With mounting lawsuits being filed by clean judges (whose lives are in constant danger), the corrupt ruling class in Lebanon is resorting to further flexing of its muscles. It has been reported that there are 6 casualties and dozens of injured from the recent clashes in and around the Tayyouneh neighborhood of Beirut.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the billionaire former militia leader turned politician has been going out of his way to remove investigative Judge Tarek Bitar from the Beirut port explosion that killed 219 people in August 2020.
Ministers belonging to Berri’s Amal Movement and those of other political parties have been summoned for questioning by Judge Bitar and so far, they have refused to follow the instructions of the investigation and trying by political means to have the judge removed.
Recently Berri and his supporters have been threatening to take to the streets opposing the investigation into the port explosion and he was handed a lifeline by fellow warlord Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces. Like Amal, the Lebanese Forces were a wartime militia that participated in war crimes and illicit activities, that then became an active political party after the war ended in 1990.
On October 14, Amal supporters were marching through the streets protesting the port investigation when they came under fire by supporters of the Lebanese Forces. Just like that, these two groups took the Lebanese back to a dark chapter in their history with bunkers set up in opposing buildings and gunfire exchange lighting the skies of Beirut once again.
These theatrics are nothing new to the Lebanese people and are usually known to be a preplanned diversion from both sides to further stall reforms and investigations. They pretend to oppose each other in the media, but it has been shown that the corrupt ruling class are as tight as ever despite their political and media rhetoric.
The two opposing sides took up positions to fire at each other for hours, knowing the only casualties would be civilians and the civil peace in Lebanon. They holed themselves up for hours with endless supplies of ammunition until the Lebanese National Army cordoned off the neighborhood, took control of the situation arresting many.
The port explosion in Beirut stalled the Forensic Audit being spearheaded by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun to find out how this tiny nation is in $130 billion USD debt without much to show for it. With the causes of the port explosion being investigated, these street battles only serve to further stall reforms and derail the investigation. In future, we should not be surprised to see new battles being waged to vindicate those recently arrested in order to continue stalling and diverting attention from matters that could revive Lebanon; like a host of anti-corruption laws and the forensic audit.
Lebanon is going through some tough times with its economic and political meltdown. The corrupt ruling class simply won’t let go of power or their corrupt ways and will stop at nothing to prevent the reformists from fixing the country.
Some of the corrupt ruling class include:
- The Amal Movement led by former warlord Nabih Berri (who remains Lebanon’s speaker of parliament since 1992) and is believed to be the Godfather of corruption in Lebanon.
- The Progressive Socialist Party led by former warlord Walid Jumblatt.
- The Future Movement led by Saad Hariri (whose father, Rafik Hariri former PM, appointed Riad Salameh in 1993 as Central Bank Governor and remains in his position till this day, who are responsible for endemic corruption and skyrocketing national debt in Lebanon).
- Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh who was appointed by Hariri senior in 1993 and remains in his position till this day.
- The Lebanese Forces led by convicted war criminal and former warlord Samir Geagea.
- The Marada Movement led by former warlord Sleiman Frangiyeh (a small player in Lebanon’s politics and considered a lackey of Berri).
All of the above have taken part in corruption and the obstruction of anti-corruption and reform laws.