For almost 20 months, Lebanon has been suffering an increasingly severe economic collapse, one that has been aggravated by the August 2020 blast that hit the Beirut port, destroying major parts of the Lebanese capital.
The Russian company that delivered the ammonium nitrate to the Beirut port is now hiding behind a new firm allegedly found to skip the sanctions imposed on the original company by the US government. This firm arrived in Lebanon with "rescue projects". https://t.co/Gj83onxlZe— Sally Abu AlJoud | سالي (@JoudSally) July 2, 2021
In recent weeks, Lebanese people have reported acute shortages of oil, water, and other basic commodities, in addition to the country's decades-old electricity crisis. Thanks to continued political divisions that are blocking any attempts to forming a new government in the country, in addition to the lack of management to rescue Lebanon from the deeply troubling situation, foreign entities are trying to present solutions and initiate reconstruction projects.
In addition to talks of German, Turkish, and Chinese ideas that have not continued, a delegation of Russian officials and businessmen arrived in Lebanon last week, to evaluate investment opportunities in the country.
While most reports hinted that more than one Russian business is interested in such plans, media sources have only named one business, which is Hydro Engineering and Construction.
Senior level Russian delegation will arrive to Lebanon on Monday to present offer to— Hussein 🇱🇧 (@EyesonSouth) June 26, 2021
•build 2 power stations
•operate 2 oil refineries
•rebuild Beirut Port & activate Tripoli port
Note that US previously prevented Leb. gov. from cooperating with Russia, as with Iran & China
According to official announcements, Hydro Engineering and Construction is interested in rebuilding the Beirut port which was destroyed during the massive blast that hit the area in August 2020, including the 50-years old grains silos building. It is also talking about reconstructing two oil refineries and two power plants across the country, in addition to projects to boost trade activity in the Tripoli port.
However, Lebanese local media and activists have expressed a sense of mistrust towards the Russian business, especially after some reports found out that Hydro Engineering and Construction was only founded on the 5th of February 2021, and that is owned by the huge Russian Stroytransgaz, known for being sanctioned by the US for its links to the Russian government.
Big: In 2013 U.S. Announces Sanctions on 2 Accused of Dealings With Assad— ܡܐܪܝܘ 🇱🇧🇬🇧 (@MarioLeb79) January 13, 2021
and they found that George Haswani and Mudalal Khury
were trying to Obtain Ammonium Nitrate in 2013, the year AN arrived to #Beirut
article from 2013 👇#Beirutexplosion #Lebanon https://t.co/KW6xwduhRA pic.twitter.com/ze7R71mMr6
⚠️Nitrate d'ammonium, #Beyrouth, 4 août 2020, 6500 blessés, 204 morts⚠️— Maroin Al Dandachi 🌻 (@Maldandachi) January 13, 2021
Le journaliste #FirasHatoum devoile le propriétaire de #Hesco Engineering, Georges Haswani, partenaire clé du tyran #Bashar Al-Assad. #Liban @megaphone_news pic.twitter.com/7tRm8AKAkY
Lebanese-based independent news platform Megaphone has linked the Russian business planning to "rescue Lebanon" to Russian-Syrian businessman Georges Haswani, who is said to have direct links to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Most fears of an approaching deal with Hydro Engineering and Construction suspect that it will introduce a deeper role for Russia and its regional allies in Lebanon, especially that Georges Haswani's name was often highlighted in possible involvement in the 2020 Beirut blast, besides a possible role he played in providing ISIS with cash in exchange for either protection for Russian-controlled facilities in Syria or for oil, according to Wall Street Journal reports in 2016.
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