Sprawling $1Bln US Beirut Embassy in ‘Small Broken Country’ Decried by Lebanese

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lebanon, us embassy, deep economic crisis, population below the poverty line, beirut new embassy campus project, computer-generated images of compound, america’s bureau of overseas buildings operations (obo).

lebanon, us embassy, deep economic crisis, population below the poverty line, beirut new embassy campus project, computer-generated images of compound, america’s bureau of overseas buildings operations (obo).

Since 2019, Lebanon has been in a deep economic crisis, with over 70% of the population below the poverty line. The US government’s Lebanon Travel Advisory in February urged reconsidering travel to the Middle Eastern country, citing civil unrest, and the Beirut embassy’s “limited capacity to provide support to US citizens.”

The complex is lavish, the size of about 21 football fields, and reportedly cost $1 billion. The US government’s new Lebanon embassy in a country where almost 80% of the six million population struggles with poverty has unleashed a Twitter storm.

The site of the Beirut New Embassy Campus project is in the suburb of Aoukar, approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Beirut’s center.

Published by the US Embassy in Beirut on its website, the computer-generated images revealed a compound spanning 93,000 square meters, studded with multi-story buildings, including a chancery office, various representational and staff housing facilities, boasting “high performing interiors,” recreational open space, and a swimming pool. The website touted “sustainable design strategies,” such as the net zero energy chancery, net zero water for irrigation, waste-water treatment facility, and rainwater reuse for toilet flushing. The green roofs and landscaping across the embassy are also a testament to the exorbitant costs the massive compound entailed.

Since construction plans were first revealed in 2015, the work has been coordinated by the US Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO).

It’s hardly surprising that in a country where people living below the poverty line cannot afford to buy food, many Lebanese have flocked to Twitter.

“Let them eat concrete,” one user wryly tweeted, in a nod to the unseemly opulence of the embassy compound.

Others wondered why so vast an embassy was needed at all, in a country that the US Department of State ranked under its Level Three Travel Advisory. 29 countries besides Lebanon are at Level 3: Reconsider Travel. When it comes to this level, the State Department states: “Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.”

Abed A. Ayoub, national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, responded sarcastically by tweeting that perhaps the embassy would now “have enough room to work on all those pending visa applications.”

“Did the US move to Lebanon??” tweeted one social media activist.

Another response on Twitter wondered when to expect the “color revolution,” in a nod to Washington’s overwhelming track record of military interventions as well as CIA- and State Department-backed coup and color revolution plots.

Other Lebanese users raged against the “soft power” approach by the US.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been in a deep economic crisis, with the population experiencing shortages of fuel, medicines, and other essentials. The national currency has plummeted and lost more than 90% of its value.

Lebanese army vehicles patrol a street in Beirut, Lebanon - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.01.2023

US to Allocate $60Mln to Support Lebanese Army: Source





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