August 9, 2020 Ali

Insanity #2: Beirut: Blasted, Bruised & Battered – Yet As Ever Basting for Another Bounce  

Insanely Sane Calling Out Absurdities & Curating Common Sense for The Greater Good


  • For beginners: The formula for most combustive explosive base: corruption 30 yrs x (negligence 6 yrs + void of leadership)
  • The Beirut blast is the 3rd largest explosion recorded on earth after Hiroshima & Nagasaki – hard to believe, but it is!
  • 160 dead + 5K injured & counting, 300K homeless, the trade artery and nerve system of Beirut vanished in a blink
  • Hospitals damaged and most are off grid in the midst of a global pandemic – 500-1000 beds are lost
  • The Caesars Act Sanctions by U.S had already sent Lira to a devaluation free-fall of 80% vs. $ & sinking before the port sank
  • On top a 1.7m or a whopping 37% of its population are refugees – imagine if U.K had 24m refugees on its soil
  • It has less than a month’s reserve of grains/wheat – some “Arab Spring” movements started as “bread revolutions”
  • Lebanon’s political elite and heads are material for “Natural History Museum” – old, arcane and out of touch
  • The explosion didn’t only blow out every glass frame in Beirut but also shattered the rib-cage of Lebanon’s economy
  • The carnage and damage to Lebanon and Beirut’s infrastructure in 30 seconds is what a systemic war could cause in a week
  • MENA people bear Masochism (authoritarianism/corruption) @ home & Sadism (covert ops/wars/sanctions) by global powers
  • The conspiratorial, guessing and blame game is already in motion – in Lebanon events are seen through a kaleidoscope
  • The Gov. can not in anyway be absolved of its incompetence and many valid questions remain buried under the rubble
  • Warehouse # 12 the epicentre of the blast is out of sight, yet the ebbs & flows of power at the port are stronger than ever…

Staying Sober, Sound & Sensible

  • Since Phoenicians Beirut has been one of the most strategic ports in the Med sea & on global geopolitical chessboard
  • Tuesday’s explosion was also the sound of “Starter’s Gun” on who will land, rebuild, anchor and control Beirut
  • BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) is the name of the game & it will come with conditions attached, normally for +
  • U.S has been closely monitoring the Belt Road Initiative and China’s ambitions for establishing its sea routes to Europe
  • The recent strategic framework for investment of $400bn/25 years by China in Iran is a multi-faceted pivot & gazes beyond
  • Given Iran’s strong sway, clout and foothold in Lebanon, Tel Aviv, D.C & Riyadh felt that China is making major strides
  • Chinese have been paying at least 8-10 official visits to Beirut & Tripoli (in the north) to identify the best place for mooring
  • DP World (which lost its Djibouti port to China), & Turkey (a major antagonist of Syria) both vie – yet none stands a chance
  • 27 States of U will be too slow to pole position, despite this week’s charm offensive French Mandate: Fresh in Memories
  • U.K with Brexit still in limbo & the highest human toll of pandemic in E.U will have a hard electoral time to partake
  • Hard to believe, yet Beirut can be where Nixon’s historic opening to China will meet with Donald’s closing on China
  • Russia in Tartus, China & Iran in Beirut would seem like a nightmare for Neo-cons in U.S & Israel
  • Beirut will become a major chess-game between U.S/Israel and China/Iran and will have its own twists, turns & checkmates
  • For George Kennan’s protégés in U.S policy engine, containment of China & Iran is non-negotiable & the highest priority
  • The evaporation of Beirut port serves both of those goals and enhances the significance of Haifa’s port & U.S weight

In the meantime and while the Realpolitik of the Port Power makes its own waves….

  1. Beirut should undertake a rapid audit on infrastructure integrity around the entire city – such a massive blast acts as a termite
    • How to avoid a Genoa Bridge (Italy) repetition – the tragedies that can ensue can be as heart breaking
  2. Australian & Canadian Wheat Boards could be the cheerleaders if they were to send a year’s wheat to Lebanon
    • To contextualise combined 5% of the population of both countries are from Lebanese origins
  3. IMF/Mrs. Georgieva has a new Rubik Cube – one with 2 extra sides – a wiped out infrastructure & humanitarian crisis
    • IMF should avoid a quid pro quo game with Beirut now – Buenos Aires and Beirut only share the B
  4. Lebanese diaspora & celebrities should mobilise, and to start with:
    • Carlos Slim Helú the 5th richest man in the world could step in – with a net worth of $52 bn.
      • Why not set up a Lebanon Helú Fund in honour of his late parents (Helú: translates to beautiful in Arabic)
      • That would separate his league in more ways beyond The Giving Pledge of W. Buffet & B.Gates
    • A telethon by Shakira, Mika, Salma Hayek, Paul Anka, Amal Clooney can bring the best of celeb power to the cause
  5. People in Beirut have lost their homes, their jobs and their loved ones and DEMAND a reset a fresh start. The ruling elite should go to self-exile. If Spain’s King Juan Carlos can find a sanctuary they should also be able to do so too. Maybe co-live together as many of them lived like kings anyway!
  6. One of Lebanon’s many gifted artists should make a series of sculptures from the remaining wreckage of metal at the port as a stark reminder of the price of negligence, and to be placed on the desk of every decision maker in the country. 

The images of the abandoned golden wheat blown out of damaged silos on the port are a stark reminder of wasted seeds of hope and forgotten potential of young generation of Lebanese, laid bare under the Mediterranean sun.

If Lebanon implodes it could have the same devastating impact & carnage caused by Warehouse#12 for the world, the region and beyond. We cannot ignore Beirut and the Lebanese for another 6 years and in their hour of need!

Ali Borhani is the Managing Director of 3Sixty Strategic Advisors Ltd. It is the readers’ responsibility to verify their own
facts. The views and opinions expressed in this article/commentary are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other individual, agency, organization, employer or company.