Northern Lebanon’s bitter truth

Nayla Tueni

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The 17th round of the ongoing fighting in Lebanon’s capital of the North, Tripoli, has not been ended by an agreement for a truce yet. And it doesn’t seem the situation will find a happy ending. No settlement seems to be in the near future either. It’s as if the struggle between the Gulf Sunni axis and the Iranian, Syrian, Shiite and Alawite axis did not find an arena other than Tripoli to settle its accounts - that is if we believe that the battle has become regional and that the aforementioned axes are capable of affecting change across the Middle East.

The situation in the North is no longer acceptable by humanitarian, security and national standards. No one has made real effort to reach a real settlement that ends the continuous struggle which feeds off the bodies of the poor and sucks their blood. These poor people do not know what their interests are. They think they are defending their existence which is not threatened in the first place since the Lebanese component maintains all groups, sects, doctrines and parties - even those which are semi-extinct.

Tripoli’s poor have become involved in a game between nations. They do not fight and kill for a cause they are fully aware of. They have turned into tools, activated to fight whenever the local or the regional player, which also turned into tools, decide.

There are many facts in Tripoli that people are unaware of. Many ask questions but find no satisfactory answers. We try to be convinced of the justifications of many parties’ failure to provide answers or solutions.

Muddy waters

It’s said in the areas of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen that security apparatuses negatively interfere in the fighting between the two neighborhoods and that these apparatuses provide protection for the axes’ leaders, provide fighters with arms and facilitate the fighters’ movement and the passage of supplies. If this is true, it means that the official security apparatuses are participating in the fighting. It also means that these apparatuses have turned into tools controlled by foreign parties which want to ignite war. The army is not the only party accused of dereliction. The Internal Security Forces, General Security and State Security are also accused of dereliction. They all participate in security plans and compete at counting achievements and at executing successful operations. But no apparatus announces its responsibility for the prolonged failure in Tripoli. After all, success has many fathers while failure is an orphan.

Tripoli’s poor have become involved in a game between nations. They do not fight and kill for a cause they are fully aware of

Nayla Tueni

We also don’t want to believe that a prime minister and ministers, under the slogan of performing good deeds, are supplying armed men with monthly funds. This contradicts what they’re announcing to the media and harms their credibility with regards to seeking to end the fighting.

It’s true that there are complicated calculations that appear to be a Sunni-Shiite struggle and that these calculations may be stronger and more capable than those of local players. But the truth is, security apparatuses’ restrictions on fighters, cutting off supplies to fighters and lifting the political cover of these fighters will force armed men to surrender. The last solution would be for the government to make up its mind and order the army to strike with an iron fist anyone who allows himself to shoot at citizens or at soldiers.

Not carrying out an initiative after 17 rounds of violence in Tripoli definitely amounts to political and security failure. It amounts the necessity to either request the premier, the cabinet and the security leaders to go home or to hold them accountable for the deliberate dereliction. They can thus save themselves from the curse of history, a curse which sees the state’s prestige collapse due to a bunch of fighters.

It’s a cry of conscience and a cry of pain because silence is no longer acceptable and because silence means collusion with the murderers.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on Oct. 28, 2013.


Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni

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