“The investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut has become the mirror of the sectarianism gripping Lebanon. What happened yesterday can be explained as follows: Christians against Shiite Muslims, in a tug-of-war that threatens to bring Lebanon into an abyss greater than what it is already in “. Michael Young, writer, analyst and director of Diwan, the Carnegie Middle East Center’s blog on the Middle East, this time watched his Beirut explode from above: the lack of electricity led him to take refuge in the mountains around the city, in a solar powered house. The mirror of a country, the one that Young has been studying for decades, where people survive by getting by, without ever counting on the state.
What’s behind yesterday’s clashes and deaths?
“Sectarianism. Most of the victims of the August 4, 2020 explosion were Christians, because one of the Christian parts of the city was destroyed. Many survivors believe that Hezbollah is somehow responsible for the nitrate accumulated in the port that led to the There is no evidence, but this judge has no intention of stopping the investigation. In recent days he has ordered the arrest of an important member of Amal (second Shiite Lebanese party, ed) and Hezbollah feared that it could also reach So they launched an attempt of intimidation towards the State, but also towards Christians, in whose area the courthouse is located “.
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So you agree that Christian militias fired, despite the absence of a claim?
“Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces in recent days had made it clear that they would not tolerate Shiite provocations in their area. Now they deny that they are responsible, but they also say that those responsible are Hezbollah and their weapons. A rather ambiguous position”.
Teme an escalation?
“In Lebanon, nothing can be said with certainty. But nobody wants an escalation. The Christians of Geagea do not want it, because they are not in a position of strength. And neither are those of President Michel Aoun, who are allies of Hezbollah and would be in position. But, more importantly, Hezbollah does not want it: a clash with Christians today would make Hassan Nasrallah lose his alliance with Aoun and leave his movement totally isolated “.
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But Hezbollah is today the strongest Lebanese party: and the strongest among the country’s militias …
“This is true. But if he took up arms he would be alone against everyone. The Christians would unite. The Sunnis and the Druze are already their enemies. It would be a civil war, in which Hezbollah would be isolated. Hezbollah’s strength, its alliance with Aoun. , it is also his weakness, and Nasrallah knows it well: he has always been very careful in dealing with the sectarian question. He knows that he risks and will do everything to avoid escalation. If he concentrated on the home front he could no longer respond to the demands of his major sponsor, Iran. And this cannot be “.