A Front-Row Seat At A Lebanese Tragedy

“There is something obscene about watching the siege of Nahr el-Bared- home to 30,000 lost souls who will never go home—basks in the Mediterranean sunlight behind a cluster of orange orchards. Soldiers of the Lebanese army, having retaken their positions on the main road north, idle their time aboard their personnel carriers…

And then come the crackle-crackle of rifle fire and a shoal of bullets drifts out of the camp. A Lebanese army tank fires a shell in return and we feel the faint shock wave from the camp. How many are dead? We don’t know. How many are wounded? The Red Cross cannot yet enter to find out…

We have Sunni Muslim fighters in the camp, in many cases shooting at Sunni Muslim soldiers who are standing in a Sunni Muslim village. It was a Lebanese colleague who seemed to put his finger on it all. ‘Syria is showing that Lebanon doesn’t have to be Christians versus Muslims or Shia versus Sunnis. It can be Sunnis versus Sunnis. And the Lebanese army can’t storm into Nahr el-Bared. That would be a step far greater than this government can take….’

We read through the list of army dead. Most of the names appear to be Sunni. And we glance up to the fleecy clouds, and across the mountain range to where the Syrian border lies scarcely 10 miles away. Not difficult to reach Nahr el-Bared from the frontier. Not difficult to re-supply. The geography makes a kind of political sense up here. And just up the road is the Syrian frontier post….

The Lebanese army is on the streets of Beirut to defend Siniora (Premier of nation), on the streets of Sidon to prevent sectarian disturbance, on the roads of southern Lebanon watching the Israelis frontier, and now, up here in the far north, besieging the poor and the beaten Palestinians of Nahr el-Bared and the dangerous little groupuscule which may- or may not -be taking its orders from Damascus.
Information from The Independent

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