sentiment of the Lebanese population is currently turned against the corrupt and incompetent political elites of the country.
Lebanon, a great promise that has turned into a recurring nightmare, is a complex piece of land and not just because of its religiously composition – it is a Muslim majority country but only marginally so.
Almost the entire political elite that keeps finding new ways to stay in power, is the product of the civil war of 1975-1990 in Lebanon.
People want change but so far every attempt at street protest has been hijacked by the political players.
This time it could be different.
The Covid-19 has changed the world although we are still not sure about the shape and extent of the change.
The USA is spiraling into an abyss and China is rising — the speed of the decline of USA and rise of China is nearly the same. Countries are adjusting their foreign policies to remain relevant in the newly emerging world.
The countries that believe that they have the right to intervene in other countries and shape their destiny are looking for political and economic vacuum and the ways to fill it according to their own liking.
For the countries and powers that feel that they are entitled to keep shaping the world, Lebanon is a place of special interest.
The idea is already taking roots that one way to deal with the Lebanon conundrum is to split it into a Christian and a Muslim state. This would be the most reckless and irresponsible thing to do.
Lebanon borders with Syria and Israel. Any attempts to disturb its geographic integrity would have a domino effect, spreading far and wide, ultimately reaching the engineers of this kind of folly.
If at all someone must intervene in Lebanon, it should be only to the extent to help dislodge the corrupt political elites and give the people a fair chance to elect the government of their choice.
Nearly every country in the world is a tinderbox now, for one reason or the other, to a lesser or greater extent. A malicious intervention in Lebanon will set many countries on fire.
Even though honesty of intention and purity of purpose are in short supply, we must scrape the barrel to somehow find a genuine solution for Lebanon. /// nCa, 9 August 2020