30 May 2007

Lebanon: More on the Crisis in the Country*

*Written for Global Voices Online

For the second week, Lebanese bloggers have posted anecdotes, reflections, updates, photos, videos, jokes, sarcasm and drawings on the issue that is taking precedence over all other topics. The issue is the ongoing violence which is taking the form of clashes in the north between the army and the militants and the terrorist explosions jumping from one location to another around the country.

So what are the bloggers saying?

In drawings
Mazen Kerbaj drew this art piece. The Arabic words inscribed in it are saying: “me and the Gemmayzeh (a street in Beirut where people hang out in pubs, etc) and the beer are waiting for the explosion…
Waiting for the explosion

About the relief efforts
A new blog was set up to post updates on the The Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign. The founders of the campaign describe their work as spontaneously formed following the tragic events in Nahr el Bared Camp. They declare that they are a grouping of unaffiliated individuals working on relief and civil action to end the violence and offer aid to those injured and displaced due to the Nahr el Bared conflict.

Upon visiting the Baddawi camp, Dr Rami Zurayk shares with us a couple of things that he learned “On War” and “On Needs”:

I just got back from the Beddawi Refugee camp near Tripoli where most of the displaced from Nahr el Bared have found shelter. It is a tiny piece of land, no more than 1 km2, which, until May 22, used to be home to 18,000 people. Now they are 30,000. You can feel it in the streets: impossible to move by car without hitting someone.

Dr Marcy Newman along with the Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign were also at the Beddawi camp in an effort to help the civilians fleeing the fighting and had this to share:

When we arrived at the camp, we saw that the aid relief in Badawi has improved in some ways, but deteriorated in other ways quite seriously. Groups seem to be better coordinated, but now the camp is flooded with journalists and NGO workers as well as a refugee population that continues to swell. Aid still is not reaching most families in houses, although this is what our group is working on in collaboration with civil society organizations in Badawi.

Golaniya posted a list of the civilian deaths and injuries inside the camps as a result of the clashes.

On the jokes
Diamond mentions some of the jokes that are spreading and also attempts analyzing the phenomenon of humor during conflicts:

After all, we teach children to deal with bogeymen and other fears by putting them into perspective with daylight and laughter - and I think that now it is equally important not to be bowled under by fear of militancy, in whatever form it may come.
On the other hand, we don’t laugh at the graves of those who have died serving their countries, their families, or other ideals. As long as the laughter is life-affirming, rather than situation-denying, I think it can be a very healthy thing.

More jokes about the militants fighting the army can also be found at Liliane’s blog.

From inside of the camps
Dr Asa’ad Abu Khalil made a phone call to a friend who was still inside the Naher al Bared camp. Excerpts from the conversation regarding the situation and analysis of the causes and expected results of the fighting were posted by Sophia.

Sietske also made a trip to the Palestinian refugee camps in North Lebanon after reporting on the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut.

And Kadmous posted a number of recent videos shot during the crisis in the North.

Against the bombs
There are also posts with arguments against the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps. Among them are Leila who said:

This bombing is not good for the future of Lebanon. If Fatah al-Islam is such a problem, aren’t there other ways to address it than by causing immense suffering among civilians, and thereby creating a whole new generation of future recruits to terrorism?

And Apokraphyte who wrote about the futility of such a measure as bombing the camps to get rid of terrorism:

I don’t care if Fatah al-Islam is evil incarnate. I don’t care if they are Hariri-funded or a front for Syrian mukhabarat or Islamaniacs from Tunis or aliens just landed from Mars. Artillery is NOT THE ANSWER. Worst of all, everyone knows this, especially the LAF. The problem of the camps (in its myriad forms) is not a mystery, not a new development. Direct military confrontation serves no purpose. In fact, if security and peace are the objectives, one can easily argue that such an assault is horribly counter-productive as it only increases the militance-misery quotient.

About the explosions
EDB and her friends thought that leaving one part of Beirut for another would keep them far from the expected terror bombs. But the explosion followed and occurred on the street that her friend passed several times during that day:

Now they have consecutively targeted both the upper crust Christian and Muslim areas in Beirut. I bet over in Achrafiye they’re relieved its not in their neighborhood again,” I remarked. “I passed by there twice today,” L. muttered as we watched a chaotic scene unfold on TV.

Jamal satirizes what he terms as the “anonymization of the perpetrators of crime”:

Part of the noise factor and the dangerous speculation battles taking place is the anonymization of the perpetrators of crime. So while Abou Hurayra, Abou Yazan, Abou Jandal, Abou Adass and Sejaan Saadeh are neck deep in accusations or dead; the people with faces who actually answer to registered triple names and might be involved in this mess remain unscathed and even run for office.

On worries of a new civil war
Maya[at]NYC starts her post by using the slogan of the anti–civil war campaigners which calls for the remembrance of the war so it can be avoided. She writes that that the civil war should be remembered because it will be repeated.

We are a country of poor people who think they can afford to indulge in great ideological beliefs. We define ourselves in our “moral” ideological ethical belonging. If there was a competition of gullible people, we would win the race. We each have chosen to believe in a different fight, in a cause “with our soul with our blood”. An emotional morass of immature followers. We are all followers. Not questioners. Of course: it’s easier.

On questions and answers
Here is Sean trying to make sense of some of the puzzles involved:

A few things don’t make sense, though. If these guys were really pro-Syrian, why would they have splintered off from the very pro-Syrian Fatah al-Intifada? And if they were really a tool of Hariri, why would they be fighting the ISF? Of course both of these questions assume that whoever financed these guys is still in control — which may not be the case at all.

And MFL answers and analyzes some of the questions and issues raised during the past weeks in this post that is titled: “Fatah el Islam and Lebanon: Between Reality and Conspiracy Theory.”

Till next week, stay well.


Anonymous said...

my friend your selection is biased. not a signle blog from the other camp. i have no problem with that but you should at least mention that this is not a "random selection".

thanks you

Anonymous said...

You are slightly biased...but not completely. You just need to span out a little to include all opinions, otherwise I (and possibly others) will not believe you don't have an agenda against the current gov't/army/whatever. Maybe you do, who knows. But you're awfully selective in which blogs you quote.

M Bashir said...


this is the SECOND round up on the same issue. check the previous one (last week).

there are links to blogs (from the other camp) with indications of regular updates to be followed on them.

other camp?! All Lebanese (bloggers included) are against TERRORISM.

I try my best to cover all blogs in the weekly roundups, but i can't cover all at any given time. roundups are series. consider this as part of the spectrum.

Anyway, thanks for the observation. and maybe next time you would leave a name so i can address. I usually don't respond to anonymous commentators.


M Bashir said...


I went through the list of blogs mentioned above, they DO NOT all belong to the "same camp" (I am not sure the authors will approve of categorizing them). Some of them don't even belong to any camp.

Anyway, thank you once more. We learn something new every day.

Bedouina said...

Moussa - thanks for these terrific links. I notice that the Lebanese bloggers I had bookmarked are all people whose comments on this situation I like. How is that for self-selection?

Just today I was driving my mother out to the suburbs 50 miles east of San Francisco to visit some LEbanese relatives from my village. The father was visiting from Lebanon; he's a retired senior official in Internal Security. He helped us get our passports long ago.

On the way there I said maybe they read my blog and they might not like my point of view. Oh, dont' worry, they don't read your blog, Mom said. They are too busy. Why would they read your blog?

So the second thing the old gentleman said to me was "I saw your blog!" But it's not clear that he meant the latest posts; I had blogged my father's funeral, with pictures, so people read that. I didn't have the nerve to ask him further.

I can thank you, among others, for linking to me and making sure that I can't say anything without my whole village knowing about it. BUt they know how my father felt about things and so they aren't surprised at me...

Mr. Internal Security, retired, believes it's all Syria's fault, while his son-in-law accepts as possible the scenario that Fateh-al-Islam was funded by Hariri Inc. and maybe David Welch at the CIA.

We are all very concerned for Lebanon.

Bedouina said...

By the way, God Bless the Lebanese and their computer obsessions/savvy. Mr. Internal Security took over my laptop when I tried to bring up some pictures; he had my viewer software figured out before I could (I don't use that viewer normally). He learned to use computers ten years ago to stay in touch with his children. This is a guy who did not go to college, and grew up herding cows. I am really impressed with how adept older people are at the computer in Lebanon. We know the young can pick up any new gadget, but this guy's facility with all the systems just impressed me.

Bedouina said...

Um, one last thing about this gentleman I visited. He is not Internal Security, he is Security Generale. Browsing the web sites of the two different agencies makes me kind of relieved. I really didn't think he was a big military guy, I really thought he was just a super-competent, pleasant upper administrator. He got us our passports in no time at all. Now that I see what they're saying about the Internal Security... well, I 'm just relieved that my contact is Security Generale instead.

Sophia said...

So it's the tribunal for which Lebanese army and civilian Palestinian died. Fatah El-Islam appears nothing more than a tool. Indeed how would you loike the opposition protesting the tribunal in this climate without being accused of fanning the flames of civil war ?

Anonymous, I was delinked from Open Lebanon in November when it became clear that I support the opposition with articles and banners from December 1st org. How about the fairness of the Lebanese blogosphere and Open lebanon ? And I wasn't the only one in this situation. Other bloggers were delinked also.

When one speaks about fairness one has to practice it first...

I think Bachir is being more than fair, or may be would you like to silence the other 'camp' ? Moreover I don't like the word 'Camp' it is very sectarian and revealing of the Lebanese state of mind. I prefer ideas but I guess the other 'camp' has none so they prefer to be labeled as a 'camp' instead.

Please Moussa, don't link to my posts in the future, let Lebanese stay in the dark about what is being said on their country, this way they can be better herded.

Poor Lebanon !


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