Beirut was a besieged city on Thursday morning. Security forces had sealed off the city center to prevent protesters from advancing to a convention center where parliament met for the first time since the August 4 blast. The death toll is currently at 172, while between 30 and 40 people are still missing. About 70,000 buildings have been destroyed, more than 300,000 residents have to seek temporary shelter. Remarkably, since the explosion, there has been a significant increase in the number of corona infections and the death toll from the virus is rising rapidly. The latter is partly due to the heavy havoc in the various hospitals that are overcrowded. More than 6,000 people were injured in the blast. A first installment of EUR 300 million in foreign aid should alleviate the worst of the suffering. Most important is the rapid reconstruction of Beirut’s port, the most important in the country. France, Turkey, Qatar and China have offered to take on the job. As if the situation in the country was not bad enough, aid is very sensitive internationally. The country is counting on American aid. An American delegation arrived for talks on Thursday. If the reconstruction of the port is outsourced to China, they fear that the US will step on its toes. Qatar and Turkey, on the other hand, are difficult for the Gulf states because of their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. So there is only one “safe” candidate left, France.