US Supports Unrest in Lebanon in Hope of Regime Change in Blast-Devastated Beirut
Story Code : 879228
Thousands of people gathered at Martyrs' Square in Central Beirut on Saturday, demanding the government to resign after the horrific explosion on Tuesday that killed and wounded thousands. Amid clashing with riot police, violent protesters stormed several government buildings in the city, breaching the Foreign Ministry, the Economy Ministry and the Ministry of Water and Energy premises.
Demonstrators threw rocks and projectiles at the officers, who responded by employing tear gas. The Lebanese Army was also deployed in Beirut later to help police restore order.
The number of injuries climbed to at least 500, according to the emergency medical services cited by Al-Manar TV. Authorities announced that 70 security officers were injured and at least one them died in clashes.
Even though, rallies and violence continue in several US cities over the police killing of George Floyd, and the US police and federal agents brutality against peacefull demonstrations has gone to the extreme in recent months, the US embassy in Beirut wade into the crisis in Lebanon on Saturday, voicing its support for the citizens’ “right to peaceful protest”.
"The Lebanese people have suffered too much and deserve to have leaders who listen to them and change course to respond to popular demands for transparency and accountability," the embassy said, and added, "We support them in their right to peaceful protest, and encourage all involved to refrain from violence."
The violent protests came as a large part of the city lies in ruins, with many victims still feared trapped under the rubble, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab noted that he was going to request an early parliamentary election as the only way to resolve the crisis.
While rallies over the dire economic conditions in Lebanon were underway before the incident, the Beirut tragedy came to be a ploy for the anti-government camp.
Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon. Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.
Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.
The incident has killed 158 people and sent 6,000 to the hospital with various injuries from the devastating shockwave. The explosion left 300,000 homeless, as vast part of the city has been fallen into ruin.
Lebanese rescue workers and army soldiers are struggling to remove huge items of debris in search for possible survivors at Beirut's port. The Lebanese Red Cross believes there are still tens of people missing.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.
Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.
On Friday, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun stated an investigation into the Beirut port explosion was looking at whether it was the result of external interference, in addition to simple negligence or an accident.
Aoun also noted no colonial power can return to Lebanon, following a trip by French President Emmanuel Macron to disaster-stricken Beirut that sparked outrage among the Lebanese.
The Lebanon’s president also rejected calls for an international probe into the incident.
Speaking in a televised speech on Friday, Secretary General of Hezbollah Seyed Hassan Nasrallah strongly denied claims that the resistance movement had any weapons stored at the warehouse prior to the explosion, adding that those accusations aimed to incite the Lebanese people against the resistance group.
He stressed that that the investigation will soon "reveal the truth" behind the deadly blast.