Only an international probe into Beirut blast would be legitimate

Only an international probe into Beirut blast would be legitimate

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A French rescue team dog searches for survivors at the scene of a massive explosion in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo)

Lebanon’s political classes under President Michel Aoun have shown very early and flagrantly that they are not serious about conducting an investigation into the causes of the explosion at Beirut port on Aug. 4. By rejecting the pleas of many domestic and international individuals and institutions to launch an independent inquiry into this horrible incident, the country’s leaders are trying to hide what is obvious to everyone: That they are controlled by Hezbollah and that this group is culpable for the blast that consumed Beirut and wreaked havoc on the whole country.

Any globally sponsored examination of who was responsible for the storing of vast quantities of the explosive ammonium nitrate at the port would assuredly be an elaboration of the misdeeds that have enveloped Lebanon as a result of its control and humiliation by Hezbollah and its allies.

The whole world has an interest in resolving the mystery of the Beirut explosion. It wants to save Lebanon, terminate Iran’s influence in the country, and free the great Lebanese people from the despotism of Hezbollah. An international investigation would give authority to the demands for reform in Lebanon and would bestow credit on the Lebanese people’s struggle for freedom.

An investigation would be a most laborious process, involving the collection of masses of information and substantiation of many testimonies regarding this heinous act. Basically, it requires independence from any government’s meddling and absolute neutrality on the part of the ruling party. The investigation would continue for a long time because more information and revelations would be disclosed regarding the circumstances and conditions that led to such a catastrophe. 

To follow on from this inquiry, there would have to be unveiled conclusions, unbiased findings and the firm application of the principles of justice, which require courage to implement. There will also be a great deal of discussions about the investigations, whether international or domestic, because people all over the world want to know the truth about what happened.

There will have to be certain standards enforceable in the conduct of any investigation. There has to be an invitation to carry out private studies by nongovernmental organizations. There should be warnings that lying and cheating in this case will be punishable. Most importantly, Iran should be monitored at every stage of the investigation because, if it tries to fabricate evidence through Hezbollah, it should be penalized.

Hezbollah will never publish a neat and satisfactory account of the port of Beirut accident. Most likely, it would announce, following a fake investigation, that major sections of the report will be withheld from the public because of sensitive information that, if released, could be harmful to Lebanon’s national security. But there would be many leaks coinciding with any investigation being executed, and this would stir much media sensationalism and curiosity. There has to be an emphasis on the serious nature of the investigation.

Seeking an international investigation would fulfill many important duties. It would treat all sides impartially. It would look at the responsibility of everyone at all levels. It would present all the facts. It would treat the witnesses fairly and with no intimidation, unlike a Hezbollah-instigated investigation, which could threaten those testifying against the group, not to mention that its investigation would be very selective, focusing on only a few dimensions of the sad event. An international investigation would be a sincere and earnest attempt to honor the lives lost and the damage done. It would be professional and would fuse the ideal of reforming Lebanon with the urgency to publicize the truth. Iran and Hezbollah’s methods of tarnishing evidence and their absence of objectivity over what they do would render their investigation a farce.

An international investigation would be a sincere and earnest attempt to honor the lives lost and the damage done.

Maria Maalouf

The stakes are high. There has to be an international call to prevent Hezbollah from getting away with its role in the explosion. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres should commission a team of international experts to execute the investigation. This is the only way to have the investigation acquire global legitimacy. The whole world has to endorse those Lebanese who are demanding an international investigation, as any Hezbollah investigation would be equivocal. History will not repeat itself in terms of Lebanon missing out on another opportunity for reform and progress. Hezbollah is causing the death of Lebanon. Eventually, Lebanon will defeat Hezbollah and be resurrected again.

  • Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She holds an MA in political sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib
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