Graffiti along a concrete barrier at the destroyed port reads, “The government did this.” And protesters chanted, “Hezbollah is a terrorist” as they hanged in effigy images of Nasrallah and other leaders outside Lebanon’s Parliament building not far from the seaside blast site.
Nasrallah’s “lynching” marks “a major turning point” for Lebanese, said Habib Malik, associate professor of history at Lebanese American University. His father, Charles Malik, was a longtime Lebanese diplomat and ambassador to the United States. “Hezbollah has hijacked the government. Our currency free-fall is impoverishing everyone,” he said. “But something has snapped with the explosion.”
The United States is poised to impose sanctions on Lebanese leaders aligned with Hezbollah, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Trump administration sees an opportunity to drive a wedge between Hezbollah and its political allies as part of a message: Change course in order to receive billions in international aid to rebuild the port.
Public fury led to demonstrators a week ago demanding the government’s resignation and occupying government buildings, including Parliament. On Aug. 10 the government resigned, leaving lawmakers to rule with even weaker caretaker cabinet ministers. In its first session since the explosion, Parliament approved a state of emergency set to last until Aug. 21, allowing the Lebanese Army to impose curfews, ban assemblies, and censor publications.
That’s not stopping the protest movement, as organizers called for flash protests following the tribunal verdict Tuesday evening, even as cleanup from the blast continues.