Friday, January 21, 2011

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Lebanon: Is A New Civil War Imminent?

Joubran bassilYou don’t need to be a political analyst—and definitely not a clairvoyant—in order to “foretell” that Lebanon is moving into a major political and economic crisis. The reason I say “major” is because this country has been in a never-ending crisis. However, current events have escalated the seriousness of the situation to a point where everybody is afraid of an armed conflict taking place (for a brief overview of the current situation in Lebanon, you can refer to any of these articles: Political chaos in Lebanon ravages economy, instills fearAmid opposition pressure, Hariri not backing downLebanon tightens security as political crisis deepens).

Diplomatic activity in the upcoming few days is key to the avoidance of a civil war. Neither party is showing signs of concession to where the opposing group currently stands. Even more, both parties are using the media as a means to shift public support to their own favor.

Saad al HaririThe propaganda being employed has reached a level of seriousness never experienced before by the Lebanese public. A couple of days ago, New TV, a Lebanese TV channel, aired two extremely controversial reports, intended to expose ex-Prime Minister Hariri (At the end of the article are the YouTube clips of the reports. the first video is an audio recording in English with Arabic subtitles; the second is in only in Arabic).

On the other side, another serious event took place on Tuesday. Non-armed combatant of one of the opposing parties—Hizbullah—swarmed the streets of Beirut in a “show of force” (as The Daily Star calls it) . In just two hours, they were able to assemble in strategic locations and then disperse as quickly as they gathered; their intention was to show the other party that they are willing to use force in case things did not go as they please.

Every day, we watch a press conference by a certain representative of one of the two parties, attacking the opponent “team”. Unfortunately, the political discourse between our politicians has become a mockery. We, as Lebanese citizens, are witnessing the whole Lebanese media being transformed into a virtual battlefield, where the two opposing forces haven’t yet engaged in an actual armed conflict; however, through their use of political propaganda, they are both kicking the hornets’ nest.

So again I tell you, I am not a political analyst nor a fortune teller; however, I am strongly pessimistic when it comes to our political situation. In the end, it makes me sad to say I am almost certain that the current “cold war”, which has been crippling the country for so many years, and which is now being escalated, will soon turn into a real armed confrontation: a new civil war!


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(Image sources: Photo of Joubran Bassil: — Photo of Saad al Hariri:

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