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08/11/2020

Protests in Beirut, elections in Belarus, arrest of Jimmy Lai, US VS Canada

Protests in Beirut, elections in Belarus, arrest of Jimmy Lai, US VS Canada

Protests in Beirut have follow the tragic explosion

After two explosions killed more than 150 people and injured thousands on the evening of August 4 in Beirut, protests erupted in the Lebanese capital, including with arson and violent confrontations with the police.

During the protests, demonstrators attacked the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the headquarters of the Lebanese Banking Association.

Lebanon is under American sanctions because of the links between the government and Hezbollah, which is part of a coalition that supports the current government. Since 2019, the country has been shaken by protests supported from abroad. Among the main domestic pro-Western and pro-Israeli political actors is the Cataib Party.

Now the West is trying to make Hezbollah the main target of protests, as the party stands opposed to agreements with the IMF and Western structures.

Lebanon is putting itself into a helpless position where all that remains is to accept foreign aid and lose out geopolitically. Only international institutions such as the IMF and the Persian Gulf countries – the UAE and Saudi Arabia – can become serious financial donors. In support of this, the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday it was ready to redouble its efforts to help Lebanon in the aftermath of the devastating blast, but said all the country’s institutions should demonstrate a willingness to reform.

It is also important that the first foreign leader to arrive at the scene of the tragedy was French President Emmanuelle Macron. Instead of expressing condolences to the victims and offering the Lebanese leadership help in a difficult situation, Macron posed in front of cameras and promised the Lebanese people a change of leadership.

Will Macron use the tragedy in Beirut to restore French rule over Lebanon?

In this way, Paris is trying to regain its colonialist role in the region.

At the Sunday donors’ conference, nearly €253 million ($298 million) in pledges were raised for immediate humanitarian assistance after the bombing – but only in exchange for reforms, Macron made clear.

Thus, the fight against corruption and the tragedy itself have become just a pretext for French intervention in the internal affairs of the country.

As we have written before, such steps could lead to Lebanon’s total dependence on the United States, the world’s financial centers and the Gulf countries.

Who stands to benefit from the Beirut Explosion?

Whatever the cause of the explosion in Beirut, it will objectively benefit the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They will strengthen their position and put pressure on Lebanon through their networks of influence by stoking protests and issuing ultimatums – all to stop Hezbollah’s activities and to destroy the key link of the Shiite crescent that ensures Iran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea through Syria and Iraq.

Elections in Belarus

The presidential elections were held in Belarus. The incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, won, having collected more than 80% of votes, according to preliminary data of the CEC. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya won just over 9%. The turnout was 84.23%.

The situation in Minsk, however, was heated and led to riots in the center and arrests of protesters, as well as disconnection of Internet points. In Minsk, there was a rally of those who disagreed with the voting results.

According to the Belarusian media, protests were also held in Mahiliou, Vitsyebsk, Brest and Hrodna.

The week before the elections was quite eventful, with one scandal following another: Lukashenko’s verbal altercation with the “women’s triumvirate” (three oppositionists, including Tikhanovskaya), the detention of Russian citizens (according to the Belarusian authorities, “Wagner mercenaries”), followed by the diplomatic cooling of relations between Moscow and Minsk, the arrest of various Russian journalists (from pro-Kremlin to opposition), as well as the activation of Western organizations and politicians.

This is all to the benefit of the United States and European countries, who are constantly trying to integrate Belarus into the Western bloc. For example, in a recent statement from the US Embassy in Belarus, noting common “values” between Minsk and the West, recalls the latest attempts to lure Belarus into its orbit: the signing of agreements on visa facilitation with the EU, the doubling of financial support, the resumption of relations with the US at the level of ambassadors, the visit of Secretary of State to Minsk, the first supplies of American oil, the expansion of political dialogue with the EU and its member states on a bilateral basis (visits at the level of the president or prime minister to member countries of the European Union).

If Lukashenko continues to break off relations with Russia, pro-Western actors in the country will use this to remove the geopolitical buffer between Europe and Russia. It is possible that the latest scandals with Russia, initiated by Lukashenko, are a kind of bargaining with Moscow under the threat of an alternative – the rapprochement of Minsk with the West.

The only problem with Belarus is that in case of rapprochement with the West, the country will only suffer economic losses and will lose both protection and minimal sovereignty.

Arrest of a pro-American tycoon in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the new security law came into practice. Jimmy Lai, 71, one of Hong Kong’s most famous pro-Western activists, was arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces.

He has already been arrested twice this year on charges of unlawful gatherings, along with other leading activists, in connection with anti-government protests last year.

According to the Hong Kong police, at least seven suspects between the ages of 39 and 72 have been arrested.

Hong Kong security law: Chinese “dictatorship”?

Lai, a millionaire publishing magnate, was a key critic of Beijing, being pro-Western activist.

The magnate was a frequent guest in Washington, where he met with senior officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to gain support for democracy in Hong Kong, which prompted Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

He openly called on foreign countries to intervene in Hong Kong.

“The so-called foreign influence is our only salvation … I think if the Americans support us very strongly, the other countries will follow through. America has to take the lead,”

Trade war between the US and Canada

Canada announced a C$3.6 billion ($2.7 billion, £2.1 billion) tariff on US aluminium products the day after US President Donald Trump introduced a 10% tariff on certain Canadian aluminium products.

Last year, Canada and the US reached an agreement to abolish tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which were introduced for “national security” reasons. On Thursday Trump reintroduced them claiming the measure would help to protect American industry.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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