Friday, September 29, 2006

Report from Beirut

Here is Marion's latest thoughts on the situation in her homeland of Lebanon. I apologize to Marion for taking so long to get it up on the blog as she sent it to me over a week ago. After moving house a couple of weekends back I haven't had any internet access at home and have been very busy at work - including trips to Brussels and London (which I might try and write something about soonish) - so my apologies once again!

A month has passed since the Israeli war on Lebanon stopped. All we see and hear on the news are UN troops arriving to Lebanon from European countries and the further deployment of the Lebanese army in the southern villages.

Internally, it has been a complete chaos between the different forces in the country. Hassan Nassrallah and his allies have been verbally attacking the government via the media, accusing them of being an ally to Israel and demanding that it resigns allowing a new government to be formed where Hizaballah and its allies will have more seats in order to have more power over decision making. From its side the government is promising not to quit and is not commenting on Hizballah’s accusations.

To make things even worse the report of Serge Brammertz, the Belgium prosecutor investigating for the UN the assassination of our former prime minister Hariri in February 2005, will be out end of this month. A lot of rumors have already been circulating that the Syrian president Bashar al Assad along with the Lebanese current president Emile Lahoud will be directly blamed for the planning and assassination of Hariri.

In the middle of all this chaos, Lebanese citizens barely were able to digest this ugly war, that the struggles inside the political forces have made the citizens’ lives more stressful. Yet, they are trying to rebuild again and move on with their lives and try to put the terrible war behind them. It is only in last weeks or so that the country has started to be a little more lively. I see people in shopping malls now, and the coffee shops and restaurants are filled again with people. Work has progressed everywhere, though slowly. But better than no progress at all. The people who fled the country during the war have returned in order to prepare for their kids’ new year at school. However, in the middle of all this progress, Lebanese are still fearful. Hizballah still has its arms, though it lost some to the Lebanese army when they were inspecting the southern villages.

The refugees have now all left the schools and gardens and places they went to during the war. Some of them went back to check their homes and repair any damage. Others who found that their homes had completely vanished as if they never existed in the first place, are now living with relatives or friends until they are given money from the government in order to rent houses or rebuild again. Until now the government is still getting help from many countries around the world for this purpose.

That is Lebanon’s situation currently. No one is sure what will happen. Will we reach the safe grounds of a peace with Israel and Hizballah surrendering its arms? Or will we be once again the pitch upon which other countries play out their violent games? The country is standing on the edge of an unknown destiny.

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