On March 17, 2021 Stimson Europe and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) hosted their tenth Brussels MENA Briefing titled “Lebanon at Crossroads: Looming State Collapse and Prospects for External Engagement”, on the political, economic, and social crisis in Lebanon. This was the first Briefing hosted by the new Middle East and North Africa Program launched by the Stimson Center in March 2021, and located at Stimson’s new permanent presence in Brussels, Belgium. The Brussels MENA Briefings are a continuation of a series of discussion previously conducted by the EastWest Institute (EWI).
The Briefing started with an in-depth analysis of the current situation in Lebanon, with one speaker emphasizing the lack of progress in the investigation into the Beirut blast of August 4, 2020. This unprecedented, massive explosion led to at least 200 deaths and was caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse without proper safety measures. The speaker highlighted that the judge leading the investigation was dropped from the case in February 2021, after he had charged the caretaker prime-minister and three former ministers with negligence. The opaque investigation is seen as symptomatic of the country’s current predicament, namely lack of accountability of the ruling elite.