April 07, 2005
Life on the Back Burner
The newspaper wants me to write a story about the current situation, but there isn’t much to tell. It seems like everything has been put on hold until the May second parliamentary elections. The Hariri list will have to be revised, as there no longer is a Mister Hariri, although it wouldn’t surprise me if his son Bahaa will jump in his father’s footsteps. He’s currently abroad (due to death threats it is said). But not much is happening. The head of the Military Intelligence ‘suddenly’ decided to go on a month long holiday, and he’s been gone now for a week. The judge that was heading the investigation already resigned quite some time ago. The government says now it is willing to cooperate with a UN investigation, but there is little left to investigate. If anyone is interested, I do have a piece of an exploded car in my possession; found it on the street near the site when I had to write a story about the explosion. So life is been put on the back burner, you can put it as literally as that. In West-Beirut there are frequent army checkpoints, and anyone driving a car with tinted windows (previously a trade mark for Syrian secret service people) is taken aside, frisked, and their car papers are confiscated. In East Beirut I understand it is the civilians that have set up their checkpoints to check other civilians, but we all understand they are looking for Syrian/pro-Syrian people, as they say the police is not doing their job adequately. I understand they are being upset for being targeted in this bombing campaign (four so far and I’m sure there will be more to come), but this is very much like the civil war, I must say, with neighborhood militias taken care of their ‘own’. The army has cracked down on this, but it’s quite interesting to see that the network is already in place. And although now the reason are different, the sides and the suspicion are very similar. This is how it started in ‘75, with Christian militias ‘taking care’ of business (By executing a number of Palestinians that happened to drive through their neighborhood on their way to somewhere else). Hopefully the elections will bring a change in government, because it seems clear (to me at least) that all this is provoked by the Lebanese government itself, who are taking their orders still from the Syrians. They may be retreating, and the whole bunch is supposed to be out by the end of April, but there is no way you can check their intelligence service. Many Lebanese are working for them, so they are going to keep a very fat finger in the Lebanese porridge for a long time to come. Even if the opposition will win, they just do not have the means to cleanse the Syrian intelligence apparatus out of their system.