In an Arab country.. a new US embassy compound is causing controversy with its size

A report prepared by Nadine Ibrahim, and a copy of the story appeared in the Middle East newsletter from CNN to subscribe to the newsletter (Press here)

(CNN) — This massive new US embassy complex is generating controversy for its sheer size and luxury in a country where nearly 80% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The new US Embassy compound in Lebanon is located 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) from the center of Beirut, and it looks like a city of its own. The White House and more than 21 football fields sit on it.

Many Lebanese on Twitter wondered why the United States needed such a large embassy in their capital. Lebanon is smaller than Connecticut and has a population of just six million. Few American tourists go to the country, as the State Department put it third on its travel advice list. But it does have a large Lebanese American population.

“Has the United States moved to Lebanon?” Social media activist Sandy tweeted, while Abd Ayoub, executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in response to the grandeur of the new complex, “Maybe you’ll have enough space to work on all your pending visa applications.”

Computer-generated images released by the embassy show an ultra-modern complex of multi-storey buildings with tall glass windows, recreational areas and a swimming pool. Surrounded by greenery and views of the Lebanese capital, the complex includes housing, community facilities and associated support facilities, according to the project website.

From the Corona epidemic to the Beirut bombing in 2020, Lebanon was subjected to a number of crises that left its economy in ruins, many Lebanese unable to buy basic commodities, including food, medicine and electricity.

“Let them eat concrete,” another user wrote on Twitter.

Plans for the embassy complex were announced in 2015 and are reported to cost $1 billion. Its construction is being overseen by the Office of Overseas Building Operations (OBO), which has overseen the construction of a number of other US embassies around the world.

The US Embassy in Lebanon did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The United States has had a troubled history with Lebanon, home to the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is the most powerful group in the country but nonetheless enjoys friendly relations with the United States.

Last month marked 40 years since the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including 52 Lebanese and embassy employees, and in October of that year, a bomb exploded in the barracks housing American and French peacekeepers in Beirut, killing killed 299 people.

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2023-05-13 05:42:48

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