Zarif: Nations Shouldn't Exploit Beirut Blast for Own Motives

W460

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that Western countries should not take advantage of the massive explosion in Beirut last week that killed and injured thousands of people to dictate their own policies on the tiny Arab country.

Zarif's comments came in Beirut as a senior U.S. official and France's defense minister were in the country. The Aug. 4 blast at Beirut's port killed nearly 180 people, injured 6,000 and caused widespread damage in the capital.

Lebanon's government resigned earlier this week under pressure and consultations between rival groups are ongoing over who will replace Hassan Diab as prime minister.

The blast has led to rising popular anger at official corruption and mismanagement and political uncertainty. Western leaders have said they will send aid directly to the Lebanese people and that billions of dollars will not be pumped into the country before major reforms take place.

During a visit to Beirut last week, French President Emmanuel Macron met political leaders in Lebanon and called on them to create a "new political order."

Lebanese local media reported that the U.S. wants the new government in Lebanon to exclude the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and its allies.

"We believe that Lebanon as government and people are the side that decide on this," Zarif said after meeting with outgoing Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbi. "No foreign side should take advantage of the catastrophic conditions and the needs of Lebanon to impose dictates that are in their interests."

He described reported U.S. attempts to dictate and impose a government leaving out major Lebanese political factions "inhumane." Zarif added that he raised the possibility of cooperation between Tehran and Beirut in the fields of reconstruction and improving Lebanon's crumbling electricity sector.

President Michel Aoun met Friday with U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale and told him that the priority of the new government will be to conduct reforms and fight corruption, according to Aoun's office.

On Thursday, Hale said the FBI will join Lebanese and other international investigators in the probe of Beirut's massive explosion.

Earlier on Friday, the United Nations humanitarian affairs agency said in its report that the explosion has affected operations at six hospitals, up from an initial three, and damaged more than 20 clinics in the parts of Beirut worst hit by the blast.

"A preliminary rapid assessment within a 15-kilometre radius of the explosions, has revealed that, out of 55 medical facilities, only half are fully operational and around 40 per cent have suffered moderate to serious damage and need rehabilitation," the report said.

It still wasn't known what caused the Aug. 4 fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut's port. But documents have emerged in the wake of the explosion that show the country's top leadership and security officials were aware of the chemicals being stored in the city port.

Lebanon's Parliament on Thursday approved a state of emergency in Beirut in its first session since the tragic explosion last week, granting the military sweeping powers amid rising popular anger and political uncertainty.

Some 120 schools, used by 50,000 students, have been damaged. More than 1,000 of nearly 50,000 residential units were severely damaged, the U.N. report said.

At east 13 refugees, including at least two Palestinians, were among those killed and more than 170,000 residents' apartments were damaged, according to the U.N. report.

Despite damage to the silos in the Beirut port, the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said food shortages are not expected.

The blast struck Beirut in the midst of a crippling financial and economic crisis, and the U.N. predicted people may have difficulties restoring or fixing their homes. But at least 55% of buildings assessed were rented, which may allow people to move elsewhere, the U.N. said.

According to the world body the Beirut port is operating at 30% capacity and the Tripoli port in the country's north, at 70% . That is allowing for food and goods to continue to flow. The World Food Program is bringing in a three-month supply of wheat flour and grains.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs agency said however it is concerned about a surge in coronavirus cases, particularly as social distancing is relaxed during the widespread volunteering to help those affected by the blast and protests against the government and political elite.

Comments 8
Missing samiam 14 August 2020, 14:12

Says the one who would exploit anything in any country for his own motives....

Have kizb go back to Iran---we promise we won't protest.

Missing kazan 14 August 2020, 14:20

All agree that Lebanon is located in a difficult and complex region and many wars and disasters happened, all agree that there are a lot of refugees in the country, all agree that the government is corrupt ,all agree that the country is governed by warlords .Nevertheless the biggest challenge for Lebanon is that the population will realise and accept that all the Lebanese citizens should have equal rights and equal opportunities disregards their different religious background. Unfortunately, some stil believe that certain group should have more privileges than others . As long as this is the case warlords will keep control , their names and titles might change but the misery of the people will not ,and of course foreign countries will keep intervening and patronizing , like we witnessed in the past 75 years .

Missing kazan 14 August 2020, 14:21

All agree that Lebanon is located in a difficult and complex region and many wars and disasters happened, all agree that there are a lot of refugees in the country, all agree that the government is corrupt ,all agree that the country is governed by warlords .Nevertheless the biggest challenge for Lebanon is that the population will realise and accept that all the Lebanese citizens should have equal rights and equal opportunities disregards their different religious background. Unfortunately, some stil believe that certain group should have more privileges than others . As long as this is the case warlords will keep control , their names and titles might change but the misery of the people will not ,and of course foreign countries will keep intervening and patronizing , like we witnessed in the past 75 years .

Thumb justice 14 August 2020, 14:30

Zarif: Nations Shouldn't Exploit Beirut Blast for Own Motives

so, what are you doing in Beirut?

Thumb s.o.s 14 August 2020, 16:43

Exactement !

Missing un520 14 August 2020, 15:03

Iran should not exploit Lebanon for their own motives. So far you have provided Hezbollah with around 200 000 rockets if we are to believe Hassan Nasrallah. Since I have never seen any Hezbollah army-camp og even a warehouse with their sin on, it must be stacked in civilian areas (mosques, schools, hospitals). So even after the Beirut blast, we Lebanese is still living on a powder keg, thanks to Hezbollah...

Missing opinion101 14 August 2020, 15:30

The dictatorship of Iran which tortures and kills its own people cannot provide the economic assistance and stability lebanon requires.

Hence the reactions

Missing opinion101 14 August 2020, 15:35

Funnily enough Iran opposes Israel however are killing Arabs in the middle east through their involvement in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon etc.

Talk about irony