FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Will Lebanon Survive in 2014?

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Beirut

Another week, another terrorist bombing.  It’s beginning to look a lot like that here in Lebanon these days. Another apparent suicide bomber detonated a car rigged with explosives in the southern suburbs yesterday killing at least five people and injuring at least 77. The health ministry released a statement just a short while ago reporting that  an additional 67 people were treated in hospitals for wounds and released, while 10 people remained hospitalized with more severe injuries.

Many who thought their team and its local and international supporters were invincible appear to be rethinking recent events. More are realizing that their enemies are also skilled and fearless fighters and not at all afraid to die for their religion, or related causes, and may well be growing in number as they view the results of their handiwork.

Yesterday’s explosion is the fourth bombing since last July in Beirut’s southern suburbs known as Dahiyeh. It targeted al-Arid Street two blocks almost directly behind the office of the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (SSSP) near the old Al Manar building which re-located after being repeatedly bombed by US funded Israel forces in 2006. Some preliminary reports indicate that a 20 kilogram bomb was used in the explosion hidden and then detonated inside an olive green Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The latest information this morning comes from Hezbollah security guys who guard our building (and my motorcycle—bless them for both favors!) and who have been visibly present throughout Dahiyeh for the past six months, ever since the spate of neighborhood bombings began.  People in South Beirut tend to believe that al-Qaeda-linked groups are responsible for this latest in a series of attacks and some point to the recent reports from UPI and other media that Al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have ordered their fighters specifically into Lebanon for the sole purpose of fighting and destroying Hezbollah.

There are reports, whose accuracy is difficult to verify that scores of jihadists are arriving here from Syria, Iraq and other countries. The last half of 2013 has seen a dramatic rise in the number of young male fighters from North Africa and the Levant. Many are joining Al Nusra and ISIS rather than choosing more “moderate” groups. The six-week training camps are attracting a majority of the wannabe jihadists who come for a number of religious and non-religious reasons and who want to join the better established and most widely admired ‘winning teams.’ Additionally, the Golani and Baghdadi groups reportedly offer the best food, the most “inspiring” jihadist ideology, newer and more powerful weapons,  heavy winter clothing including gloves,  and salaries of up to $ 450-500 per month depending on potential exhibited during the 45 days training camp with credit given to applicants with vetted previous experience.

Reports suggest that the current “slow war” will intensely in Lebanon following the assassination of a rumored candidate for Lebanese Prime Minister, when and if a new government is formed around here, the former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah. That murder came at a very critical time in Lebanon. It is difficult to identify a period during the past three decades during which divisions and tensions among the Lebanese have previously reached such dangerous levels.

Verbal attacks and thinly veiled threats from the pro-Western alliance known as March 14against the National Lebanese Resistance lead by Hezbollah (March 8) have intensified. Common now are open calls to confront Hezbollah “by all means in order to save Lebanon.” The anti-Assad groups blame the pro-Assad March 8coalition for last month’s assassination of  Mohammad Chatah which occurred near the spot in central Beirut where Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 25 others were killed by a massive car bomb on Valentine’s Day 2005. The Hague based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is due to start trying that case last this month.

People in the street, from the depressed expressions on the faces of even apparently well to do women these days trudging along fashionable Hamra street–to the young from across the confessions who seek to depart Lebanon and the sooner the better, often cite a laundry list or reasons they think Lebanon never has been a real country, is not and likely never will be.

Indeed, to some foreigners living in Lebanon, it often seems that locals habitually blame outsiders for most, if not all, of their current problems. The Sykes-Picot secret process of creating nations, the French, the USA, Saudi Arabia, “the West”, Iran, Syria, the Gulf countries are among others being identified as the main culprits.

Others are quite sure, for a long list of commonly elaborated reasons that it’s the Lebanese themselves who created the current mess of this claimed ‘non-country.’ The reasons are many but a short list would include that there is no functioning government, no Armed Forces worthy of the name, corrupt politicians who regularly sell out their constituents who for some unfathomable reason keep voting them back into power.

In addition, the poisonous sects and confessions that even give rising ethno-nationalism a bad name, defective character that is exhibited daily among the general population from cheating others at the slightest opportunity, insane, selfish, aggressive driving creating the highest auto accident rates per capital in the world, and considering it their birth-right to disparage others religions while threatening death to those who dares to criticize theirs. This, just for starters.

The gifted writer Michael Young of Beirut’s Daily Star wrote recently that “Everywhere, it seems, the Lebanese are swindled, and feel it. Restaurants charge European-standard prices, but the vast majority serves mediocre food. Many contractors will demand the highest fees for their work, but take no pride in it.

They will bring in cheap laborers to save money, so that one must pay nearly double to repair the myriad errors.”  Young continues “Every day, it seems, Lebanon has become a vast con game, an unprincipled country where violence is given free rein, where charlatanism is rewarded, where incompetence is generalized and where legalized theft is widespread – a country which it is easy to leave and from which the young understandably seek escape.”

On a related subject some of these observers’ friends in Syria articulate a solution to the problem that Lebanon has become and that they claim “would be best for all concerned!”  They sometimes insist that whatever the outcome of the “current situation” at a minimum and for sure stolen Syrian territory, now referred to generally but not exclusively as “Lebanon” that was unnaturally and wrongfully ripped away and patched into a country by the French and British colonists must be returned to “Mother Syria”.

It is true than whenever this observer crosses over into Syria from Lebanon and arrives in Damascus and engages with people, that despite the current tragic situation there, one feels that Syria in a “real country” with laws and standards and well, civilization.  Not only have I never felt that to be the case when in Lebanon I do not recall discussing the subject with any foreigner who does feel that Lebanon is a ‘real country’ or even with many locals in Lebanon who do.

Well, it not this observers business and not only does my own country appear to have more problems than few in this whole region would want to face, the Lebanese do have some good qualities—one imagines.

And for sure this damaged goods observer has no will at all to challenge the Almighty’s creation wisdom these days as there is way too much now on my soggy paper plate without entering the new year with her or him scowling at me too.

For New Years a cherished Lebanese friend, a sweet complainant of what her life has become, sent me this thoughtful message and insight about her personal dilemma and what went wrong with her life:

“When God created Lebanon he said to the angels nearby that it will be a land of terrific natural beauty with tall majestic mountains full of snow, beautifully sparkling rivers cutting through forests filled with many types of trees and high cliffs over-looking sandy beaches and waters with an abundance of sea life. I shall make the land rich and make the people prosper!”

One angel intervened and said, “Lord, isn’t that unfair to the rest of the world?”

“Actually no” God replied, “Just wait and see the neighbors I shall give them.”

Hopefully God will review and amend his work so Lebanon survives 2014.  It is not apparent that the Lebanese are capable of doing so.

Franklin Lamb is a former Democratic National Committee Member representing Oregon.  He volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.org)

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail