By Brett Redmayne-Titley
“ We have seen war… too much war. We enterprise peace. To have assent we must live together as one people. The new supervision says so. We support the government.” – Taxi motorist on the streets of Beirut.
Author’s Note: This is Part Two in a multi-part series approach and on-scene from the Middle East. For credentials info. not steady here, greatfully see Part One.
Indeed the people of Lebanon have seen too much war. Though their military has not in its story set foot on unfamiliar soil, remaining in the minds of the Lebanese are one bloody polite fight and 3 detached wars of advance in 1982, 1999, and 2006. Now it would seem that a new fight is brewing again on its southern border.
In all these examples fight was brought to their land by Israel who, using fake premises, pounded the municipal race and infrastructure at will attempting and unwell to conquer the collateral city, Beirut. Despite this history, all Lebanese – solely the Palestinian retreat race – enterprise assent with Israel, but they too good know the need for a well-prepared army. An army of the people and for the people.
As Mao celebrated in his book, Guerrilla Warfare, “In sequence to put down the gun, one must first pick-up the gun.” This, practical to continued Israeli military unfamiliar policy that continues to bluster them, is the sad, demure reality that faces this pacific country at this very moment. However, deliberation the examples of military force in Turkey, documented in a before article, this army – their army – is very opposite indeed.
Arriving from Turkey into Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport just south of Beirut city, the differences spin immediately obvious. The airport’s immigration and etiquette workers and confidence guards do their job, but they are not aggressive. A Canadian contributor can simply be mistaken for being American, unfortunately, in the minds of some a good reason for a miss of politeness, but here you are treated with courtesy, nonetheless infrequently rather abruptly, by the staff who all wear military uniforms.
The people here are jovial, smiling and peaceful to help. They secrete a untroubled suggestion regardless of the before ravages of fight being always at hand. Beirut is famous for its very late nightlife that goes on 7 nights a week, mostly until 4 AM or later. As one Saturday night reveller summed up, drink in palm and a cigarette fluttering in the other, “We party like its the last night on earth… since it competence be!”
Many pronounce English due to 3 languages being compulsory in Lebanese colleges: Arabic, English and an elective denunciation of a student’s choice. Literacy is high and politics is oral freely. As such, the traveler feels at home, safe…and very welcome. Buying a high drink at any Beirut bar, a discerning introduction to anyone at arm’s length is all that it takes to make new friends. Politics is oral openly and they enterprise opinion on what is going on in the West, generally practical to the new American boss and his eagerness for new fight and for providing Israel carte blanche in its expansionist efforts against the Arab nations. Rightfully, they are endangered about the appearance of new war.
Sadly, there are distant fewer Western and EU travellers bringing much indispensable traveller income to an increasingly bankrupt Lebanon these days. The Syrian fight is small miles divided to the east; and nonetheless customary media reports that it is circuitous down, two critical contribution are widely famous to the normal Lebanese: The Americans and their made minions of fight exclude to leave and the Israelis are scheming to invade their country again – for the fifth time – around their southern border. For the moment, many areas here are protected and visitors have very little to fear, but this can again change, as before, at the humour of these two unfamiliar powers.
Driving into Beirut many buildings show the pock marks of hundreds of bullets holes still there from the polite fight of 1975- 1990 as they strangely lay immediately next to other renovated high-rise apartments. Others lay dormant, dim brownish black streaks dirty their extraneous walls where fire and smoke once billowed from their now glassless windows after the Israeli bombings of the municipal neighborhoods in the 4 before wars. The misfortune of these structures are held together by a patchwork of interlocked reddish, two-inch steel piping cumulative together to keep these hull from unexpected descending detached in total. This stage is accurately steady opposite the many-mile area of the suburbs that is today’s Beirut, a city that has been victimized by advance too mostly and that is a daily sign to the Lebanese of the past.
Yes, all Lebanese wish peace. The problem is, that assent is not up to them. As seen in Syria, the Western powers caring not at all for peace, a nation’s sovereignty, nor human life. These cracked scenes here, in what was once called the “Paris of the Middle East,” yield an ever-present reminder-a warning- of this terrible truth.
“We are not fearful of the military. We acquire them. They make us feel safe. They are here to strengthen Lebanese…to strengthen Lebanon. This is good.” – Shopkeeper in downtown Beirut.
The streets of Beirut have a very vast military presence. Everywhere. Whether it is the police, private security, or soldiers they all wear the same multi-grey-on grey with black and white deception uniforms. This creates a very visible presence. At the lowest spin a very few, such as parking attendants, are not armed. For the rest one can tell the disproportion in connection by the customary Kalashnikov involuntary rifles they hold and then counting the array of additional banana clip bullet magazines strapped to their bodies. Police have only the one clip in their rifle. The military have six!
Watching one set of police work the stage of a teenager traffic collision involving a automobile and engine scooter, the comparison officer is station opposite the street next to his white and black SUV while accidentally smoking a cigarette. He is examination his men closely. Suddenly he moves fast to the back of his truck. He has beheld that his men are not scrupulously armed. Snatching-up two AK-47s, he fast crosses the street and thrusts the weapons into their grasp, making them good wakeful of their mistake and his displeasure. He, like the rest of the Lebanese military, are holding no chances, not now… not ever!
The cops and the military, however, are pleasant. They watch their areas carefully, but are accessible and straightforwardly grin and discuss with passersby, mostly in front of the backdrop of the bullet-riddled buildings, and yield bizarre reporters the same way despite the denunciation barrier. They are everywhere in Beirut, but do not harass or intimidate. They smoke, discuss and seem loose while holding their rifles that do not leave their hands…but they do not sit. Those with unit cars are never inside them, instead station on display, likewise prepared for action, as the comparison officer at the traffic collision had formerly demanded of his own men. There is much to fear in Lebanon, but is not the people. And it is not the police.
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Wandering the streets safely late one night, nonetheless hopelessly lost among the innumerable of high unit buildings that limit any side of the street and yield no indicate of anxiety at all, two well-armed soldiers – special forces by the looks of their ruby-red caps – notice this foreigner coming them and … that he has somehow managed to be inside their sealed perimeter. They turn, confronting the stranger, instigation him in apparent Arabic that he is definitely in the wrong place. However, they do not draw their weapons, rather they check him out closely, looking with close inspection as he gets closer. The stranger’s heart rate is augmenting despite what he has celebrated that day having formerly dealt with American cops and military distant too mostly in his travels and depressed victim to their aggressions distant too often. Now his thumping heart palpitations throb at his temples as he closes the opening on this dark, wordless street… a healthy greeting due to past experience.
Now within 10 feet, the two special forces officers start to smile, then giggle kindly at the foreigners predicament, nonetheless indicating adamantly that he should pierce immediately outward their embankment and their confidence zone. No English is spoken, but they indicate the way back to a landmark and home, jolt their heads in entertainment as the foreigner ambles on, finally in the scold direction. This of march is a distant cry from how their American counterparts would likely have rubbed this very trusting situation.
For the residue of my time in Beirut we never again had any remaining fear at all of this military. A military that shows itself regularly, as on this night, to be… an Army for the People.
Author’s Note: This concludes Part Two of a multi-part series. Coming next: “Hezbollah: You Don’t See Them… They See You!”
About the Author: Brett Redmayne-Titley has published over 150 in-depth articles over the past 7 years for news agencies worldwide. Many have been translated. On-scene stating from critical stream events has been an importance that has led to multi-part exposes on such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, NATO summit, KXL Pipeline, Porter Ranch Methane blow-out and many more. He can be reached at: live-on-scene((at)) gmx.com. Prior articles can be noticed at his archive: www.watchingromeburn.uk