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Sunday June 23, 2024

Why is US embassy in Beirut built on land over twice as large as White House?

The complex, built in the Beirut suburb of Awkar, is spread over a sprawling 43 acres or more than 21 soccer fields

By Web Desk
May 14, 2023
An aerial view of the new US embassy complex in Beirut under construction. — US embassy in Beirut via Twitter
An aerial view of the new US embassy complex in Beirut under construction. — US embassy in Beirut via Twitter

A fortress-like new US embassy in Lebanon is raising serious questions about what purpose the world’s largest military power wants such a massive diplomatic structure to serve in one of the poorest countries of the Arab world, CNN reported.

The new US embassy compound located some 13 kilometres (about 8 miles) from the centre of Beirut and constructed on the site of the current embassy, looks more like a garrison town.

The complex built in the Beirut suburb of Awkar is spread over 43 acres —nearly 2.5 times the size of the land the White House and all its buildings are constructed.

According to CNN, many Lebanese citizens took to Twitter to raise questions on the US motive behind building such a huge embassy in the capital of the historically war-torn country located in the Levant region of the Middle East.

Even the state of Connecticut is bigger than Lebanon which is home to only six million people. Few American tourists go to the country as the State Department has placed it on the third highest travel advisory level, but it does have a sizeable population of Lebanese American residents.

“Did the US move to Lebanon??” tweeted Sandy, a social media activist.

“Maybe you’ll have enough room to work on all those pending visa applications,” tweeted Abed A Ayoub, national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, responding to the grandiosity of the new complex.

Computer-generated images released by the embassy show an ultra-modern compound, hosting multi-story buildings with high glass windows, recreational areas, and a swimming pool surrounded by greenery and views of the Lebanese capital.

According to the project’s website, the compound has a chancery, representational and staff housing, facilities for the community and associated support facilities.

From the pandemic to the 2020 Beirut blast, Lebanon has been assailed by a number of crises that have left its economy in ruins. Many Lebanese are unable to afford basic commodities, including food, medicine and electricity.

“Let them eat concrete,” another user tweeted.

The US government had announced the embassy complex in 2015 to be built at a cost $1 billion.

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), which oversaw the construction of many US embassies around the world, is managing this project.

CNN said the US embassy in Lebanon did not respond to their request for comment.

The US has a chequered history of relations with Lebanon because of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful group in the country, but overall both nations have enjoyed amicable diplomatic and trade ties.

The US last month marked the 40th anniversary of the 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut. At least 63 people were killed including 52 Lebanese and embassy employees as a result of the deadly attack.

It must be mentioned here that, 299 people lost their lives in a bomb blast that ripped through the barracks in Beirut where American and French peacekeepers were staying.