BREAKING: In surprise visit to Beirut, French President Macron seems to call for regime change in Lebanon. Is that really what he meant? Here’s the latest.


With at least 157 people dead and 5,000 people wounded, immense public anger is rising in the Lebanese capital.

As the smoke clears from two horrific explosions that leveled the Port of Beirut, some of that anger is directed at the Lebanese government, which some say is corrupt and possibly criminally negligent for allowing such a huge amount of dangerous, explosive materials to be stored in such an unsafe manner at the port.

Some of that anger is directed at Hezbollah — the “Party of God” — the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that increasingly controls the political and economic life of the country and is widely blamed for the economic suffering of the country.

Such anger boiled over Thursday as crowds welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in Beirut on Thursday to see the devastation first-hand and to offer both his condolences and his country’s financial assistance to recover and rebuild.

“Free us from Hezbollah!” some of the crowd demanded of Macron.

Others shouted, “Revolution!”, while still others told the French leader that “the people want to bring down the regime!”

“Macron visited shell-shocked Beirut Thursday, pledging support and urging change after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital in a disaster that has sparked grief and fury,” reported French TV news channel 24.

“I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact,” Macron promised. “I am here today to propose a new political pact to them.”

Macron, whose country once ruled Lebanon and Syria from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I to the establishment of two independent nation states after World War II, insisted that did not endorse the current “regime” governing Lebanon.

What’s more, he vowed that the financial aid that France is offering would not fall into the “hands of corruption.”

“I see the emotion on your face, the sadness, the pain — this is why I’m here,” the French president said, according to a Reuters dispatch, adding that “what is…needed here is political change. This explosion should be the start of a new era.”

Is Macron really calling for regime change?

It certainly sounded that way. Indeed, that’s the way many heard it.

But does he really intend to pry Hezbollah’s grip — and, by extension, Iran’s grip — from Lebanon’s throat?

Lebanon was once described as the “Switzerland of the Middle East.” Today, tragically, it is an economic basket case and effectively an Iranian vassal state.

Could Macron possibly commit the political will, much less the economic and military muscle, that would be necessary to truly liberate the people of Lebanon from the forces Iranian radicalism and home-grown corruption and mismanagement?

That would be something — but count me skeptical.

Macron said he plans to return to Lebanon on September 1st.

For the moment, “the Lebanese Army stepped in Wednesday to assume security operations in the capital amid a two-week state of emergency,” reported Fox News. “Losses from the blast are estimated to be between $10 billion to $15 billion, Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud told Saudi-owned TV station Al-Hadath, adding that nearly 300,000 people are homeless.”

Those estimates are double or triple what Lebanese officials were saying just 24 hours earlier.

[Photo credit: Reuters / Al Arabiya]



BREAKING: Lebanon declares “state of emergency.” Explosions leave 300,000 homeless. Damages could total $5 billion. Pope Francis and Evangelical leaders call for urgent prayer for people of Beirut.


Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his cabinet on Wednesday declared a “state of emergency,” as the magnitude of the devastation in Beirut became more clear by the hour.

“The governor of Lebanon’s Beirut, Marwan Abboud, said on Wednesday that the value of damages caused by the explosion which shook the capital ranges between $3 billion and $5 billion,” reported Al-Arabiya, citing the Lebanese National News Agency.

“I think there are between 250,000 and 300,000 people who are now without homes,” Abboud said.

Hundreds of Beirut residents are still missing at this hour.

“Pope Francis has called on people to pray for Lebanon in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly explosion,” reported CNN. 

  • “Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction,” the Pope said in his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, from the library of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.
  • “Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”


Other Catholic leaders called for prayers, as well.

  • “We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” said Father Miled el-Skayyem, a Lebanese priest, according to a report by the Catholic News Agency. 

Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Baptist Society, sent out an email describing his city laying in “apocalyptic ruin” and providing a list of ways that Evangelicals around the world can be praying for the people of Beirut at this hour:

“The massive blast that took place at the port of Beirut late in the afternoon today left an important part of the city laying in apocalyptic ruin — the rumble of the explosion was felt all the way to Cyprus,” Costa wrote.

“Beirut looks like a war zone as the devastating shockwave shattered windows and vitrines sending debris and glass flying in all directions,” he added. “This calamity could not have come at a worse time for a country on the brink of financial collapse and social implosion while the number of coronavirus cases have surged in recent days. The reasons behind the explosion are still unknown.”

Among his prayer requests:

  • Please pray for those who have lost their homes and loved ones so that they may find comfort and healing.
  • Please pray for the doctors, nurses and paramedics who are caring for the injured.
  • Please pray for the rescue teams that are trying to find missing family members and neighbors.
  • Please pray for people who are in places of responsibility as they manage the catastrophic human and economic consequences.
  • Please pray for the Church as it seeks to comfort and serve the distressed and brokenhearted.
  • Please pray for the People of God as they seek the Lord and humbly cry out to Him for mercy.
  • Pray for LSESD/MEBO family of ministries and in specific for the Beirut Baptist School and the Gateway Bookshop, which suffered important material damage and for the staff who have been injured by the glass debris.



[Photo credits: Hurriyet Daily News]

Horror In Beirut: At least 100 dead, more than 4,000 wounded in dual explosions. Beirut officials compare devastation to nuclear blasts. Here’s the latest.


UPDATE at 9:00am Wednesday local time: As the sun rises over the devastated city of Beirut, the Red Cross is reporting that at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded in yesterday’s dual explosions, reports The Daily Star of Lebanon.

The Beirut Port is gone — completely destroyed by the blasts — including grain silos critical for the nation’s food production.

“The silos…contain essential grain reserves including wheat, corn, and barley,” reports Al-Arabiya. “Lebanon, which imports up to 80 percent of its food needs, is particularly reliant on imported soft wheat to make Arabic flatbread, a national staple.”

“What happened is like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions. Nothing remains,” Beirut governor Marwan Abboud told Arab News after inspecting the scene of the explosion.


Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed his nation Tuesday night during a news conference, vowing a full investigation and accountability for any people who were responsible. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

  • “This is a great national disaster. The images and videos we see truly express this tragedy and translate the scope of the calamity that has affected Lebanon.
  • “Beirut is grieving. All of Lebanon is disaster-torn. Lebanon is going through a quite ordeal that could only be faced with national unity and solidarity among all Lebanese from all backgrounds and regions. We are going through a disaster that could only be overcome with determination and tenacity to face this serious challenge and its destructive consequences.
  • “What happened today will not fly by without accountability. All those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price. This is a promise I make to martyrs and injured. This is a national commitment….”

“Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local TV station that it appeared the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014,” reported the Associated Press.

“Ammonium nitrate, which Lebanese authorities have said was the cause of the Beirut blast, is an odorless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertilizer that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades,” reported Gulf News.


“These include notably at a Texas fertilizer plant in 2013 that killed 15 and was ruled deliberate, and another at a chemical plant in Toulouse, France in 2001 that killed 31 people but was accidental,” Gulf News added. “When combined with fuel oils, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used by the construction industry, but also by insurgent groups like the Taliban for improvised explosives. It was also a component in the bomb behind the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.”

Sympathy and support is pouring in from around the world.

The Israeli government has denied any connection to the blast, and is offering assistance to the people and government of Lebanon.

  • “Israel approached Lebanon through international defense and diplomatic channels to offer the Lebanese government medical humanitarian aid,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a joint statement.
  • “President Reuven Rivlin, in tweets in English, Arabic and Hebrew, added: ‘We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time,'” reported the Times of Israel.

Please continue praying for the survivors of the blasts, and for all the people of Beirut as the go through this horrific ordeal. 

[Photo credit: 1) cover of a French-language newspaper; 2) amateur video by Abir Ghattas, posted on Twitter, used by Popular Mechanics; 3) Agence France Presse graphic, published by Arab News]






BREAKING: Two massive explosions rock Beirut. “Mushroom cloud.” Hundreds wounded. Death toll rising. Cause unknown. Israel denies involvement.


A stunning series of explosions rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday afternoon.

Hundreds are reportedly wounded. The death toll is rising.

Video taken from a nearby rooftop — and Tweeted out by Arab News — shows one building on fire after the first explosion. But eleven seconds into the video, a second, tremendous explosion absolutely obliterates a neighboring building and sends a mushroom cloud into high into the otherwise cloudless blue skies over Beirut.

Here is what we know at this hour:

To watch videos from Arab News, please click here.

  • “Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, many bloodied, after the massive blasts in the port area, the cause of which was not immediately known,” reports Agence France Presse. “The explosions ’caused dozens of injuries,’ a security source said.”
  • The Associated Press reports that “a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital,” adding that “witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris. An Associated Press photographer near the port saw people lying injured on the ground, and hospitals called for blood donations, but exact casualties were not immediately known. Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.”


It is not yet clear exactly what caused the two explosions. 

They come, however, at a time of heightened tension on the Israel-Lebanon border, and as the Lebanese Foreign Minister has just resigned and warned that Lebanon’s economy is “sinking.”

Please pray for the survivors, and the first responders.