Translation of an important article at al Akhbar, on the betrayal by Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Beshara Rai, who is now openly identified with Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (which gained 9% of the national vote in the 2018 elections, a quarter of the country’s Christian community), and backs Israeli propaganda against Lebanon’s resistance.

Original 24 August 2020 article in Arabic: https://www.al-akhbar.com/Politics/292991/استثمار-4-آب-من-دير-شبيغل-الى-الراعي?fbclid=IwAR1Ixq5I4I_4GWV8yLcbOsEvKE43yadTLHhwkyFmZvIoIYscMfvgOMKc5Kw

In light of the inability of the ruling class to agree on launching a train to form a new government, which prompted Speaker Nabih Berri to announce his “withdrawal” from the composition negotiations, the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi returned to play on the topic of “active neutrality,” but yesterday he reached the point of promoting peace with Israel, on the basis that “Lebanon today is most in need of peace to be able to regain its strength and play its role in its surroundings to serve human and peoples’ rights. Enough wars, fights and conflicts we do not want!

Not only that, the Patriarch did not hesitate to identify with Israeli propaganda accusing Hezbollah of storing weapons in residential neighborhoods. Therefore, he called on the Lebanese authority to consider the disaster of Beirut Port as a wake-up call, and to initiate the raids of all weapons caches, explosives and their stores spread illegally between residential neighborhoods in cities, towns and villages. He said that the existence of these caches represents a serious and serious threat to the lives of citizens that do not belong to any person, class, party or organization.

Al-Ra’i’s words cannot be isolated from the deliberate pursuit of demonizing Hezbollah, as a matter of the port’s explosion, the haste to use the results of the bombing to direct political “storming,” and an attempt to reap immediate political and popular results. After unsuccessful attempts to attach the blast to the party by accusing it of storing weapons, the campaign moved to accusing it of being responsible for the nitrate shipment. In a context similar to the one adopted 15 years ago to hold the party responsible for the bombing that targeted Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the German magazine “Der Spiegel” returned to be the focus of a chorus accusing it of being responsible for the nitrate shipment. This move began with the German newspaper Die Welt, which accused the party of bringing shipments of nitrates into Lebanon, other than the ones that exploded in the port. It can be said that the source of the “Die Welt” information was none other than Israeli intelligence. After that, “Spiegel” entered the line, in cooperation with the OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Tracking Project and its partners), which makes no secret that it is receiving funding from the US government. In a report prepared by the German magazine and the American-funded organization, the link between the party and the nitrate charge was, to say the least, cheap. The authors of the report say that the owner of the company that owns the ship that came to Lebanon in 2013 loaded with 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate owns a company that in 2011 obtained a loan from the FBME Bank, a bank in Cyprus and Tanzania owned by Lebanese, and was liquidated by US orders, in 2017. Based on an accusation of money laundering and of opening accounts for a person accused by the American administration of financing Hezbollah. The owner of the company that owns the ship is not its charterer, nor is he the owner of the nitrate shipment. However, this did not prevent “Der Spiegel” from linking nitrates to Hezbollah, in the title of its story.

As was the case in the investigation into the assassination of Hariri in 2005, also after the port explosion in 2020: Information is published in foreign media (Spiegel …), then a campaign is launched in Lebanese and Arab media outlets, especially those funded by the West and the Gulf, to deal with what is published in The West as a pillar of a political accusation. In this case, the facts are not important. No matter how weak the information is, and no matter how weak the conclusions drawn from it, what is important is what will stick in the minds of the recipients.

Just as the campaign against Hezbollah, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, is also being subjected to a coordinated attack, this time not in terms of the political affiliation of the Director General of Customs, but by directing an accusation against Bassil that he brought the “nitrate steamer” to Beirut. This accusation is based on the fact that the equipment and trucks that the ship “Roussos” brought to Beirut for shipment to Jordan, were used by a company in Lebanon to implement a contract in favor of the Ministry of Energy. When the company wanted to send equipment and trucks to Jordan in 2013, it chose, through a broker of marine agencies, the ship “Roussos”, which was loaded with nitrates and was unable to carry trucks and equipment and was suspended in Beirut. Although the Ministry of Energy had no connection with the export or the selection of the ship, yesterday, by a security-political decision, Basil was pushed into the case to hold him responsible for the ship.