“A massive new US embassy in a tiny Middle East nation is raising eyebrows”

An aerial view of the new US embassy complex in Beirut under construction.
(Credit: US embassy in Beirut via Twitter)

CNN  — A massive new US embassy complex in Lebanon is causing controversy for its sheer size and opulence in a country where nearly 80% of the population is under the poverty line. Located some 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) from the center of Beirut, the US’ new embassy compound in Lebanon looks like a city of its own. Sprawling over a 43-acre site, the complex in the Beirut suburb of Awkar is almost two-and-a-half times the size of the land the White House sits on and more than 21 soccer fields.

Many Lebanese on Twitter questioned why the US needs 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 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 published 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. The compound includes a chancery, representational and staff housing, facilities for the community and associated support facilities, according to the project’s website.


Comment: Well this is a shocker. I thought the State department would have seen the folly of the fortress they built in the Green Zone of Baghdad by this time. Apparently not. This new Beirut embassy looks like another Krak des Chevaliers. I remember when our embassy was bombed in 1983 and our embassy annex got hit the next year. I missed both those events, but I had a good view of the Marine Barracks bombing down at the airport. It was an exciting time to be in Beirut or in the Shouf Mountains.

Still, a lot of time has passed since those bombings. This raising of a castle on a hill can’t be in response to that ancient history. What do we plan on putting there? I bet the CIA will have a super-sized gaggle of spooks holed up there. Will DIA establish a mighty Operating Base Beirut? At one time it was a dream to do that in Fortress Baghdad. Maybe there will be another effort to rebuild the Lebanese Armed Forces, although last time we did that from GP medium tents surrounded by dirt-filled 55 gallon drums. All I can figure is that somebody in DC has grandiose plans for Lebanon and rest of the region.


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27 Responses to “A massive new US embassy in a tiny Middle East nation is raising eyebrows”

  1. Fourth and Long says:

    Probably a safety measure against those nice atomic bombs which aren’t really atomic bombs but blow up your city quite nicely anyway and turn out to be a warehouse of old bags of fertilizer piled high and wide which just exploded, that’s all. They have an especially attractive feature – photos of the explosion look almost identical to the images produced on photographic plates which have been exposed to the visible spectrum of electromagnetic radiation emitted by a real atomic explosion like the ones Howard Hughed used to complain about on his phone calls with a famous US President because he purchased Las Vegas and the bombs were tested right nearby.

    I guess.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      Les Deliriousables, (a made up word, Deliriousables) which is part of the title of a book by Senorita Victoria Soixante Hugo de Neuf of Lilly Valley, Lisle sur Les Seines-Thames sur Avonella ..
      The delirious ones or as Hermione La Mancha of Tortoise-Sully sur Les petite Peines of Southwestern Lesser Tortoise-Tooga used to say, “Don’t quit your…
      It doesn’t look like our correspondent will soon recover from his battle with the Translation Button Muffler of Non-binary (so be warned) Queen for a Day Lyeaana Mylessina II’s software design company. (she changed her name again).

      So we can only offer this link to a perplexing analysis of a tragic catastrophe which is alleged to have befell an unlucky Air Battle Group of the Ru Federation.
      It’s complicated. And it’s a hot one hear in the big smoke so .. good thing I plugged in my fans.

      Black Day for Russian VVS as ‘Special Air Group’ Destroyed in Ambush:

  2. Fourth and Long says:

    We called him Bray-King Noose, our valiant mule, who won the county Braying contest while breaking out of a lariat tightening around his mighty neck. He went on to a successful career as a newscaster in a city run by those da*n Yanquis. He became so popular and won so many distinguished awards in Television journalism that ever since, when an important story urgently needs to be distributed, they say in a loud voice or in large print, in his honor: Bray King Noose!
    Russian forces shot down planes that fired Storm Shadow missiles at Lugansk
    Ministry of Defense: Russian Armed Forces shot down Su-24 and MiG-29, which fired Storm Shadow missiles at Lugansk.
    MOSCOW, May 13 – RIA Novosti. Russian troops shot down two Ukrainian planes that attacked Lugansk with British cruise missiles, according to the report of the Ministry of Defense.
    “On May 12, around 18:30 Moscow time, combat aircraft of the Ukrainian air forces launched a missile strike on the Polypack polymer products enterprise and the Milam meat processing plant in Lugansk. Storm Shadow aircraft missiles delivered to the Kiev regime by the UK were used for the attack, contrary to London’s statements that these weapons will not be used on civilian targets,” the Defense Ministry said.
    They added that Russian fighters shot down the Ukrainian Su-24, which fired missiles and covered it with the MiG-29.
    According to the Ministry of Defense, a fire broke out on the territory of Lugansk enterprises that were hit, the nearest houses were damaged. Civilians, including six children, were injured.

  3. Billy Roche says:

    Back in my time, the Consul General in Frankfurt had maybe a platoon of Marines as 24 hour guards, 365. I don’t know what the embassy in Bonn had – nowadays Berlin. How many Marines are necessary to secure an embassy the size of what we are building in Beirut. This w/b an implant of military, intelligence, and diplomatic presence bigger than anything in the M.E. to date. Are we getting out of Iraq? Was there anybody in Beirut who gave us permission to build this fortress? Is there any gov’t in Lebanon for that matter. There are a couple of ex military guys on this post w/experience in security. If any would care to, please opine on how many troops, what kind of fire arms, and what provisions for exit (always got to have a way off the field right) would be necessary to secure a facility of this size. It is not an embassy. This is a small town.

    • TTG says:

      Billy Roche,

      I see this was approved back in 2015. Maybe it was between Suleiman and Aoun presidencies. Aoun was 8th Brigade commander during the 1983 battle for Souk al Gharb so I could see him supporting this.

      Security-wise, this looks more like a defensible military position rather than an embassy. I think it’s a bad look even if it is safer for the embassy personnel. I bet there will be serious anti-drone defenses stationed there. I don’t know how many Marine guards and contract guards would be there. I do note that the Quantico gates and patrols are now heavily augmented by civilian guards, not contract, but federal employees. They’re far sharper and smarter than mall rent-a-cops.

      • Billy Roche says:

        Yes indeed, the picture of the developing facility has more the look of a defensible military position (a small town) than an embassy. Your mention of anti-drone missile defense makes sense but there may be more rocketry than drones from the Syrians, Iranians, and Hesbollah. SNS’ comments on Marine strength leads me to believe that a combination of Marines, Army SPFOR, and civilian guards will be necessary. Food will have to be driven in, oh, except when it can’t. A small landing strip for fixed wing craft ought to be built in there somewhere. With a large security detail, locally housed FSOs, and necessary locals, this place will consume a lot of food and produce a lot of waste. Perhaps they intend a moat for the latter? This has the look of a circa 1100 A.D. manor set in unfriendly territory. Has it occurred to the State Dept. that if it’s necessary to build a fortress to serve as an embassy maybe, you aren’t wanted? I’ve read the Constantinople had walls 14 feet thick. How thick does your head have to be to work for the DOS?

    • SNS says:


      I was a Marine in Bonn from 89-90. When I first arrived our T/O was 15 watchstanders + 1 DetCmdr (SNCO) but it later changed to 19+2 when we opened a new post at a communications facility that was off the Embassy grounds. Posts with more than 17 watchstanders were assigned 2 SNCOs as DetCmdr and A/DetCmdr. I don’t recall the number of Marines in Frankfurt but there were less than in Bonn – maybe 11 or 12+1.
      The largest post at that time was Paris with 35+2 Marines followed by Cairo with 33+2 IIRC. I think that there were around 8 or 9 posts worldwide that rated 2 SNCOs and around 2/3 of all Embassies/Consulates with Marines had 5 watchstanders + 1 SNCO.
      Looking at the picture of the new Embassy, I would guess that those long multi-story buildings are to house apartments for the Embassy employees. The US Embassy in Moscow is set up like that, with the majority of State Dept employees living on the Embassy compound.

  4. John Minnerath says:

    A plan dreamed up by madmen. Beyond belief till the “oh yeah” moment when we remember this all comes from the gang of crazies in DC.
    The city of Beirut lies in ruin and they’re building a glaring example of US excess in a part of the world where our friends are few.

    • TTG says:

      John Minnerath,

      I agree. The money would be better spent on a far more modest and defensible embassy on that hill with some serious civic projects in the surrounding neighborhoods.

      • John Minnerath says:

        The last time I was in Beirut was shortly after the 6 Day War.
        By that time the Baader-Meinhof anarchists were doing random attacks at the airport, but the civil war had not begun and in fact I was planning on attending the American University there.
        Then the collapse began, it breaks my heart to see what has become of Beirut and the rest of Lebanon.

        • LeaNder says:

          shortly after the 6 Day War. By that time the Baader-Meinhof anarchists were doing random attacks at the airport, but the civil war had not begun and in fact I was planning on attending the American University there.

          Anarchists??? Ok, if you like.

          John, I have trouble to fit your historical memory into mine. Maybe you can help me out?

          The formation of Baader-Meinhof/R.A.F. is closely connected with the Shah’s Berlin visit and the murder of Benno Ohnesorge in the protests that accompanied it in 1967. … Shot by a policeman on June 2, 1967. (Old me tells you: Same old cadres, possibly still trained in Berlin’s pre-1945 Wilhelmstraße)

          The Six Day War ended 8 days later on June 10, 1967.

          Are you suggesting the two (Baader and Meinhof) somehow, at the same time, already led parallel lives in Fatah camps in Lebanon? They no doubt joined their fight later. Just parallel events in Germany and Lebanon shortly after the Six Day War or in 1967 seem unlikely.

          You may want to add your knowledge about Baader-Meinhof’s attacks on Beirut airport on Wikipedia. In 1967???

          • Fourth and Long says:

            JM may be mixing it up in memory with this attack on Lebanese aircraft in retaliation for an earlier attack on an El Al plane in Athens. It was a long time ago.


            Rote Army Fraktion was a rebellion against the “Auschwitz generation” – very much in charge of Germany at the time, especially in the police and security forces. I remember as a college student crossing by train from the Netherlands to West Germany in 1971, sitting with some very nice Dutch hippie kids. I think I had complained about being disturbed, not personally but in reference to the group I was chatting with, by a Dutch Customs or security person who had warned the lot of us to get rid of anything remotely illegal because the border was approaching and the German Rail politzei would be boarding. Kids panicked and ran to the john to dump their weed and hashish (the Dutch couldn’t care less about it). I don’t recall what I said but a very kind young Dutch person became concerned enough to scold me gently and say that I had no idea whatsoever what would unfold before my eyes in the next 15 minutes. He was right. I’ve seen plenty of violence between police and students from those days and the 60s riots. What the German cops did to some of those nice kids would not only have made you sick, it would have shocked you numb with disbelief because it was so sudden, warrantless, unprovoked and savagely inhuman. One had his skull fractured as he fled down the passageway. If he later died I wouldn’t be surprised at all. This was done to these kids for precisely zero reason. Zip. Trickypedia says Bayed-Here Mind-Off was active 1970 to xxx and arose out of worldwide troubles of 1968 – ranging from danny-the-red in Paris to the red guard in “red” China waving their little red books and throwing teachers and professors off bridges and rooftops. Thank you Chairman Mao. And a specific real big thanks to LBJ and Robert Macnamera. I got to know some really really nice Germans staying there for a few weeks. But they were younger people who lived on poppyseeds in bombshelters as little kids and they knew exactly what the older security types were capable of. I would have left them all to the tender ministrations of Joseph Stalin, but then I can see why a country led by people named Eisenhower and Roosevelt didn’t want to do so.
            Some radicals used the supposed association of large parts of society with Nazism as an argument against any peaceful approaches:

            They’ll kill us all. You know what kind of pigs we’re up against. This is the Auschwitz generation. You can’t argue with people who made Auschwitz. They have weapons and we haven’t. [sic?] We must arm ourselves!

            — Gudrun Ensslin speaking after the death of Benno Ohnesorg.[13]

            Gudrun. As in Gud run- Good-run. Too bad that hippie kid who might have been a doctor or a novelist or a movie star in a few years didn’t run fast enough. I think you’re right – “anarchist” doesn’t quite fit the bill, but it’s an easy mistake to make, they seem indistinguishable. Read Tacitus’ booklet on Germania. Some things don’t change. Sorry, but let me let you in on a secret in two parts: 1-Seymour Hersh is thinly disguised code for Say more harsh 2-The truth hurts.

  5. blue peacock says:

    Just another example of the pathology of vultures feasting on the carcass that is the current government spending by borrowing from future generations. Going on for decades and at an inexorable growth rate.

    The existence of every government department, program, agency and so many others in the club is to keep fighting for more budget year over year. Boondoggles are a feature not a bug.

    • Babeltuap says:

      Old school tactics. The game has changed. Set up shop and it’s going to be bombed with precision..meh. It worked for 3rd world countries but this is no longer that. As the saying goes generals are always fighting the last war. Those running Ukraine are finding this out the hard way. West better go get bodies like yesterday. Start the draft in the US and start sending waves of bodies. Anyone with Ukraine flags on their social media round them up for the frontlines. If you have that it means you. Get in the fight.

  6. Fred says:

    Given the advances in communications this should be the size or your house, most of the actual decsions required made in D.C. and ambassadorial position abolished. Something Col. Lang suggested long ago.

    I wonder which parties recieved the contracts to build this monstrosity.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      My guess? It will double as the backdrop of several upcoming netflixxx spy & action series, not to mention blockbuster movies. Dual or Multi purpose. Historical crusader nonsense (sure has that look from the pics provided above) and contemporary cia & special forces shootups). Think about it. It’s so senseless it has little other real-world explanation. I guess Langley decided to branch out from the human trafficking and drug smuggling businesses which they traditionally relied on and are taking a shot which financing via lucrative Hollywood streaming and cinema ventures. If you can see which countries of origin these approaches are most likely to have come from, then may we also inquire if you watched this?

      Russia acknowledges retreat around ..

      With this proviso: what do you notice about these two three letter combinations that is just a bit out of the ordinary – Interesting, eh? But watch carefully and listen too. A helpful hint is provided by this simple algebraic completion test, if you are able to solve it correctly within the provided time limit: English Xccent. (The puzzle is to determine correctly the value of X).

      CNN….. BBC

      Miss Myles? Yes, what is it, I am busy as you know with my Translation Button Muffler updates as you know, but go ahead, make it quick.

      Do you think the movies and TV series we plan to film will be more lucrative and effective if we feature Britsh actors and actresses in them, or should we restrict ..

  7. A. Pols says:

    Embassy? Wasn’t our older embassy in Tehran nicknamed “Nest of spies” or some such?
    What’s this one for? Surely for diplomatic representation it’s way over the top.

    • TTG says:

      A. Pols,

      All embassies are nests of spies. The only people who don’t believe that are those that work in embassies… except for the spies working in those embassies.

      • Fourth and Long says:

        Which is why they called it NetFlix instead of NestFlicks, the original name. No one listens to me. I know you don’t watch TV, TTG, and you are to be praised for your good judgement. But if you had a NetFlix subscription you would see what I mean within a week tops.

    • Mark Logan says:

      A Pols,

      The original intent of embassies was legalized spying. This is from the old days when mobilization for war was time consuming and impossible to conceal locally but all to easy to conceal externally. Standing armies were prohibitively expensive, had to mobilize to wage a decent war. Just a few legally sanctioned nosy people could keep a good eye on things.

      The mission has morphed into something like making a Disneyland presentation of US interests and pride. Hubris might be a better word but it depends one’s point of view, I suppose. At any rate it is somewhat informative to read what the architects are thinking about our currents embassy-building splurge. Lebanon is just one of the places getting grandiose embassy and embassy upgrades. It all seems rather Disney-ish to me.


  8. Kim Alphandary says:

    Billy Roche: consume a lot of food and produce a lot of waste…

    Comment: Indeed! Remember Lebanon’s trash crisis? or how about Iraq’s toxic burn pits?

    Article, CNN: A massive new US embassy complex in Lebanon is causing controversy for its sheer size and opulence in a country where nearly 80% of the population is under the poverty line.

    Comment: I cannot imagine anything more disgusting, most especially under the multi-crisis that is Lebanon. Who in their right mind would want to live outside the compound? Who would want to learn Arabic or French?

    Having lived in Saudi Arabia for some time in the 2010s, I’d come to the conclusion that the example of how life is structured there is precisely where our future lies.

    The fortified compounds/gated-communities for upper crust foreign workers. The corporations responsible for manual labor such as janitor-work or construction, they run compounds for workers, where rooms of up to 12 persons on bunks are housed. THIS IS THE FUTURE. I’ve seen it here, visiting beautiful resort areas in the USA, where workers can no longer afford to live, again corporations take up the slack, bring in people from around the world for the labor.

    Then there are things like Red Dog Mines in Alaska. Within the complex, a life full of unimaginable restrictions and unbelievable oppression!

    BUT, to do this to Lebanon is an atrocity on a grandiose scale!!!

    • Fourth and Long says:

      “We are here as God made us,” came a voice from the galleys below deck in response to our Master’s query through the opened hatchway on the main deck of the huge vessel. And after a brief pause: “And many of us are worse.”
      I made it up trying to reconstruct from memory a passage from a translation of a book by Cervantes which I read while browsing through a large bookstore on Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan thirty years ago. I didn’t purchase the book and have never been able to find it again on the internet. For some reason it made a big impression on me. It seemed to say everything, all at once, in a very few words. I said to myself – no wonder he’s considered such a great writer. Years later I read Nabokov’s books of literary criticism which he compiled from lectures he gave while a professor at Cornell. One was a book about Cervantes’ writing. He savaged it with merciless ridicule going on and on with excerpts illustrating how unrealistic everything, every scene, every character, every leaf, every rock, every bird or cloud was in chapters full of passages he ripped out of context from his works. I never liked Nabokov one bit.
      Then I read another book of his on English literature. He used “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” to demonstrate that Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the finest writers ever to live. I read the story. I learned something. Yes, Stevenson was marvelous. I still think Nabokov was at his best chasing butterflies and despised him for his praise of Senator Joe Macarthy. A spoiled brat. He lived in Germany after the revolution where the extremely antisemitic White Russian nobility did their best to infect the Germans with their perverted outlook and hatreds. I have no evidence at all that he had anything to do with that. I don’t like him anyway. I read another short story of Vladimir Nabokov’s written in Russian and translated into English by his son. It was a terrible run on mishmash, the sort of story that makes you say to yourself – why am I reading this, it’s awful? Then I came to a passage near the end of the worthless drivel of a story where the formerly vastly wealthy butterfly chasing chess problem composing celebrated author described his narrator encountering an old broken down old man who walked out of a doorway as “a pathetic old pensioner.” I thought to myself – I am an old pensioner, aren’t I? And I despised Vladimir Nabokov more than I had previously thought possible, and still would if I retained an outlook so miserable as to look down on a person beaten down by something as impersonal as old age and the effects of work. What a miserable rotten bastard.

      • Whitewall says:

        “where the extremely antisemitic White Russian nobility did their best to infect”….

        Speaking very loosely of white Russians, it seems from news reports that Belarus’ dictator went to Russia and may have eaten or drank something that didn’t agree with him. It may not amount to anything but over there one never knows. A peculiar election in Turkey now along with a sick Rus dictator. Interesting times.

      • an old pensioner says:

        F&L – Nabokov’s only claims to fame were his interest in 12-year old girls and his expatriate status. If he had lived longer he would be back in Putin’s St Petersburg chasing preteen hookers.

    • Fred says:


      All those folks working in resorts and the like in the US are not treated anything like contract labor in SA or the UAE or elsewhere in the Middle East. The influx of people crossing the Rio Bravo are proof of that.

  9. James says:

    I wish I could find some photos or videos of the US embassy in Managua that give the same impression that I got when I looked up at it. It stands with high walls on heights overlooking the city. It has an airstrip. It totally looked to me like a military base. This new embassy sounds like it was modeled after it.

    Krak des Chevaliers is in the middle of nowhere – it stands at a commanding height over important communications corridors but it doesn’t loom over a town or a city. And when I was there the Syrian government controlled it – so, yeah.

  10. Kim Alphandary says:

    Fred: the people I met working at a resort in Idaho were brought in legally. One fellow was from Jamaica, others from around the Caribbean, as the company they worked for was out of Florida.

    Mostly I was referring to the changing way of life here in the US and around the world, being broken down into compounds. In Hawaii also, tons of workers brought in “legally” be it construction, farm labor, hotels you name it. AND, some of those laborers, I have spoken with AND seen their living conditions. Hard to say if Saudi or USA is a better destination.

    ABOVE ALL: it aint right, what they’re doing to Lebanon. it aint right what they’re doing here!!! Troops to the Border, humph. Farmers cannot grow crops, farmers can no longer export to China, they’re selling out, big time, reporting from NW-USA.

    Sovereignty is a touted about slogan. In actuality it does not exist. To be clear, I wish it did.

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