On Sunday a small, seemingly marginal group of Islamist militants in North Lebanon demonstrated just how precarious the security situation is in this country. A rag-tag band of gunmen belonging to Fatah al-Islam resisted the authority of security forces who had come to arrest them, sparking off a series of deadly clashes that resulted in the deaths of dozens of people and largely shut down the city of Tripoli.
One thing I hadn’t heard on the news (until the last few hours or so) was that they were trying to arrest your common, ordinary, run of the mill, criminals. I’m seriously curious why anyone would try to protect them, unless they weren’t your ordinary type criminal.
One of the most worrying developments of the day came in the form of a statement faxed to various news agencies that claimed to represent Fatah al-Islam. It warned that if the Lebanese Army’s assault on the group did not end, “our mujahideen … will open the gates of hell … against [the army] and against the whole of Lebanon.” A spokesman for Fatah al-Islam later denied that the statement had been issued by the group, but it nonetheless prompted fears among the Lebanese public, who were reminded of the potential for their country to get caught in the crossfires of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
I feel bad that innocent Lebanese civilians are getting caught in the crossfire, but who invited these ‘refugees’ into Lebanon?
Fatah al-Islam has said that one of its primary objectives is to train the Palestinians “to fight the Jews in Palestine” – an activity that they have been carrying out more than 200 kilometers away from the Israeli border. But regardless of what the group has said of its stated objectives, the truth is that to date, the only people to have died at the hands of these militants have been Lebanese citizens and possibly Palestinians. Thus their sole accomplishment is that they have added to the suffering of the Lebanese and Palestinian people.
I may be reading this wrong, but it sounds like the writer has no problem with fighting the Jews.
Lebanon has paid a higher price than any other Arab country in terms of lives and livelihoods lost to the Arab-Israeli conflict. During the Civil War, Palestinian leaders in Beirut famously argued that “the road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh,” suggesting that it was necessary for the Palestinians to defeat Lebanese Christian militias before they could achieve a Palestinian state. Most of those same leaders later abandoned their struggle and that logic, but not before instilling great suspicion in the Lebanese people.
If you still don’t think this is a religious war, read that paragraph again. Christians defending themselves with their own militia. Why would they need one if such actions were not condoned?
Sunday’s events ought to serve as a reminder to Lebanese leaders of all political stripes that there is an urgent need to implement measures that were agreed upon with the heads of the country’s Palestinian factions, all of whom have denounced Fatah al-Islam. A framework must be created so that a small band of criminals can never succeed in destabilizing this country and jeopardizing relations between Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians.
Perhaps the people of Lebanon should realize inviting terrorists into your country is not a very good idea.
And so, the bloodshed goes on.