Who Profits from the Beirut Blast?Making the case that the explosion resulted from an attack

PEPE ESCOBAR • AUGUST 7, 2020 • 2,300 WORDS •  • 

https://www.unz.com/pescobar/who-profits-from-the-beirut-blast/

The narrative that the Beirut explosion was an exclusive consequence of negligence and corruption by the current Lebanese government is now set in stone, at least in the Atlanticist sphere.

And yet, digging deeper, we find that negligence and corruption may have been fully exploited, via sabotage, to engineer it.

Lebanon is prime John Le Carré territory. A multinational den of spies of all shades – House of Saud agents, Zionist operatives, “moderate rebel” weaponizers, Hezbollah intellectuals, debauched Arab “royalty,” self-glorified smugglers – in a context of full spectrum economic disaster afflicting a member of the Axis of Resistance, a perennial target of Israel alongside Syria and Iran.

As if this were not volcanic enough, into the tragedy stepped President Trump to muddy the – already contaminated – Eastern Mediterranean waters. Briefed by “our great generals,” Trump on Tuesday said: “According to them – they would know better than I would – but they seem to think it was an attack.”

Trump added, “it was a bomb of some kind.”

Was this incandescent remark letting the cat out of the bag by revealing classified information? Or was the President launching another non sequitur?

Trump eventually walked his comments back after the Pentagon declined to confirm his claim about what the “generals” had said and his defense secretary, Mark Esper, supported the accident explanation for the blast.

It’s yet another graphic illustration of the war engulfing the Beltway. Trump: attack. Pentagon: accident. “I don’t think anybody can say right now,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I’ve heard it both ways.”

Still, it’s worth noting a report by Iran’s Mehr News Agency that four US Navy reconnaissance planes were spotted near Beirut at the time of the blasts. Is US intel aware of what really happened all along the spectrum of possibilities?

That ammonium nitrate

Security at Beirut’s port – the nation’s prime economic hub – would have to be considered a top priority. But to adapt a line from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Beirut.”

Those by now iconic 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut in September 2013 on board the Rhosus, a ship under Moldovan flag sailing from Batumi in Georgia to Mozambique. Rhosus ended up being impounded by Beirut’s Port State Control.

Subsequently the ship was de facto abandoned by its owner, shady businessman Igor Grechushkin, born in Russia and a resident of Cyprus, who suspiciously “lost interest” in his relatively precious cargo, not even trying to sell it, dumping style, to pay off his debts.

Grechushkin never paid his crew, who barely survived for several months before being repatriated on humanitarian grounds. The Cypriot government confirmed there was no request to Interpol from Lebanon to arrest him. The whole op feels like a cover – with the real recipients of the ammonium nitrate possibly being “moderate rebels” in Syria who use it to make IEDs and equip suicide trucks, such as the one that demolished the Al Kindi hospital in Aleppo.

The 2,750 tons – packed in 1-ton bags labeled “Nitroprill HD” – were transferred to the Hangar 12 warehouse by the quayside. What followed was an astonishing case of serial negligence.

From 2014 to 2017 letters from customs officials – a series of them – as well as proposed options to get rid of the dangerous cargo, exporting it or otherwise selling it, were simply ignored. Every time they tried to get a legal decision to dispose of the cargo, they got no answer from the Lebanese judiciary.

When Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab now proclaims, “Those responsible will pay the price,” context is absolutely essential.

Neither the prime minister nor the president nor any of the cabinet ministers knew that the ammonium nitrate was stored in Hangar 12, former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi, the director of the Center for Strategic Studies and International Relations in Tehran, confirms. We’re talking about a massive IED, placed mid-city.

The bureaucracy at Beirut’s port and the mafias who are actually in charge are closely linked to, among others, the al-Mostaqbal faction, which is led by former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, himself fully backed by the House of Saud.

The immensely corrupt Hariri was removed from power in October 2019 amid serious protests. His cronies “disappeared” at least $20 billion from Lebanon’s treasury – which seriously aggravated the nation’s currency crisis.

No wonder the current government – where we have Prime Minister Diab backed by Hezbollah – had not been informed about the ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate is quite stable, making it one of the safest explosives used in mining. Fire normally won’t set it off. It becomes highly explosive only if contaminated – for instance by oil – or heated to a point where it undergoes chemical changes that produce a sort of impermeable cocoon around it in which oxygen can build up to a dangerous level where an ignition can cause an explosion.

Why, after sleeping in Hangar 12 for seven years, did this pile suddenly feel an itch to explode?

So far, the prime straight to the point explanation, by Middle East expert Elijah Magnier, points to the tragedy being “sparked” – literally – by a clueless blacksmith with a blowtorch operating quite close to the unsecured ammonium nitrate. Unsecured due, once again, to negligence and corruption – or as part of an intentional “mistake” anticipating the possibility of a future blast.

This scenario, though, does not explain the initial “fireworks” explosion. And certainly does not explain what no one – at least in the West – is talking about: the deliberate fires set to an Iranian market in Ajam in the UAE, and also to a series of food/agricultural warehouses in Najaf, Iraq, immediately after the Beirut tragedy.

Follow the money

Lebanon – boasting assets and real estate worth trillions of dollars – is a juicy peach for global finance vultures. To grab these assets at rock bottom prices, in the middle of the New Great Depression, is simply irresistible. In parallel, the IMF vulture would embark on full shakedown mode and finally “forgive” some of Beirut’s debts as long as a harsh variation of “structural adjustment” is imposed.

Who profits, in this case, are the geopolitical and geoeconomic interests of US, Saudi Arabia and France. It’s no accident that President Macron, a dutifulRothschild servant, arrived in Beirut Thursday to pledge Paris neocolonial “support” and all but impose, like a Viceroy, a comprehensive set of “reforms”. A Monty Python-infused dialogue, complete with heavy French accent, might have followed along these lines: “We want to buy your port.” “It’s not for sale.” “Oh, what a pity, an accident just happened.”

Already a month ago the IMF was “warning” that “implosion” in Lebanon was “accelerating.” Prime Minister Diab had to accept the proverbial “offer you can’t refuse” and thus “unlock billions of dollars in donor funds.” Or else. The non-stop run on the Lebanese currency, for over a year now, was just a – relatively polite – warning.

This is happening amid a massive global asset grab characterized in the larger context by American GDP down by almost 40%, arrays of bankruptcies, a handful of billionaires amassing unbelievable profits and too-big-to-fail megabanks duly bailed out with a tsunami of free money.

Dag Detter, a Swedish financier, and Nasser Saidi, a former Lebanese minister and central bank vice governor, suggest that the nation’s assets be placed in a national wealth fund. Juicy assets include Electricité du Liban (EDL), water utilities, airports, the MEA airline , telecom company OGERO, the Casino du Liban.

EDL, for instance, is responsible for 30% of Beirut’s budget deficit.

That’s not nearly enough for the IMF and Western mega banks. They want to gobble up the whole thing, plus a lot of real estate.

“The economic value of public real estate can be worth at least as much as GDP and often several times the value of the operational part of any portfolio,” say Detter and Saidi.

Who’s feeling the shockwaves?

Once again, Israel is the proverbial elephant in a room now widely depicted by Western corporate media as “Lebanon’s Chernobyl.”

A scenario like the Beirut catastrophe has been linked to Israeli plans since February 2016.

Israel did admit that Hangar 12 was not a Hezbollah weapons storage unit. Yet, crucially, on the same day of the Beirut blast, and following a series of suspicious explosions in Iran and high tension in the Syria-Israeli border, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted , in the present tense: “We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this.”

That ties in with the intent, openly proclaimed late last week, to bomb Lebanese infrastructure if Hezbollah harms Israeli Defense Forces soldiers or Israeli civilians.

headline – “Beirut Blast Shockwaves Will Be Felt by Hezbollah for a Long Time” – confirms that the only thing that matters for Tel Aviv is to profit from the tragedy to demonize Hezbollah, and by association, Iran. That ties in with the US Congress “Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019” {S.1886}, which all but orders Beirut to expel Hezbollah from Lebanon.

And yet Israel has been strangely subdued.

Muddying the waters even more, Saudi intel – which has access to Mossad, and demonizes Hezbollah way more than Israel – steps in. All the intel ops I talked to refuse to go on the record, considering the extreme sensitivity of the subject.

Still, it must be stressed that a Saudi intel source whose stock in trade is frequent information exchanges with the Mossad, asserts that the original target was Hezbollah missiles stored in Beirut’s port. His story is that Prime Minister Netanyahu was about to take credit for the strike – following up on his tweet. But then the Mossad realized the op had turned horribly wrong and metastasized into a major catastrophe.

The problem starts with the fact this was not a Hezbollah weapons depot – as even Israel admitted. When weapons depots are blown up, there’s a primary explosion followed by several smaller explosions, something that could last for days. That’s not what happened in Beirut. The initial explosion was followed by a massive second blast – almost certainly a major chemical explosion – and then there was silence.

Thierry Meyssan, very close to Syrian intel, advances the possibility that the “attack” was carried out with an unknown weapon, a missile -– and not a nuclear bomb – tested in Syria in January 2020. (The test is shown in an attached video.) Neither Syria nor Iran ever made a reference to this unknown weapon, and I got no confirmation about its existence.

Assuming Beirut port was hit by an “unknown weapon,” President Trump may have told the truth: It was an “attack”. And that would explain why Netanyahu, contemplating the devastation in Beirut, decided that Israel would need to maintain a very low profile.

Watch that camel in motion

The Beirut explosion at first sight might be seen as a deadly blow against the Belt and Road Initiative, considering that China regards the connectivity between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as the cornerstone of the Southwest Asia Belt and Road corridor.

Yet that may backfire – badly. China and Iran are already positioning themselves as the go-to investors post-blast, in sharp contrast with the IMF hit men, and as advised by Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah only a few weeks ago.

Syria and Iran are in the forefront of providing aid to Lebanon. Tehran is sending an emergency hospital, food packages, medicine and medical equipment. Syria opened its borders with Lebanon, dispatched medical teams and is receiving patients from Beirut’s hospitals.

It’s always important to keep in mind that the “attack” (Trump) on Beirut’s port destroyed Lebanon’s main grain silo, apart from engineering the total destruction of the port – the nation’s key trade lifeline.

That would fit into a strategy of starving Lebanon. On the same day Lebanon became to a great extent dependent on Syria for food – as it now carries only a month’s supply of wheat – the US attacked silos in Syria.

Syria is a huge exporter of organic wheat. And that’s why the US routinely targets Syrian silos and burns its crops – attempting also to starve Syria and force Damascus, already under harsh sanctions, to spend badly needed funds to buy food

In stark contrast to the interests of the US/France/Saudi axis, Plan A for Lebanon would be to progressively drop out of the US-France stranglehold and head straight into Belt and Road as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Go East, the Eurasian way. The port and even a great deal of the devastated city, in the medium term, can be quickly and professionally rebuilt by Chinese investment. The Chinese are specialists in port construction and management.

This avowedly optimistic scenario would imply a purge of the hyper-wealthy, corrupt weapons/drugs/real estate scoundrels of Lebanon’s plutocracy – which in any case scurry away to their tony Paris apartments at the first sign of trouble.

Couple that with Hezbollah’s very successful social welfare system – which I saw for myself at work last year – having a shot at winning the confidence of the impoverished middle classes and thus becoming the core of the reconstruction.

It will be a Sisyphean struggle. But compare this situation with the Empire of Chaos – which needs chaos everywhere, especially across Eurasia, to cover for the coming, Mad Max chaos inside the US.

General Wesley Clark’s notorious 7 countries in 5 years once again come to mind – and Lebanon remains one of those 7 countries. The Lebanese lira may have collapsed; most Lebanese may be completely broke; and now Beirut is semi-devastated. That may be the straw breaking the camel’s back – releasing the camel to the freedom of finally retracing its steps back to Asia along the New Silk Roads.(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)

Coup porn: Resistance sees military removing Trump from office


OPINION

by Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent |   | August 13, 2020 08:58 AM

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/coup-porn-resistance-sees-military-removing-trump-from-office

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With 80 days left before the presidential election, a new and dangerous rhetoric has emerged from some corners of the Resistance. A number of President Trump’s most implacable critics are fantasizing about deploying the U.S. military to remove him from the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, based on their assumption that a.) he will lose the election, and b.) he will refuse to leave office on his own.

Recently, two retired Army officers speculated about deploying a brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division to overpower Trump’s “private army” that they believe the defeated president will use to try to cling to office. Another retired officer, a former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, imagined the military in battle with armed Trump supporters, the result being that “all bets are off as to how much blood might flow.” In addition, a group of former government officials, political operatives, and journalists concocted a scenario in which Trump actually won reelection but Democrat Joe Biden refused to accept the result in hopes that the military would side with him against the president.

What is going on? Why have seemingly responsible people taken to embracing fantastical visions of tanks in the streets of Washington, D.C.?

They, of course, would blame Trump. In a July 19 appearance on Fox News Sunday, the president was asked, “Can you give a direct answer you will accept the election?” Trump’s answer was, “I have to see. I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time, either.”

Trump’s response, similar to the answers he gave in 2016 when he was asked whether he would accept the results of that election, set off the usual firestorm. Trump will ignore the will of the voters! He’ll set off a constitutional crisis! He’ll destroy American democracy!

The speculation might have been less fevered had anyone actually noted how Trump has behaved in office. For example, what has Trump, as president, done when a judge tells him to stop doing something? He stops doing it. Starting with his travel ban and going on through his plan to end DACA and his move to impose new rules on asylum, his effort to revoke a reporter’s White House credential and his effort to detain families at the U.S.-Mexico border and his move to stop former national security adviser John Bolton’s book and his action to end sanctuary cities and his plan to impose a “public charge” test on immigrants and his multiple attempts to change various environmental policies and his plan to streamline the deportation process and his plan to liberalize energy restrictions and much, much more, Trump has done what judges tell him to do. No, he doesn’t deserve a medal for simply respecting the rule of law. But his conduct in office suggests he will not defy the legally certified result of an election.

Of course, that result might not be known on the night of Nov. 3, and if it is not, Trump might not immediately concede defeat, even if he is the ultimate loser. There might be litigation. But what is wrong with that? We have been hearing for a long time that, given heavy voting by mail, the voters’ verdict might not be known for weeks. Does anyone believe that Biden, if he were trailing by a small margin, would concede prematurely with the counting still underway?

Given the chances of widespread dysfunction in vote tabulation, there is certainly the possibility of a crisis after Nov. 3. But if it happens, it would likely involve the chaos brought on by a deeply divided nation going weeks or months without knowing who the next president will be — not a losing Trump refusing to leave the White House.

Nevertheless, hysterical scenarios are coming from some sources in the Resistance — a phenomenon that is particularly troubling when it comes from men with ties to the military. Start with the two retired Army officers, Paul Yingling and John Nagl. Yingling is a retired lieutenant colonel with several combat tours, including serving as Gen. H.R. McMaster’s deputy in the first Iraq war. Nagl, also a retired lieutenant colonel, is currently headmaster of the Haverford School in Pennsylvania. This week, the two men published, in the mainstream publication Defense One, an article entitled, “‘…All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic’: An Open Letter to Gen. Milley.” The addressee is Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Relying on MSNBC-style talking points, the two argue that the president is facing “near certain electoral defeat” and after losing would face “not merely political ignominy, but also criminal charges.” Nagl and Yingling say an ex-President Trump will face prosecution by the Manhattan District Attorney and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for bank fraud, insurance fraud, and “many examples of self-dealing.”

This, Yingling and Nagl allege, has made Trump a desperate man. And he has already begun taking desperate measures. “Given this dizzying array of threats not merely to his political prospects, but also his liberty and wealth,” they write, “Mr. Trump is following the playbook of dictators throughout history: he is building a private army answerable only to him.”

By “private army,” Nagl and Yingling appear to be referring to the president’s decision to send Department of Homeland Security officers to Portland, Oregon, to protect the federal courthouse there from rioters. “The members of this private army, often lacking police insignia or other identification, exist not to enforce the law but to intimidate the president’s political opponents,” Nagl and Yingling write.

That is where Milley comes in. Because Trump is a desperate man with a private army at his command, they argue, the Joint Chiefs chairman must order troops into the streets on Inauguration Day. “The clock will strike 12:01 PM, January 20, 2021, and Donald Trump will be sitting in the Oval Office,” Yingling and Nagl write. “The street protests will inevitably swell outside the White House, and the ranks of Trump’s private army will grow inside its grounds. The Speaker of the House will declare the Trump presidency at an end, and direct the Secret Service and Federal Marshals to remove Trump from the premises. These agents will realize that they are outmanned and outgunned by Trump’s private army, and the moment of decision will arrive. At this moment of constitutional crisis, only two options remain. Under the first, U.S. military forces escort the former president from the White House grounds. Trump’s little green men, so intimidating to lightly armed federal law enforcement agents, step aside and fade away, realizing they would not constitute a good morning’s work for a brigade of the 82nd Airborne. Under the second, the U.S. military remains inert while the Constitution dies. The succession of government is determined by extralegal violence between Trump’s private army and street protesters; Black Lives Matter Plaza becomes Tahrir Square.”

What is one to make of such a hallucinatory vision? “It’s bananas,” said one Republican lawmaker who has been following the talk. But it is more than just crazy, although it is crazy. It is chilling that retired military men are discussing military intervention in the transfer of political power based on Maddow-esque theorizing about the president’s imagined motivations and actions.

A second scenario of military intervention came from another prominent former Army officer. Appearing on Bill Maher’s Real Time, retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (a former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell) outlined a scene from the apocalypse on Inauguration Day. Wilkerson said he believed the military would stay in their barracks under most scenarios. But then: “I wonder what will happen if Trump calls his base to the streets with their guns. His base owns something like 60-70% of the 300, 400 million guns in America. If they answer that call and come to the streets with guns, then we probably are going to have a need for the military. And then, all bets are off as to how much blood might flow.”

Wilkerson is part of an anti-Trump group called the Transition Integrity Project, which was founded to promote the notion that Trump “may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 presidential election and transition process.” The group recently made news by holding “war games” to explore some possible election scenarios. The project, which includes about 100 former government officials, political operatives, academics, and journalists, explored two Biden victory scenarios, one a blowout, the other a narrow win. In the blowout, Trump left office on Jan. 20, 2021, with little drama. In the narrow win, Trump did not concede defeat, there were street protests, and a signal from the Secret Service that it would escort Trump out of the White House when the time came. After what the group called an “uneasy and combative but ultimately successful” transition, Trump left office on Jan. 20, 2021. In both scenarios, a defeated Trump left the White House at the appointed time. Neither scenario involved the military.

The big problem came when the experts at the Transition Integrity Project gamed out a clear Trump victory. In that scenario, as in the 2016 election, Trump lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College — meaning he won the presidency. But Biden and his Democratic supporters would not accept the election verdict. The transition period was wild. Biden pushed the Democratic governors of states Trump won to reject the president’s electors and substitute Biden electors instead. Democrats encouraged some states to secede from the United States to put pressure on Trump. Biden’s campaign made wild demands in exchange for conceding, such as statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and breaking up California to add new Democratic senators. A standoff ensued. Trump had without doubt won the presidency, but Democrats were willing to do virtually anything to keep the president from his second term. Finally, Inauguration Day came with the situation “unresolved.” The group’s report said: “It was unclear what the military would do in this situation.” The suggestion, never made explicit, was that Democrats would seek the military’s help in evicting the constitutionally elected president from the White House.

In June, Biden himself raised the possibility of the military removing Trump from office and praised retired generals and admirals who publicly condemned Trump’s handling of rioting around the country. Asked by Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah if he had considered the possibility of Trump losing and refusing to leave office, Biden quickly answered, “Yes, I have. And I was so damn proud — you have four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump. And you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, ‘Whoa, we’re not a military state. That is not who we are.’ I promise you, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

We are not, in fact, a military state. But there have arisen, among some of Trump’s angriest critics (especially those with military experience), disturbing imaginings about the military removing the president from office. Perhaps after three years of white-hot opposition to the president, there is an emotional gratification in contemplating soldiers grabbing Trump and taking him from the White House “with great dispatch.”

But perhaps the theorizing about Trump refusing to leave, which in turn would justify military action, is the final product of a deep frustration among those in the Resistance. At this point, they have thrown everything they have at him. Years of investigations. Unprecedented leaks of U.S. intelligence. Media treatment that has been negative beyond measure. And then, they tried impeachment, the constitutionally prescribed means of removing him from office during his term. That, too, failed.

Now, in November, comes the final constitutionally prescribed means of removing the president. At the moment, the polls give Biden a substantial lead. If Biden wins (even if it comes after a vote-counting process that is long and rocky), a reasonable look at Trump’s history suggests he will leave office like every other president. But for some, there could be something unsatisfying about a scenario in which a hated president simply loses and leaves. So, coup porn has appeared. Perhaps for some people, it fills a deep-seated need. But for others, it is a terrifying glimpse of the abandonment of basic constitutional principles.

Really, How Much?

The Defensive Training Group

From Alt-Market.com, here.

Excellent piece – do read the whole thing, and then, pass along.  Emphasis is mine.

Lockdown Restrictions Are A Test To See How Much Tyranny Americans Will Accept

The pandemic lockdowns are a complicated issue, and that is absolutely deliberate. The point of 4th Generation psychological warfare is to present the target individual or population with a hard choice – a no-win scenario. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I often equate this to the key moves in a difficult chess game; your primary goal is to create a dual threat and force your opponent to sacrifice one piece over another in order to escape with the least amount of damage. Do this a few times and you have won the long game.

There are multiple aspects to the global pandemic which seem…

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