The Ever-Evolving World Through Her Eyes

Questions and More Questions
May 12, 2008, 6:21 pm
Filed under: lebanon, war | Tags: , , , , ,

So it’s another Monday, like so many Mondays that have come before, except that my classes were cancelled again. In normal circumstances such a situation would be a gift, but I miss my friends Dua and Hannan, Mariam and Muhanad. Most of my friends have evacuated to their neighboring nationalities, while most of the local schools are closing down for the week. It does not bode well in this seemingly serene calmness.

I was able to run errands for the first time today, and yesterday for a couple of hours I spent time with my friend Mariam- she lives in my community, close to AUB, and was there when everything happened. You could still see militiamen roaming the streets last night, although, the army has mostly taken over at this point.

The interesting part about all of this to me is the why. Why is this happening and is that why an excuse? From the beginning of the established Lebanese government the structure has been set according to religion, called confessionalism– A Christian Maronite President, A Sunni Muslim Prime Minister, A Shia Speaker of Parliament, etc. The seats in parliament are also divided based on religion and like all disenfranchised groups the Shia make up the majority percentage of the population around 40%, but have the least amount of seats. They live in the poorest conditions and are constantly ignored by the government.

During the War on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, where Israel had attacked Lebanon for just over a month, killing 1,200 civilians and completely demolishing Lebanon’s infrastructure. Hezbollah was the only reason, the causalities were not higher and the reason for Israel’s defeat on the ground. Most of Lebanon was grateful for them and what they did to keep Israel from completely destroying the country. After the war had ended, Hezbollah and the Shia community thought it was the best opportunity to approach the government for more parliamentary seats and have equal representation.

To be clear Hezbollah consists of only Shia Muslims but does not represent all Shia Muslims. The two are not synonymous; I want to be careful not to create a general image, in explaining such a complicated issue.

The government did not concede, and so, many Shia took to the streets and camped out in front of Parliament for almost 18months. It continues on, this sort of ignoring and this pushing aside, until the resolution to halt Hezbollah’s telecommunications came in. At which point, they joined with the General Labor’s Union in their general strike for higher wages. And thus took over Beirut.

For me it is important to understand the why in order to fix the problem. The divisions between all the religious groups are so deep and wide here. For me, I don’t identify with any group that is fighting now. The government is still ignoring Hezbollah and their demands, which this in and of itself will only lead to more fighting. At the same time, I disagree with Hezbollah’s tactics in forcing themselves on all of Beirut, therefore intensifying the divides that already exist. The death toll has already reached 81 and the injured is now 250 since the fighting on Wednesday began. And Goddess forbid something does ensue with Israel, as a result of the Hezbollah takeover, will the rest of the country be as gracious as they were two years ago. Does Hezbollah care?

By purposefully ignoring Hezbollah and knowing they would intensify their tactics (as the whole country was predicting), was the government intentional on seeming to the international community as the peaceful ones? And, therefore, making Hezbollah also seem, to the international community, as violent terrorists? Was this an intention or just a by-product of the situation?

There seem to be more and more questions piling up on my end, with less certainty, only my heart that guides me in this. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the situation, wishing to just set things right and move everything around to serve everyone. But then how does one really know what’s best for everyone, that arrogance I leave to the politicians, as they fight and ignore one another for the sake of the country.

To find out more information about this situation a great source is Robert Fisk, life-long journalist in Lebanon


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