What happened during my one week stay in Lebanon.
June 18, 2007
The first day I arrived, a bomb exploded at Zouk where the NDU campus is situated!
5 days ago I went to Aley to see the aftermath of the last blast. A number of boutiques have already made the reparations and are operational. 3 others are still working to rebuild their destroyed source of living. On my way back to Beirut I heard about a current blast at the Raoucheh area. Later on I learned the precise location. I went there, parked my car facing the military bath and start walking to the site where the explosion took place.
The day before I was accompanied by European visitors and was having a drink on the coastal terrace of Al Rawda, only a dozen meters away from the bombing that took the life of one more deputy, his son and 7 others…
The army had established a security zone and only a bunch of reporters and photographers were able to stand on the top of the civil defense vehicle inside the perimeter, with a view of the horror scene. Others were posted higher on the hill trying to get a shoot or a hint about the victims and their identity. I always had a problem with the view on how the media professional behave at the source of the events. They all, without any exception get on site and you can meet all the actors of the media family present on location, ready to diffuse the hot spot.
In Aley in the morning, after 11 days of the hotspot, there was nobody from the media covering the effort done by the local population, working to forget and rebuild their losses. I am amazed where they find the source of energy to reconstruct what they have lost not for the first time.
On Saturday I visited for the first time the highest Holy place for the Uniates – Druze population in the world. Situated in the south east of Lebanon in the municipality of Hassbaya, just at the border with Israel. During the occupation period of 1982-2000 the local population didn’t suffer from insecurity or any economical weakness.
Since the liberation things have changed and the basic aspect for a living became more problematic. Last summer’s war eased the social pressures a bit. With the presence of the Lebanese army powered by the UN peacekeeping forces, the population of Hassbaya feels more secure regarding a better future. On my way back to Beirut, I crossed the region where, the day after, Lebanese militants fired rockets at Israel.
Nahr El-Bared and the 'Heat' in Lebanon!
June 05, 2007
Is Lebanon destined for wars or is it the other way round? Is Lebanon a lover of wars or is it that wars are in love with Lebanon? Has Lebanon lost a precious chance, or is it that the chance has lost Lebanon? Is Lebanon wounded, or is it that the Lebanese are the ones who are bleeding? Is Lebanon "rebellious" against all agreements, or is it that the Lebanese are rebellious against them? Each day, the spirit of Lebanon and its complexion change from joy to sadness and bleed, as always, that blood which is capable of penetrating gunpowder. Confrontations, fighting, narcissism and asphyxiation of the national spirit due to external causes, political and sectarian disagreements between those who call themselves Lebanese leaders - all this is the order of the day there.
Last summer, Lebanon went to a battlefield against the will of its people and its government. A war that's been chosen by Hezbollah. It was a vicious war that wreaked havoc over suburbs, the infrastructures, and had its toll on the people. Lebanon lived a "hot" summer abounding in corpses and the stench of blood shed by the Israeli military machines. Today, Lebanon witnesses "sad" days as refugees escape their homes, and the scared inhabitants look for safer places, and more remote ones, away from the threat of explosions and demolition.
Shortly before this summer, straying elements known as "Fatah al-Islam" were seeking to turn Lebanon and Nahr el-Bared into torrents of blood rather than water with an eye on revenge and creating a "heated" summer smelling of blood. This was in response to the warm welcome of Lebanon which opened its arms to them unconditionally and without inquiring about the where, why and what. The question remains unanswered: Did the Lebanese military really know about these straying elements? How many they are? What are their nationalities? And how did they enter Lebanon to end up in the Palestinian camps?
Surely, the Lebanese military can't lay a hold on the streets of Beirut, and arrest those who break the traffic lights, how can it then get wind of the new comers?
The elements of "Fatah al-Islam" don't mean well for Lebanon, the Lebanese, or the Palestinians, but rather death, demolition, disorder and instability in a country which is already "unstable" and that never witnessed a time of stability to begin with. Otherwise, why are those elements reluctant to surrender if they don't mean any harm to the country, or the people, so we can spare the blood and create a "clean" environment in the Palestinian camps which are filled with refugees fleeing the Israeli machine guns? And why don't the Palestinian leaders in Lebanon take concrete steps to convince the Lebanese and the others?
In a previous interview with the London daily 'al-Hayat', the military commander of the Fatah al-Islam organization, Shihab al-Qaddour, also known as Abu Hurieira, said, "We are ready to blow up every place in Beirut and/or any place else in Lebanon." He pointed out that Fatah al-Islam has sleeper cells on alert in all Palestinian refuge camps and in more than one area in Lebanon "and they are on the alert [to launch] a harsh response - they await only a sign from us." He also said that threatening the organization would only open the fire of hell against Lebanon, as they have suicide bombers ready to carry out suicide operations.
Lebanon is a country torn by wars and disagreements thanks to the political mentalities, and the Lebanese leaders. Lebanon didn't need to see his territory occupied by a terrorist organization which has been allowed entrance, deployment and breeding into a camp that doesn't put up with this new burden over the Lebanese streets, and the Palestinian refugees.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora proves that he is a "Statesman" capable of standing up to difficult challenges, and creating a policy expressive of a "popular" will through the decisions he takes at the times of crises. These decisions don't belittle the crises, which is how some members of the opposition, who don't calculate the repercussions of these continuing disorders and strikes, deal with these crises.
Lebanon is an "open" field; those who play abroad are "almost" known, as well as those who threaten it from the inside. At this "decisive" historic phase the Lebanese should defy all the attempts of those who try to manipulate the destiny of their country before it turns into a huge battlefield, and a haven for warmongers. The victim at the end of the "tragic" play is Lebanon and its people.
Source: Al-Hayat, by Jamil Ziabi