"Sheathed in powder-blue body bags are the remains of 72 men, many of them bearing signs of terrible torture--holes in the skull made by power drills, mutilated genitals, burns. They are the signature of the shadowy Shiite groups that have been kidnapping and murdering hundreds of men and boys, most of them Sunnis, in a campaign that has terrorized Baghdad's neighborhoods."
As I read that in the Time magazine, on the train heading to the capital this morning, I quickly turned the magazine onto my lap and held my stomach closely afraid I would hurl.
This is real; this is what is going on in Iraq...not so far away from Lebanon. Sunnis and Shiites are murdering each other daily, and the Iraqi government still does not brand all this a civil war.
We have grown up in our part of the world hearing (and witnessing) of deaths and murders in Lebanon during the civil war and of brutal killings and torture of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers on a daily basis. No wonder we have become as a generation so desensitized to descriptive sentences such as the one above.
However, for some reason, as I sat comfortably in my train seat, I felt a shiver of fear inside me. How can someone distinguish between a Sunni and a Shiite? If now, we lined a Maronite, an Orthodox, a Shiite, and a Sunni next to each other, how can we tell them apart by their looks? Or demeanor? That's what is so scary about civil wars, what's so brutal.
Regardless of what many might say of the Lebanese national dialogue meeting that took place yesterday--that the "pact of honor" is a tribal mode of political operation--at least the leaders at the roundtable are still meeting face to face and have not ordered their followers to take positions behind war trenches.
This pact of honor is necessary, necessary because if leaders do not keep tabs on their followers, and leave them to take matters into their own hands, we will inevitably relapse to war. Once political leaders lose the grip, just like in Iraq, no government decree can stop the bloody domino effect.
If it wasn't for the above Time quote, which struck a cord inside me, I would have sat in front of the computer today morning to write a post that ridiculed the dialogue. But today, I sit before you to express gratitude that "our" leaders are still sitting to talk and still at least agreeing on a lowest common denominator.
Forget the government and making it accountable of security matters in the country. We should face it: we are operating in a tribal context and at the moment the political leaders on the table are stronger than a Lahoud, stronger than a Parliament, stronger than a Cabinet...stronger than state institutions. They have the keys to keep us at bay from Iraq, or to bring us close to the brink of an Iraq!
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."