Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Lebanese security forces approach protesters central Beirut on August 10, 2020. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

Lebanese Prime Minister and His Entire Cabinet Resign Amid Mass Protests Over Deadly Beirut Explosion

Outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab called the devastating blast a "crime" and blamed it on the "chronic corruption" of Lebanon's political elite.

Jake Johnson

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his entire cabinet resigned Monday amid widespread anger and mass protests over a massive warehouse explosion in Beirut last week that killed more than 150 people, wounded thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

In an address to the nation Monday as street demonstrations raged, Diab blamed the catastrophic explosion on the "chronic corruption" of Lebanon's political class and announced he is stepping aside at the behest of the public. The outgoing prime minister described the explosion as a "crime" and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

"I said that corruption is rooted in every part of the state," said Diab, who took office less than eight months ago following the resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. "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 deadly blast is believed to have occurred after a fire ignited a 2,750-ton stockpile of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound that is commonly used in fertilizers and explosives.

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:

The 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate sailed into the city nearly seven years ago. The ship's captain at the time called it a "powder keg."

The cargo, a chemical compound used for blasting mines and building car bombs, was seized when the ship carrying it was found unseaworthy and its owner failed to pay certain fees, according to the ship's captain and the International Transport Workers' Federation, a global trade union. It ended up in a warehouse as Lebanese officials, lawyers, judges, and a Russian shipper bickered over what to do next.

Over the next three years, attempts to get rid of the cargo became mired in the country's bureaucracy, according to correspondence between Lebanese officials. Port officials didn't heed court orders to safely store the ammonium nitrate, but instead sought permission to unload the chemicals... Other officials simply stopped responding to proposals.

The explosion was quickly followed by massive demonstrations in the streets Beirut as protesters blamed the negligence of their political representatives for the devastating blast, which prompted calls for an independent international probe.

"Our first reaction after the explosion was that we wanted to clean, to help the people that have been affected," said one protester. "We cleaned the first day, the second day, the third day. And then, that's it. We wanted to make our voices heard. What happened is not something new; it has been like this for years. This is unacceptable. It has to end."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Clyburn Asks: Who Would Oppose Means-Testing Child Tax Credit? Answer: Lots of People

"There is literally not a single thing that the means-tested approach is better at than the universal approach," said one policy expert.

Jake Johnson ·


'Time to Rebuild This Nation': Fetterman Speaks Out After Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse

"This collapse is just the latest in a long line of preventable, man-made disasters that prove what so many of us in Pennsylvania and around the country have been saying for years: Our infrastructure is failing our people."

Brett Wilkins ·


California Progressives Warn Dems Against No Vote on Single-Payer

"This shouldn't be controversial," the state progressive caucus said. "When you vote against the state party platform and bills we have endorsed we will simply vote to not endorse you."

Andrea Germanos ·


Lavrov Says 'There Will Be No War' Over Ukraine Unless US Escalates

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war," said the Russian foreign minister. "We don't want wars."

Julia Conley ·


Living Near Fracking Sites Linked to Higher Risk of Early Death: Study

Harvard researchers provide further evidence that, as one environmental advocate has said, "fracking is inherently hazardous to the health and safety of people and communities in proximity to it."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo