Not having a government is not noticed in Lebanon... some joke about it, and they are correct to joke about it; sadly, I notice that having a government eases down the tension between the bougeoisie of Lebanon.
Commenting briefly on the elections before proceeding to the incidents: Was anyone surprised of the results? Everyone claimed they are won, the 14th of March gathered the highest number of seats, and the Opposition gathered the highest number of votes; last but not least, Junblatt opened a minimarket for himself and became the actual veto vote on the government. Meanwhile, it was impressive that not much riots broke up on election days, nevertheless, while waiting for the government to form, we open the TV over here, we see bulletins telling us a grenade was thrown by a "mysterious" evil hand, and everyone denounces it. Tripoli became the source of clashes again, whereby "mysterious rpj" missiles fly, and then "mysterious" gunners reply back. Now wait, isn't that everyday news, I mean why I got bored from blogging on Lebanon? It is the same news, and everyone expects the results. Finally, a person died, stabbed brutally three times, who was supposed to hold a riot between two young groups. Hence, he became the latest in the line of martyrs for the "Lebanese cause", whatever the cause these days it is.
Are we surprised? Hell no, are we sad? Hell yes, I mean doesn't it bother you to hear a riot then you have to call your direct relatives first to check on them, and then call your friends who live there to double check, and finally call friends who actually might be in the region? Will we ever be used to that? Definietly not!
The reason for all of this is simple. All parties still preserve their militia weaponry. Access to arms is still cheap, and none of the political leaders are doing anything to stop it. This of course excludes the arms of Hezbollah which lost some credibility after last year's events of shoot-outs, at least in my own perspective, and also the Palestinian Refugee camps were at least three major factions have large stock of arms: Fatah, Osbat el Ansar, and PFLP-General Command (Gibreel's faction). In all of this chaos, we also had two coalitions going head to head in a militarily sense last year, one group overwhelmed the other, and the winner in these street to street shootouts had disarmed the loser and gave the light and middle ranged weapons to the Lebanese Army. The Lebanese army in such situations, where political parties clearly go and shoot at each other (ie the downfall of the government into militias) can do nothing but sit and watch. Last time the Lebanese army was ordered to bomb an armed political party, it was Hezbollah back in 1989. The result was Nabih Berri (then fresh of clashes with Hezbollah) told the Shiites to leave the army; guess what, they did! The army lost 60% of its units, and the army was threatened then (but yet again) to crumble down. The army these days are called to detect Israeli hidden cells (and may others be captured for the security of the citizens) but to be a riot intercepter: shoot out takes place, army comes, and case closed. Some are captured, but then we lack the follow-up on what happened. Hence, the army is really crippled to disarm anyone, probably not even We'am Wahhab's militants as well.
The reason these ugly incidents take place, like the Cola "mysterious" grenade (and whose echo rang in my ear the other day), is simple! The top leaders are soothing things down, but we see their second in command escalating (well except for Aoun and Jaajaa both competing to prove who is the real Lebanese Christian while Sami Gemayel and Suleiman Franjieh are just trying put their own political space in the mainstream. Walid Junblatt returned to be the pendulum of agreeing one day with this faction or that one, or even both at the same time. Bottom line is, each political party is driving a hard bargain on the government level, mainly Mr. Aoun wants his beloved adorable nephew, Jubran Bathil, to be a minister of interior, then a minister of something else (el-mohem: a minister), and Harriri. Harriri and everyone else would tell us on TV, "we are all happy about the atmosphere", but then their MPs and figureheads lash out on each other. This double tongue doesn't work out at all. Already people are overcharged, and the party militants won't hesitate to blow off some steam. The reason they would blow steam is for the fact simply they are fully convinced the leaders are representing their own sectarian interests (I would exclude the SSNP and the Democratic Left for two reasons):
1) The SSNP had been gaining a lot of grounds politically in Syria, and after last year's militant performance in Beirut, they are being rewarded; also for the fact they are the only official group in the Opposition that is secular (after all Aoun gave up years ago on secularism and preached Christianity). This allows Hassan Nasrallah to argue that whenever Sunni and Shiite militants collide (Future and AMAL to be exact), it is strictly political and not sectarian (same as Harriri) Of course, on TV, we see the MPs joking around, and the sort, hugging each other, laughing, and go back home to their fancy houses. I might exclude Ali Ammar (the MP that was actually a football player who takes in charge of agressively "purifying the chins" of those who mention Hezbollah badly. This guy is a walking time bomb to explode in the parliament. The fact that the Lebanese Communist Party walked out from the Opposition, means the SSNP are the only secular party within the Opposition, within the Lebanese borders.
2) The Democratic Left: Yes, you read that right. They are, much of my hate to them, back to the Parliament, even though with one MP. Why we may ask that question? Well they are the only group that is secular within the 14th of March, but also they carry the maryrdom of Samir Qassir in their files. For such a reason, again to preserve the monopoly of the 2005 - 2007 martyrs of figureheads, a DLM had to be elected. The other reason is the fact that the DLM figureheads, specially Elias Atallah, was the cofounder of the Resistance Front, which fought Israel skin to the teeth; hence 14th of March can use the fascinating relic of Elias Atallah to preach that they have militants that fought Israel in the past. We both remember how Prime Minister Seniora and Hassan Nasrallah competed about whose block was the resistance.
Main issue is: citizens are dying. The man who got stabbled, he may be a part of the Free Patriotic Movement, but he was a citizen, and not an armed militant. It gets worse, by-standers are getting wounded or killed (remember when AMAL's Berri spoke and couple recieved raining bullets? That case was closed swiftly). If we don't have Israel bombing over our heads, we have the political parties shooting at each other, with the occassion of someone mysterious releasing a missile from South Lebanon on Israel's Northern Frontier, and Israel replies with a massive bombardment on nearby villages as if these civilians shot the rockets. Security wise? Fantastic, what more can we ask?
The double tongue of the politicians of escalations and "love affairs of each other" caused this. The economic situation makes it worse, for people's lives are horrible in the country with minimum wages, and frustration goes on the "enemy". The "enemy" is not Israel, it is not the Qa'eda based Fatah Islam (whom we are still debating if it was Syria sending them through the borders or the US sent them), but each other. These riots just escalate more problems, for riots and hate bring more riots and fear, and eventually one day we will have those sporadic violence spreading across sensitive regions in less than 20 minutes. Of course, everyone will yell to their supporters: "go home" or "these parties are armed". I got news for you, a very nice juicy secret news for you: EVERYONE IS ARMED! What happened with the arms that the SSNP or AMAL carried with them? Still there under the banner of Resistance Arms! What happened with the weapons of 14th of March, apparently new ones can be bought easily, and with the latest military blunder of last year, they can learn from their mistakes (super yay for 14th of March, boohoo for the citizens). Having said all these, what about the Labenese in general?
This is why I watch few channels in Lebanon that go on Middle Grounds: LBC and NTV. The problem with NTV though, like Junblatt, they got a moodswing of their own as well: they swing between 14th of March, middle grounds, and the Opposition. By Middle Grounds, I sure do not mean "All the President's men", these people, like Ziad Baroud, will never be elected in a sectarian based state.
Anyways, the reason why I watch the LBC roundabout (yes, sure they put Jaajaa couple of minutes more than the rest) is the fact they ask everyone what happened and what they think. Well, what do they think?! Anyone noticed how the citizens of both sides of a conflicting regions go down screaming and yelling: "we have no problems with our neighbors", "we are all Lebanese", "Don't involve us with party politics", "Leave us alone". Anyone noticed as we sit on our chair (with a nice juicy glass of white wine in my hand) and notice how our proletariat hate what is going on? Notice that there are always a mini-angry crowd blaming the other party while the majority just expressing regrets? (glass finished in one sip after watching the old lady, heartbroken, saying to the politicians: leave us alone). The reason is that these political riots, including the mysterious Inerga (whatever spelled) missiles, and the hand grenades are just the beginning. They suit the politicians to divide the Proletariat according to their sects, and furthermore, and worse, they impose the political divisions on the Lebanese people. Thus, if affiliates of Sect A, but not party affiliates (perhaps some sympathy) has no issues with Sect B, on the contrary relations are fantastic, and these riots take place. Sect A, if losing casualties in this or that region, or even experiencing fear, doubts Sect B. What if some hot head militant that belongs to sect A, pays retaliates and hurts Sect B, the domino effect rolls. All politicians (including Hezbollah, our "defenders" and the "secular" Lebanese Forces) get what they want: isolated sects that clutch to the secatarian parties. Why? Simple... if Sect A for example supports Harriri, but its people are in good relations with Sect B (say supporters of Hezbollah), how to get neighbors to shoot at each other? Simple: bring the hooligans to do some riots, then viola! Fear of the other!
Who benefits: the politicians; who mourns: the proletariat
Who gets richer: the politicians; who mourns: the proletariat
Who goes to their rich houses, the politicians, who is getting poorer: the Proletariat.
The media of the parties are still charging the situation, depends on whenever Minister Baroud yells at them to cool it down aggressively or not!
Lately, these incidents (after the riots of three years, and of course 17 years of civil wars) seem normal to a lot of us. It is as if a Pavlov effect whereby we got accustomed to it!
As my beloved friend Darko said in two posts earlier, we are losing hope, I lost it ages ago, I mean I am still a Marxist, and not any Marxist, the one who still dreams to unite the world into a single classless society where everyone are equal (reminds us of John Lennon's Imagine; good song) I say, we have no choice, as activists to carry on with our belief and quest we can change Lebanon and the whole world (no, I am not doing an Obama ad. of Yes We Can), more like Connelly's logo of: Our demands most humble, we want the world. Neverthelesss, if we do not have the vision, what do we have on the ground? Sad pictures of Iraqis dying by the 100s every day while enjoying what Bush Jr. said: "Giving Freedom and Democracy?" (Side note: Bush Jr. I am still waiting for those damn Weapons of Mass Destructions, you did promise us they will pop up eventually).
It is now 6:51 in Beirut, I bid thee all good night/morning (yes, I am a night crawler, and had a whole rakwi of caffeine for myself in the afternoon)
PS: Doesn't my post on Iran, Hezbollah, and Wilayat el Faqih click on what happened on the elections over there? I love it when my analysis hits the right bullseye