Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Testimonials 30 years after a civil war

Testimonials 30 years after a civil war: Status of Lebanese bordering Israel

The issue of May 23, 2005

What about the conditions of the Lebanese citizens living in the region bordering Israel and those inhabiting Dahieh, a suburb of south Beirut, since the withdrawal of Israel in May 24, 2000?  What are their conditions after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops in April 2005? Immediately after Israel withdrew from south Lebanon, Mahdi climbed an electric post and hanged the flag of Hezbollah, along with the picture of a martyr from Hezbollah.  Hassan followed suit, climbed the next post, hanged the flag of “Amal” Party and the picture of another martyr from “Amal” of Nabih Berri.

Two years after Israel withdrawal from south Lebanon, almost every town and village in the South is showing its flag and Party affiliation, strong with dozens of martyrs’ pictures, banners, and huge pictures of religious and political figures.

People in towns living under Hezbollah control and administration have accommodated themselves to the rules, customs, and regulations of Shiaa Islamic codes of clothing and social activities.  No booze, betting, or even communal meeting places for wedding ceremony, or of mixed gathering between the sexes. Names on buildings, stores, and shops have changed to be replaced by religious connotations such as: Batul, Rida, Kaouthar, Israa, Ghadir and so forth.  Most of these places attach boxes soliciting money for Islamic charities.

The United Nations installed several UNDP centers to teach the youth the basics for dialog, through entertainment events, but Hezbollah prevented them and retracted by asking the UN employees to move these centers outside the villages.  A few municipalities around Bent Jbil decided to gather statistics on the inhabitants and their employments ,but were prohibited to resume their endeavors by Hezbollah on grounds of security reasons because such activities might allow the statistics agents to enter homes, meet with families and get an eye witness facts of inside the homes.  An investor established a center for wedding ceremonies and a restaurant, then Hezbollah bought him out.

Most of the youth are directly reliant on Hezbollah and “Amal” for jobs, health care, and monthly stipend.  In return they follow assignments for hanging flags, posters and organizing demonstrations.  Many former supporters of the splinter South Lebanese army, affiliated to Israel, who were collaborators to Israel have become supporters of Hezbollah and abide by their social rules in order to secure peace and safety.  In return, Hezbollah share the expertise and intelligence services of these former collaborators in their proper towns.

Any religious or political figure who demands the dismantling of Hezbollah heavy arms is branded a US spy and collaborator.

The social life of a southern village is a small replica of Dahieh, a suburb of Beirut. In this sprawling suburb of south Beirut citizens live under the total control of Hezbollah and this area acquired the coded name of “security blocks”, which expand from Haret Hrik to Bir Abed.  Buildings and streets are controlled by Hezbollah’s militants and all egress and entrance of the population to the area are monitored and investigated.

This zone is closed to the legitimate investigators from the Justice Ministry and administrative officers.  Any citizen who travels outside is asked to remit his passport after his return, and internet communications subscriptions are delayed until a full personal record is completed and checked for the person, his friends and connections. The inhabitants have taken to personally reporting their new acquisitions of cameras, telescopes, binoculars or anything that might be deemed a security concern.

The issue of the daily Al Balad, May 13, 2005

Before the war, Tripoli was a busy sea port city with the casino Bohemia in the area of Jemizat and the Lido in Tal Square.  Nowadays, the citizen of Tripoli, especially the youth, have to drive to neighboring Christian villages and towns in order to drink alcohol, dance and have a good time. They have to drive to Zgarta, Ehden, Dahr Ain, and Betrun to pay visits to night clubs and bars.

The Islamists still have enough influence to prohibit alcohol consumption through various pressures including bombing any store suspected of selling booze. Many subsidiaries in different regions of Lebanon could offer alcoholic drinks but they refrain from that practice in Tripoli proper.

Many inhabitants who drink outside the city exhibit conservative stands within the city limits. Those who feel like drinking do it within their closed cars with their friends. Two parliamentary deputies supported the opening of a fancy night club in the main avenue of Riad Solh but failed to implement it. The main objection to any openness is the traditional stock phrase: “Tripoli has its proper character and it is advisable to leave the city alone”.

Tripoli did not enjoy the largess of government expenditures even though Rashid Karame was the Prime Minister who stayed the longer time as head of various governments.

The main souk in Bab Tebaneh is the most overcrowded in the country and within a residential district. The souk is practically opened 24 hours and the security forces are non existent to control the order and safety of the resident inhabitants. Residents are not able to enjoy any quietness and repose except during official holidays. There were many promises to relocate the souk to commercial zones with better facilities and modern infrastructure but nothing so far materialized.

Testimonials 30 years after a civil war

The issue May 9, 2005 of daily Al Balad

 A girl testified that she did not hear of the General Aoun Movement (Tayyar Taghyir wa Islah)until her last High School year. When the authority cancelled a live interview with the General on channel MTV the school bus passed by the Science University, and she picked up a few leaflets denouncing the authorities. Her teacher complained to the head master who questioned her. 

She watched a demonstration of the General Aoun Movement supporters in front of the MTV headquarter; that was the first time she was exposed to a demonstration. In the faculty of natural sciences, she participated in handing out leaflets, especially on the eve of Independence Days, November 21.

A few times, students were confronted by intelligence agents and booked overnight.  The students applied as candidates for the student council, simply to be present during the counting of the ballot.

The General’s freedom movement supporters performed dangerous activities such as distributing leaflets at night.  The faculty was shut down and barbed wires were erected around the faculty to prevent the movement’s political celebrations or gatherings.

The girl’s first action was to participate in a gathering reclaiming the setting free of the student Walid Ashkar.  She was at the Museum demonstration of April 2000 where dozens of students were beaten up and sent to prisons.  The coded honking of the Tayayr was heard from the encircled demonstrators, while she kept running away from the mayhem.

The students knew the intelligence agents in their faculty by name, and they used to tambourine on their desks during their presence and shouting “Out Fassido”.

The students marched on March 14, 2000 toward the Syrian army headquarter in Fanar and she did not feel any sort of exhaustion.  Citizens threw rice on the marchers in support and the Lebanese soldiers were uncomfortable of their duty of keeping the peace.  Fear vanished from her life after she was incarcerated, and she paid no attention to her relatives’ admonitions such as “What can you realize?  Girl, why do you have to act like that?”

Testimonials 30 years after a civil war: Return of General Michel Aoun 

The issue May 8, 2005 of daily Al Balad

 In this day, General Michel Aoun returned to Lebanon from 15 years of exile, spent mostly in France.  Aoun had promised to return home after the Syrian troops officially withdrawal from all Lebanese territories, and before the Parliamentary election so that he could be involved in that process on the ground. 

Aoun told the 350 thousand citizens gathered at the Martyrs’ Square: “Lebanon is freed. If I ever use any confessional (sectarian) language I’ll ask you to dismiss me.  We are ready to fight the political money that brought Lebanon to bankruptcy, and we will prosecute any responsible proved to be part of these grand thefts.” 

400 cars and buses flocked from the Christian villages around East Sidon to welcome their leader and emancipator from the Syrian hegemony.  People converged from Byblos, Haret Hrike, Dir Kamar, Zahle, Ashkut, Ajaltun, from the North, South, Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa valley.

General Aoun once said that any solution to succeed and to last needs the simultaneous agreement and approval of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel for the resolution of any problem between two of these countries. General Aoun also stated that Lebanon is too big to be swallowed and too small to be divided.

The supporters of the General freedom movement (Tayyar Taghyir wa Islah) constantly update their slogans, songs and symbols.  They used to rely on military songs such as “Only you soldiers of Lebanon” and “Throw flowers, the soldiers have arrived”  then adopted our famous singer Mageda Rumy songs such as “Resist your encirclement” and “I swear to God”. The Movement moved on to liking a few leftist songs such as “I am coming back to the disinherited people”. 

The  favorite poets of the sympatizers are: Said Akl, Maurice Awad and father Simon Assaf.  They adopted the Omega symbol for resistance, enclosing the cedar tree and they are planning on removing all the pictures of the General in military attire to be replaced by civilian garment pictures.

Testimonials 30 years after a civil war: On the Communist Party  status  

From The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 11, 2005

 Members of the Communist Party are disenchanted with its rigid structure of imposing political positions and letting go of those who publicly criticize its current stands.

The new generation of communists is not ready to succumb to old fashion party lines when the population is gaining momentum for change and vigorously demonstrating for their rights. The Communist party took an independent third stand during the freedom period from the Syrian occupation; it claimed that the opposition and conservative forces were gathering under sectarian lines, such as Christians and Moslem Sunnis against Moslem Shiaas.

The Communist party went ahead and organized a march that gathered around 20 thousands adherents and supporters.

A few of the Communist leaders publicly criticized this non popular position, and were fired from the ranks. Members of the party joined the demonstrations and some visited the freedom tents in the Martyrs’ Square.

When approached by former members and were challenged “Well, well, looks you are among us today?”, current members were apologetic in their comments giving excuses like feeling curious about what’s happening on the ground or cursing their leaders for their foolish decisions at this crucial moment in Lebanon freedom.

Many members have decided that enough is enough after several wrong turns; they quit the party to join the splintered faction called the Left Democratic Movement. In 2003-2004, students from the Lebanese University organized a sit in for 5 months because they were fed up with the security meddling in the academic affairs and wanted to reclaim the University independence in its administration and faculty appointments. The Communist Party central political bureau was against these demonstrations that support of the Lebanese University integrity and discouraged the students from participating, a position which aggravated the frustration of the young communist generation.

There was another group of University students in these freedom tents from the “Future Youth Association”.  The members of this group organized themselves in 1994 when Rafic Hariri was Prime Minister and seemed as the strongest political figure in the Lebanese power structure.  The internal regulations among these intellectuals were not purely political in nature because Hariri tried to steer them away from organizing political demonstrations due to his critical maneuvering situation.

The “Future movement” association fell back into organizing cultural conventions, economic workshops, planting tree campaigns and creating basket ball and volley ball teams.  Nevertheless, the association was active in student elections in various universities and their strength was commensurate with Hariri’s current political power.

After Hariri was asked to step aside as Prime Minister in 1998, and had to wait two years to regain the helm of the government, this association of intellectuals and graduate students realized that their “leader was not that powerful by a long shot” as Nader Nakib put it and that Hariri had to maneuver his allegiance and regain favors to the Syrian regime in order to get back to power.

The power base of this association was localized in Beirut and partially in Sidon.  After the assassination of Hariri, the “Future Youth Association” regained strength and individual initiative and tried to open centers in many regions of Lebanon for the coming parliamentary election.

Ali, an insider in the association, affirms that no politician who was under the Syrian control will be attached to the Future lists of candidates in the next Parliamentary election.




April 2023

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