The 2,755 tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded on August 4th at the Beirut port and wiped out most of the capital had been, according to Progressive Socialist Party president Walid Jumblatt, “imported” by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
In a tweet posted on Friday, Jumblatt said about the Syrian president: “It seems that after he plundered, destroyed and abandoned most of Syria and benefited from all kinds of smuggling of subsidized materials from Lebanon, and after Beirut’s port was destroyed as a result of the nitrates he imported for use in barrel bombs against his people, he intends to eliminate the Lebanese banking system.”
Jumblat’s tweet was mainly aimed at responding to recent remarks by Assad, who has blamed Syria’s current economic and financial crisis on Lebanon’s banks.
According to Naharnet, the Progressive Socialist Party has said in a statement that “Assad’s statement yesterday that Lebanese banks are to blame for the economic crisis in Syria requires a decisive response to this rudeness and perseverance attempting to overwhelm Lebanon with the sinking Syrian regime.”
The party added that one of the causes that negatively affected the Lebanese economic crisis and drained its public finances, “is owed to corruption channels engineered by the Syrian Ba’ath regime in Lebanon that continued to deplete Lebanon even after the withdrawal of Syrian troops.”
“Syrian depositors resorted to Lebanese banks in order to benefit from their contributions,” noted the PSP. “This would not have happened had it not been for the fact that their deposits were subject to extortion and theft if they remained in Syrian banks.”
Lebanon is struggling with a grave banking crisis, which has led to the introduction of informal capital controls to try and save a failing local currency. Depositors are unable to make foreign transfers and there is a limit on how much they can withdraw.
However, Lebanese banks had offered a lifeline to the Syrian economy, which under the Assad family rule faced decades of Western sanctions that often targeted individual businessmen and cut off Syrian banks.