Background: Beirut Explosion
“Reiterated Iran’s strong and steadfast solidarity with people of Lebanon in call with FM Wehbeh. Iran is sending field hospital & medicine to assist with disaster relief. Iran stands with Lebanon. “
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon. As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary. Stay strong, Lebanon. 🖤🇱🇧”~Tweets by Iranian Foreign Minister, Javed Zarif regarding #BeirutExplosion #BeirutBlast
Around 6:08pm on August 4th, Lebanon experienced a tragic explosion at its port in Beirut. The resulting blast killed at least 210 people while injuring 6,000 more, including Syrian refugees. Dozens are still missing. One of the largest non-nuclear explosions was triggered by 3,000 tons of dangerously stored explosive ammonium nitrate catching on fire. However, the cause, point of origin, official government role in negligence, are all under investigation (detailed here by @beltrew of The Independent) in conjunction with the U.N. Consequently, thousands of Lebanese took the streets and called for the dissolution of parliament and government officials to step down.
The Beirut explosion has left 300,000 people homeless as the blast damaged 70,000 buildings. Lebanon’s infrastructural damage falls into a larger government problem of corruption and mismanagement prior to COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, nine Members of Parliament resigned and Prime Minister Hassan Diab dissolved the government within a week of the tragedy. Nonetheless, remaining parliament members called for sweeping army powers to exercise aggressive measures over its citizens protesting. Al Jazeera reported:
Citing the “militarization of the state”, parliamentarian Osama Saad was the only one out of the 119-member chamber…Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri responded the army had “not taken steps that people fear, nor suppress television [channels] and despite the chaos in the media it did not intervene and left room for protest”, according to local media. Al-Jazeera
Twitter Sentiment Analysis
Since Iran’s Foreign Minister tweeted that Iran was providing medical aid to Lebanon, PITAPOLICY conducted a twitter sentiment analysis of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif in the midst of Lebanon’s tragic, non-nuclear explosion to review official leaders’ responses on social media regarding aid to Lebanon. Below are sample results of his 200 most recent tweets. Although mostly positive or neutral with respect to the Beirut Explosion in expressing humanitarian solidarity, the negative tweets reference discussion on deteriorating relations with the U.S. and hopes for reinitiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, regarding Iran’s previous nonproliferation agreement. In 2016, Donald Tr ump’s administration removed the U.S. from this peaceful measure towards nuclear containment. .
Trending in US on Twitter
These were the top 10 hashtags and themes trending in Washington, DC at that time: