After weeks of sectarian violence fuelled by Syria’s civil war, Lebanon’s parliamentary speaker summoned deputies this week for a legislative session to address the country’s deepening crisis.
They never met.
Hobbled by many of the same religious and ideological rivalries that are tearing Syria apart, Lebanon’s government fell in March and a new one has yet to emerge. Deputies failed to reach a quorum on speaker Nabih Berri’s summons, forcing him to postpone any meeting for another fortnight.
The parliament building now stands empty in the central Beirut district rebuilt after Lebanon’s own 1975-1990 civil war, a symbol of institutional impotence in the face of what many fear is a slow drift back to chaos.
Access roads were ringed with razor wire to keep out a few dozen people who hurled tomatoes at deputies they say lost their legitimacy when last month’s parliamentary election was postponed - another victim of the political rifts.
Such stalemate would be worrying at any time, but with Sunni-Shi’ite violence spreading from Syria into Lebanon and half a million Syrian refugees straining an economy already in sharp slowdown, the leadership vacuum is alarming.
Lebanon’s 18 religious groups, including Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, Maronite and Orthodox Christians, are deeply divided over the Syria conflict.
Outside central Beirut, arguments are fought out not with fruit but with firearms - guns, rockets and grenades - in the coastal cities of Sidon and Tripoli, the southern districts of the Lebanese capital and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
At least 40 people were killed in Sidon last week in clashes between the army and supporters of a fiery Sunni Muslim sheikh who backs Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, security and medical sources said.
In Tripoli, deadly street fights involving Sunni fighters, the army and pro-Assad gunmen from the Syrian leader’s Alawite sect have killed dozens so far this year.
And Bekaa Valley towns loyal to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim militia Hezbollah, which is fighting for Assad in Syria, have come under rocket fire by suspected rebel fighters whose own ranks are swelled by foreign jihadis including Lebanese Sunnis.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر