Lebanon, a country in demolition

Lebanon is experiencing the worst political and economic moment since 1990. It is not only the violence, it is that there is barely two hours of electricity a day, fuel and medicine are scarce. The presence of Lebanese has been detected fleeing the routes used by Syrian refugees to get to Europe. The devaluation of the currency and the fixed exchange rate have reduced the salary of a surgeon to 300 dollars (257 euros). Many choose to make a living in the Gulf, the US and Canada. The most prepared people are leaving, as well as thousands of young people who got tired of waiting for Godot. Guns, systemic corruption and warlords remain.

Only a handful of people attended the commemoration of the second anniversary of October 18, the date of the civil uprising that demanded real political change. The pandemic and a collective disappointment have deactivated the cry of enough already. In these 30 years of conditional peace, all attempts to create spaces for coexistence beyond the division between Christian Maronites, Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, Copts and a long etcetera have failed. In times of crisis, such as now, the safety of the tribe is paramount.

The last clash between militias occurred in June 2008. There were more than 100 deaths. It was a clash between the Sunnis of Saad Hariri and the Shiites of Hezbollah, both Muslims. Last week’s is much more serious, despite the fact that there were six deaths, because it faced Christian and Shiite militias. This is the first time since the civil war (1975-1990).

To add symbolism, the clash took place on the dividing line between the Chiyah and Ain el-Rumaneh neighborhoods, the same line that split the city during the war. It was the green line, the front, so called because the absence of people caused the vegetation to grow.

Weave a net

Lebanon is not only a melting pot of cultures that stopped living together in peace, it is also a battlefield between Saudi Arabia and Iran, under the omnipresent eye of Israel. Tehran Supports Hezbollah; the other two actors, whoever is against it, be the Lebanese (Christian) Forces of Samir Geagea or the Sunnis of Hariri. It is not easy to defeat a group that has become a state within a state, armed and with the ability to weave a network of social support for its community that includes medical centers and food distribution.

It all started in a demonstration by Hezbollah and Amal (the other Shiite militia). They demanded the dismissal of the judge in charge of the investigation of the port explosion that killed more than 200 people in August 2020. This is the second in charge of the case. Although he was appointed with their support, Hezbollah does not like his line of investigation. When Christian snipers fired on protesters in Tayune, Hezbollah and Amal responded with their Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers. The shooting spread to other neighborhoods.

Hasan Nasrala, Hezbollah leader, later announced that he had 100,000 militants, something unusual since their number is secret. It was a way of showing muscle before Geagea, the only warlord who was sentenced to jail. It was because of the killings of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, not because of the Lebanese war. The bravado was a source of joke on social networks: “it seems that it is easier to know the number of militiamen than the number of inhabitants of Lebanon,” they said. The census that determines the distribution of power is from 1932. Updating it would be a the spy is clear.

Transfer of weapons

Nobody is willing to investigate in the country of impunity. It is risky to dig into what happened in the port because everyone has something to hide. The explosive charge had been immobilized for six years. It is an imprudence that affects several governments. Each group has used their facilities for the transfer of arms, and to sell them to the Syrian rebels or the Basar Assad regime.

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Lebanon is supported by money from the diaspora, which has tripled its remittances in recent months. The lucky ones who charge in foreign currency are the new rich, including Hezbollah militants who have a salary of $ 700 thanks to Iran.

The Taif agreement that ended the civil war it was actually a pact to steal together in a system of profit sharing and smuggling zones. Lebanese writer Joumana Haddad told me in Beirut in 2001, after 9/11: “I educate my children to know how to live abroad.” It is a devastating phrase. Today, 20 years later, that 2001 seems like paradise. Lebanon is a country in accelerated demolition and armed to the teeth.


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