I have been reading and hearing about how the inter-sectarian violence in Iraq could spill-over across the region, but specifically into Lebanon since the bombing of the Sammarra Mosque a year or two ago. Two more recent events have raised the prominence of those warnings:
- the rally organized in response to the murder of Piere Gemeyel - and subsequent response by supporters of Hizballah.
- the massacre of Iraqi Shi'as, the subsequent retribution on Sunnis and the subsequent spiral of violence (which is still going on as I type up this post).
With regards to the first event, I hold the Lebanese political elite responsible for any sectarian fall-out that results from the rally, as well as other political shenanigans they pull to achieve their objectives. On that note, some commentators mock the purported low turn-out to the rally on Thursday. The figure cited is 200,000 as opposed to a million, which was estimated by some to be the turn-out of the first such protest.
If true, I see this development as hopeful. It symbolizes that the Lebanese people see where their leaders are headed, and they refuse to go there willingly. Furthermore, among those who did attend, I wonder how many actually did so to protest violence and political assassinations as opposed to, say, express support for the March 14 political grouping and their policies.
Several protesters photographed during the rally, for example, carried posters with slogans such as “Lebanon means Life,” and “Shove your civil war." These messages and others like them support the hypothesis that at least a minority of the rally attendees went down primarily to express their nervousness about the perceived prospect of violence.
I hope those who gave speeches on that day took note of both those messages (i.e. the lower turn-out, as well as the posters).
In fact, and on that note, allow me to suggest that had we had our own elections last week, or even today, I am certain the results would have been as dramatic as the results of the American midterm elections. This is not to say that former March 14 voters would have voted for Hizballah. Rather, they would have voted for alternatives if they could have, or just stayed home. Again… their message: “We do not support where you're taking the country. We don't want war.”
As for the second event I listed in the beginning of this entry (the Iraqi massacres), again, I turn my attention to the Lebanese people; however, in this case, my assessment of their behavior is much less flattering. It baffles me... it really baffles me to hear a Lebanese shi'ite or sunni get the urge to harm their compatriot just because some idiots in Iraq have decided that they're going to kill each other. Their line of thinking goes like this:
I'm going to go abuse or kill my neighbor and make my life much more miserable in the process just because people I have never even met before (or ever will meet in my life) are brutally killing each other thousands of miles away.
This type of thinking (if it can be called as such) emanates from God knows the fuck where. Maybe men's penises. Therefore, I’ll take this opportunity to convey a message to my Lebanese compatriots courtesy of Robin Williams: “God gave men a brain and a penis, with only enough blood to work one at a time.” Please make good use of these words of wisdom. I know they may be vulgar, and said by a perpetual drunk (despite his denials). However, their vulgarity merely reflects a different form of vulgarity that emanates from the “thinking” I cited above.
On a more serious note though, I reiterate what I’ve said before on this blog: the solution lies in a capable Lebanese state. A state that absolutely monopolizes the use of force. A state that takes exclusively Lebanese interests to heart as defined by the Lebanese people. A state that does not fight others’ battles on Lebanese soil. A state guided by the desire of all Lebanese to live comfortable and prosperous lives.
Yes, I know… a bit obvious and tacky, but I need to join those Lebanese who did not attend the rally on Thursday as well as those who attended, but did so with their own messages, and express it anyhow.