Editor’s Note: The following is an unofficial translation of an article by the revolutionary newspaper in Brazil, A Nova Democracia, which has indispensable analysis on the recent devastating explosion in Lebanon.
By Júlia Izecksohn
After the huge explosion in the port of Beirut, capital of Lebanon, on August 4, which caused colossal destruction in a radius of more than 10 kilometers, killing at least 135 people and injuring more than 5,000, a two-week state of emergency was declared, and control over the city was handed over to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
The explosion, which has still not been cleared up, sparked a feeling of solidarity with the Lebanese people and nation around the world. However, in some cases, the appearance of goodwill, in reality masks the imperialist fury that views the country’s vulnerability as an opportunity.
On the ready, after such a terror that left more than 300 thousand people homeless in Beirut so far, France, the United States (USA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Central Bank and the “United Nations” ( The United Nations) rushed to urgently impose projected reforms on the country along similar lines, seeking to remove Lebanon from Iran and Syria and isolate Hezbollah and any group that acts in the defense of the country against Israeli and Yankee aggressions.
The day after the explosion, with Lebanon still in mourning and stunned by the events, the representative of French imperialism, Emmanuel Macron, traveled to the country dressed as a good Samaritan to advocate for the interests he represents. As soon as he arrived, he declared that, in addition to medicines and supplies, “what is also needed here is a political change”, and that “this explosion must be the beginning of a new era”. He also told the press that he will hold an international “aid” conference in Lebanon in the next few days.
Meanwhile, in the few hours he spent in the country, Macron uttered multiple attacks and threats to Lebanese national sovereignty and in addition to blatant colonialist political blackmail. Thus, he secured financial assistance to the country, on the condition that it was not “handed over to the corrupt”, delegitimizing any form of political institution in Lebanon that is not subject to his domination.
In addition, the French imperialist has repeatedly emphasized that he does not recognize any effort by the government to investigate what happened, demanding that an “independent” investigation be carried out in international courts.
When urging that Lebanon should be held to a “change pact” and undergo austerity reforms in the electricity, banking and customs sectors following “an international structure”, that is, following imperialist demands in exchange for such “aid”, he stressed that the World Bank and the UN would play a central role in implementing these reforms. Separately, the representative of French imperialism emphasized that, among these changes would be the audit of the Lebanese Central Bank.
In another infamous comment, Macron stated that in a short time Lebanon will begin to suffer from the scarcity of food and fuel and that “this will be the fault of those who refuse to act today,” with a tone of threat to those who do not align themselves with their blackmail. However, he conveniently refrains from mentioning the sanctions launched by Yankee imperialism that helped to choke Lebanon’s economy, prevented Iran’s oil supply to the country and suppressed its relations with the neighboring nation, Syria.
Despite saying that he would meet “all political actors” to discuss the situation in the country, Macron deliberately excluded people linked to Hezbollah. At a press conference held at the Pine Palace, for example, reporter Mona Tahini of Al-Manar (a television channel in favor of Hezbollah) was prevented from asking the French president a question. Although the given excuse was that Macron did not have time to answer his question, the journalist recorded a video showing the Frenchman talking and taking pictures with journalists who support him.
As soon as he arrived, Macron paid a “visit” to the site of the explosion, where, surrounded by people in favor of imperialist intervention in the country, they shouted in calling for the resumption of national submission to French colonialism. In 1922, Lebanon was placed under French mandate and, during the Second World War, it was occupied by French forces supported by English imperialism. To this, Macron replied that he hoped for “changes” in Lebanon, based on, “anger by young people and the streets”.
THE COST OF INTERNATIONAL ‘HELP’
General Frank McKenzie, spokesman for the USA’s Central Command (Centcom), responsible for all Yankee imperialism operations in the Extended Middle East region, said the Yankee Army is ready to assist the Lebanese in a “partnership” between the USA Agency for International Development (USAID), the Lebanese Army (LAF) and the Yankee Embassy in Lebanon.
The Yankee Embassy in Beirut subsequently confirmed on August 7 that the USA would send a total of $15 million in food and medical supplies.
Yankee imperialism has deliberately financed the Lebanese army for many years to serve as a “critical bulwark” against Hezbollah. In December 2019, for example, the USA sent more than $105 million in military assistance to Lebanon, but since 2006 more than $1.7 billion has been provided to the LAF, according to the press monopoly The Washington Post. These funds equipped the LAF with Yankee aircraft, artillery, armament and ammunition, as well as military training and “advisory support”.
The USA’s tax appropriations bill for the year 2020, sanctioned by arch-reactionary President Donald Trump, reiterated that US funding for LAF aims to, “professionalize LAF to mitigate internal and external threats from non-state actors, including Hezbollah,” and that he hoped the LAF would use the money to “ban the sending of arms and prevent the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups.”
The IMF, on the other hand, urged the Lebanese government to adopt the reforms it had been proposing for the current administration of the old Lebanese state since May, in negotiations over the crisis in Lebanon, which dates back years. After the explosion of the Port of Beirut, the IMF declared that, “it is essential to overcome the impasse in discussions on critical reforms.”
As Thomas Sankara, leader of the National Resistance movement of the French colony of Alto Volta (later, the independent nation of Burkina Faso), put the question of imperialist “aid”: such “aid and assistance policies only led us to stay completely disorganized, to enslave us, to escape our responsibility in our economic, political and cultural areas. We chose to seek forms of organization that best adapt to our civilization, abruptly rejecting, and once and for all, all types of external impositions,” in his speech at the UN General Assembly in 1984.
LEBANON SHOULD RESPOND TO ITS OWN PROBLEMS
Lebanon is already experiencing a deep economic and political crisis, with unemployment reaching 25% of the population, thrown into misery and hunger, while the basic services of assistance to the people were scrapped and “privatized”: the local energy sector company, Electricité du Liban, and the Port of Beirut itself suffered successive budget cuts, and access to drinking water and public health was already precarious for most people.
At the end of 2019, the situation reached an even higher level of criticality, when it was revealed that the country’s central bank administered a “Ponzi scheme”, in which it borrowed money from banks at higher interest rates than the market to pay the old state’s debts. In October, a scarcity of foreign currency led the Lebanese pound to lose value against the dollar, reaching the point where wheat and fuel importers demanded payment in dollars.
The country was then overwhelmed by demonstrations by thousands of Lebanese masses. which led to the resignation of the then Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, who had the support of Yankee and French imperialism, and even moved his family to Paris at Macron’s request after his resignation.
His father, Rafik Hariri, a Lebanese tycoon and twice prime minister of the country, has played a central role in the policy of precarious living and basic services since the 1990s. Lebanon’s problems, as part of a a failed system of oppression and exploitation, which dates back to its time as a French colony, must be resolved by the Lebanese people themselves, and not following imperialist impositions disconnected from the national reality.
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