Lebanon: Strike Gone Sour

May 7 should have been a day for general strike and demonstration to contest the government’s economic policies, price rise and low wages. The workers syndicate had to cancel the demonstration, although keeping the strike on, because clashes broke out in many places around Lebanon between different factions belonging to the pro–government and opposition camps. Bloggers were quick to comment on the events. Here are some of their reflections from yesterday although the events are escalating very fast into gunfights in the streets of Beirut. Check back for more summaries on bloggers posts and reports on the unfolding crisis:

Tantalus’ comment reflects what most Lebanese fear – “a civil war”:

upon hearing knocking on his door, Lebanese citizen gets up to see who's there:
Oh Civil War, where have you been for 18 years? I've missed you. Welcome back.

Rami expresses his disgust:

Also F*** those who try to pretend they’re angels, while we know very well that it takes AT LEAST 2 to start a fight, so it’s quite obvious that 8 March and 14 March are both a*******.
I’m at work now and I still don’t know if it will be safe to go back home or not… Oh that’s one more F*** YOU to the “wado3″ (situation).

The Inner Circle
explains why he is now ashamed of being Lebanese:

The worst part of all this, is that Lebanese think they’re propped up to being better than their surroundings. For one, Lebanon is not even on the map for most of the world; For me, today, Lebanon is mostly a bunch of low class, rubbish people that rule out any image the few intellectuals behind the scenes strive to propagate. Everybody forgot the purpose of today’s demonstration, or whatever you want to call it, ten minutes into the show.

Angry Arab analyzes what Lebanon is going through and why from a social, regional and historical perspective:

Several of the emails I received from Beirut today informed me that “civil war” has erupted or started in Lebanon. Which makes you wonder: when does social science decide when a civil war officially starts? It does not start with a parade or a press conference, and I can assure you, from experience, that often people don't know that they just entered a civil war. […]
What Lebanon is going through right now is undoubtedly part of the legacy of Rafiq Hariri. His designs for Lebanon (early on with Syrian-Saudi support, and later with the support of a faction in the Syrian regime before it was neutralized after the rise of Bashshar Al-Asad) clearly were in tune with the US-Israeli plans in the region. […]
Sanyruah was too inviting for the Americans: they thought that he would do in Lebanon what Maliki failed to do in Iraq: to impose national will against militias and resistance groups anywhere in the region. No one in the new era is permitted to defy US/Israeli will. […]
What happened in Lebanon today was certainly part of a larger regional conspiracy: you can't isolate the developments of Lebanon from the developments in Iraq and Palestine. […]
So will there be civil war? Thus far, one can say this. The party that wants civil war can't achieve it, and the party that is capable of instigating and sustaining a civil war does not want it–not yet anyway.

Jnoubiyeh mentions the government's decisions as violations that will lead to undesired repercussions:

The decision to remove B.G. Shqeir will also prompt Muslim Shiite powers in the opposition to act so that immunity of Muslim Shiite official posts remains intact.
Hours earlier, the vice president of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Abdul Amir Kabalan said he conveyed a message to Saniora that removing Shqeir would be viewed as an unprecedented violation that will lead to undesired repercussions.
For his part, the head of the Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun defended Hezbollah's communications network, stressing “there are other private communications networks than Hezbollah's.” “Finding a camera on airport road is not a security penetration,” Aoun said. “The road to Bekfaya is full of cameras and they monitor us all the time,” he added.

Friday Lunch Club posts a letter he got from Nir Rosen in which Nir reports about his experience during the day while running around from one flashpoint to another:

“….I spent the entire day running around all the flashpoints in Beirut, wherever there were mobs, shootings, explosions, I got harassed by various militias from both sides and it works perfectly for my big story about the Sunnis of Lebanon and their militias, but I was really shocked at the behavior of Amal. I’ve spent a lot of time with Mustaqbal militiamen, who of course are thuggish and racist and their militias are getting better organized, and that’s all frightening, but they seem very weak and almost cowardly when compared with the Amal thugs I saw today, who were very provocative.

The Human Province asks how an issue like raising the minimum wage should become an excuse for street fight:

My friend S, on the other hand, lives in Corniche el-Mazra'a, where there has been fighting most of the day. She just told me that they haven't seen any army troops in over an hour, just militiamen from Amal and Mostaqbal (Future Movement) carrying guns and RPG launchers. They don't have any electricity and have had to leave the living room, because the windows are too big. There have been other clashes in the usual places: Cola, Museitbeh, Tariq el-Jadida, Tayounneh and Ras el-Naba'a, amongst others.
It's really depressing to me how even an issue like raising the minimum wage, which should have appeal across sectarian lines, inevitably turns into an excuse for thugs from vying political parties to fight in the street.

Mirvat sees the situation as a curse Lebanese inherited from their Phoenician forefathers:

It is the curse of our fathers that we should never be together, that we should always be divided. That we should destroy everything we achieve. That we should work against each other. That we should always leave the next generation in dire despair and faced with the challenge of re-building a name for themselves and their country, until we ruin it all, all over again.
Feiruz is stuck at the airport!
Will we ever be taken seriously again, be respected again? When we do not trust ourselves, we exhaust ourselves, we self-destroy and we will .. inevitably .. implode from within!

Liliane sees Lebanon being torn apart between two factions:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we the Lebanese are being dissected and torn apart by two major evil forces, the Haririst and the Hezbollah!
The coming days will unveil the upcoming war, not necessarily a typical civil war which we are used to, but when RPGs, Snipers and bombs are used in a supposedly “peaceful” demonstration, then it is an ugly battle taking place to say the least.
Until now, some of the Future movement members have closed the road in Saadneyil and also in Masnaa, which is the crossing border between Lebanon and Syria in response to the closing of the road to the airport by Hezbollah. The first, claimed that once the airport road is open, they will open the roads on their ends.

Marxist From Lebanon points out to the fact that all political parties are organized for war:

The events of today show much each and every political party is organized for war. The realist perspective would be the Security dilemma: “hey they got arms, so I will have arms as well even though I am a lover of peace!” A Small Question though, if you take the collective number of the people on the streets, it tells you that the majority of the proletariat in Lebanon do not [want] war, and only those pathetic rug rats wants to go to war.

Photos and updates are being posted at Blacksmiths of Lebanon, at Bilad ash-Sham and at Farfahinne.


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