The explosion in Beirut last week shook more than the capital of Lebanon: it shook the country’s government to its core. Prime Minister Hassan Diab has vowed to step down from his role, and has stated that the corruption in Lebanon is “bigger than the state”. Diab’s resignation comes after over a third of Lebanon’s officials stepped down.
The explosion last week that devastated Beirut’s port has been blamed on “widespread corruption” within the state’s government. “I said that corruption is rooted in every part of the state,” stated Diab. “But I found out that corruption is greater than the state. A political class is using all their dirty tricks to prevent real change. The more we tried to get to them, the bigger the walls became.
“This disaster is the result of chronic corruption. The corruption network is bigger than the state.”
In the wake of last week’s catastrophic explosion, several members of Lebanon’s parliament have stepped down. This will trigger a new round of elections. Many reformists within the country hope that this fills parliament with a number of fresh faces who are untouched by the top-level corruption in the nation.
The explosion itself occurred Tuesday when a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate caught fire. Due to negligence and incompetence, thousands of tons of the materials were being stored in the same building as flammable materials. Thus, a simple spark was all it would have taken to create the devastating explosion.
The accidental explosion immediately killed over a hundred people. Thousands more were injured. Search and rescue operations were quickly turned into recovery efforts looking for bodies.
Widespread Lebanese corruption in the form of patronage has made the country unstable for decades. Since the end of the civil war in the 90s, top-level politicians in the country have been essentially running the country in order to fleece the citizenry. They have taken huge portions of public funds meant to fund things like waste management for themselves.
This situation has been a problem in Lebanon for decades. The explosion was simply the culmination of years of mismanagement, incompetence and corruption. Now, the Lebanese people are calling out for a new government. Protesters openly clash with Parliamentary guards. A “caretaker” government composed of the same ministers who have been leading the country is unlikely to satisfy an outraged public.
Right now, the people of Lebanon are calling for a massive change in their governance.