Anti-government protesters shout slogans in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP)

August 8, 2020

Protesters chanted “Iran, get out! Beirut is free, free!” in front of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry building on Saturday during the anti-government demonstrations in the wake of the deadly Beirut explosion.

Thousands of protesters had gathered in the streets of Beirut to voice their anger at the political elite they hold accountable for turning the capital into a disaster zone.

A group of protestors led by retired Lebanese army officers stormed the foreign ministry building and put up banners that read “capital of the revolution” and “Beirut is a demilitarized city.” They also burned a picture of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Iran has a long history of arming and financially supporting its network of proxies – Shia militias across the Middle East – to further its influence in the region. Most notably, Tehran backs Hezbollah, a Shia militia in Lebanon which has a powerful grip on the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah strongly denied on Friday claims that his group had stored arms at the Port of Beirut.

“I categorically deny” such rumors, Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “We have nothing in the port: not an arms depot, nor a missile depot nor missiles nor rifles nor bombs nor bullets nor ammonium nitrate,” he added.

Lebanon, a country already reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis, and a surge in coronavirus infections, was struck by the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut on Tuesday which killed at least 158 people and injured more than 6,000.

Al Arabiya

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.