Lebanon: Political Tensions are Escalating

While the people in Lebanon were under the impression that the latest negotiations between the leading political groups might translate into a glimpse of a brighter and calmer days to come, two people were killed and four injured in a clash between two rival Christian parties in Bsarma village in Koura, north Lebanon.

The two parties which clashed are the anti-Syrian Lebanese Forces and the pro-Syrian Marada movement. Marada’s Youseef Frangieh and the Lebanese Forces’ Pierre Isaac were the two identified bodies at the crime scene. Based on the initial report from scene, the clash occurred over a poster promoting a mass organized by the Lebanese Forces that was being placed in Bsarma near the Marada's Headqaurter. When those hanging the banner were asked to take it down, shots were fired from one side and met with retaliation from the other side ending with the death of the two citizens and party members.

Once the news began to circulate in the media and make headlines, theories on this incident being nothing more than a revenge episode orchestrated by some Lebanese Forces’ members against Youseef Frangieh surfaced, especially after Frangieh came out publicly on a local TV station announcing his part in shooting the Lebanese Force’s current leader Samir Geagea back in the 70s during the civil war in an attempt to stop an operation co-led by Geagea.

Historically the two parties in question here share a bloody background and armed clashes that can be traced over 30 years. Many Lebanese regards current party leaders as civil war warlords whose current political groups are merely a front display with an armed militia behind it.

Both The Marada and The Lebanese Forces are represented officially by websites backed by blog spaces. The Lebanese Forces’ official website published the televised press release of it is leader Samir Geagea:

“يجب أن نتحلى بالكثير من المسؤولية وقد باشرت اتصالاتي فور معرفتي بالخبر وقد اتصلت أولا برئيسي الجمهورية والحكومة ووزيري الدفاع والداخلية وقائد الجيش”.
ورأى “أن ما حدث في بصرما ليس عملا سياسيا ومنع السلاح يجب أن يكون على الجميع ومن ضمنها عناصرنا”، مقترحا “سيطرة الجيش ليصار الى منع التجمعات الحزبية حتى في المراكز الحزبية ومنع السلاح لان حياة انسان واحد اهم من كل المراكز الحزبية، وعلينا التحلي بالحكمة والروية”.

We must practice responsibility and I've immediately made phones calls to the government officials starting with President and the National Army commander as soon as I heard the news. What took place in Bsrama is not a political statement and all weapons and arms must be prohibited on all parties including the ours [Lebanese Forces]. The National Army should maintain the security to prevent such events and because a single human life value more than any political headquarter. And we must show wisdom and calm in such times.

On the other hand, Marada's official website published it's leader Suleiman Frangieh's speech:

نحن في عهد جديد. ما قبل إتفاق الدوحة غير ما بعد إتفاق الدوحة. عندنا رئيس جديد وعندنا وزير داخلية جديد وعندنا حكومة وفاق وطني وعندنا مشروع لبداية قيام الدولة، سنجرب ونحن نضع الأمور بيد رئيس الجمهورية وبيد القضاء اللبناني وأنا أثق بالقاضي جان فهد ولنرى ماذا سيحصل وعلى اساسها نعرف كيف نتصرف.

We are in a new era now. The Doha-Agreement has changed everything. We now have a new President, a new Interior Minister, along with a national conciliation government and have the beginnings of a state. The new government is step to rebuilding the country and we are going to try and leave the matter to the official departments and law enforcements and I trust the Judge Jan Fahad. We will wait and see what the outcome of investigation, and our response will be based on that outcome.

It is important to note that Marada's leader gave the government and its investigation team a 15 day period to issue its report and bring the responsible individuals to justice regardless of their political and diplomatic immunity or he would take matters into his own hands. Upon hearing the comment, Lebanese Forces’ Geagea made it clear that his party doesn't like the threatening nature of this speech and that his party is capable of responding to such threats.

Al Owuet Front (Al Owuet is Arabic-Lebanese slang meaning Forces), a popular blog for Lebanese Forces’ members and promoted on their official website posted a series of three articles so far updating its readers on the incident. Blogger N10452 who maintains the blog, posted the first article upon hearing the news:

I dont want to judge anyone’s intentions, i know what Marada militants are .. they are thugs and probably think shooting & killing is something common to do in the middle of an argument ..

But i also ask Samir Geagea and whomever is responsible in this village and the LF students head (forgot his name cause i barely hear about him doing anything, ya ma7la Spiro).

Why were those guys armed while sticking posters ?? whats the use of weapons when you are promoting for a mass for the martyrs ??

Why are those posters being hung so recklessly and randomly ?? it is unacceptable to glue them at people’s properties and its been done and its also being done excessively on public walls.

After the release of the Lebanese Forces’ response to the Bsarma incident, N10452 posted again quoting a segment from the speech and criticizing it:

And the rest of the speech is even more pathetic ..
Calling for forgiveness [with] Frangieh and presenting his condoleances to the Frangieh & Isaac families and opening up to Marada ?? Whats next ?? signing a reconciliation ???

In his third post, the blogger's frustration post the incident is clearly evident in what he entitled: Inter-Christian deadly clashes – When will we learn ?:

Since the early 70s, rival Christian parties clashed and left behind many kills & injured. Sheikh Bashir Gemayel wanted to put an end to this in the late 70s and he almost managed to do so by uniting the militias even if he had to lead some deadly battles to do so.

In 1982, had he took over the presidency, he would have put an end once and for all to all sorts of militias in the country, but he was taken away from us sadly.
Nonetheless, since then, Christian parties never understood that disagreeing on opinions does not mean shooting at each other and killing one another, and apparently many people here are not getting my point …

Both groups have a military and a political history that is observed by some as a patriotic chapter in the Lebanese history while others regard it as war crimes, tinted with streams of events and agendas. In a country like Lebanon, when a single word like patriotism and resistance can be defined in more ways than Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary ever can, it seems all you have to do to spread enough chaos and instability and wait until someone does something stupid.

Remarkz‘s blogger Bech left us an interesting post that illustrates in his opinion the current events regarding the social campaigns and word-tricks used by some political parties that led might fuel more incidents like the one in Bsarama in the future.

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