Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Faith in people of Lebanon

February 14, 2007

Faith in people to do the right thing

THE EXPLOSIONS on Tuesday in Bikfaya, a mainly Christian town in the hills north of Beirut, come at a time of acute political tension in Lebanon, and a day before the second anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Even before the blasts, fears were running high that violent clashes could erupt between supporters of the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and opposition activists led by Hizbollah who have been staging a sit-in in the heart of Beirut since Dec.1
Organisers of a mass rally planned in downtown Beirut on Wednesday to mark the Hariri assassination are going ahead with the event. Pro-government activists are accusing Syria for the blasts saying Damascus wants a destabilised Lebanon so that it could exploit the situation for political purposes. However, one fails to see how Syria would want to stir up trouble in Lebanon when it knows well that the slightest slip-up on its part could be disasterous for itself. The US is waiting on the wings for the right opportunity to advance its effort for "regime change" in Damascus, and the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Asad could ill-afford any development that could lead to accusing fingers against Damascus as a force of destabilisation of the region.
The Bikfaya bombings have all halmarks of a deliberate operation designed and timed to trigger sectarian violence, possibly leading to a new civil war in the country, which is yet to recover from the blows it received during the 1975-1992 civil strife pitting sectarian militia forces.
Bikfaya is a Christian town and therefore the immediate assumption is that it could be none other than a Muslim group — Hizbollah is the ideal candidate — which carried out the bombing.
However, it should be noted that Hizbollah has emerged as a strong political force and it has become part and parcel of the political life in Lebanon. It has gained additional strength from last year's 34-day war waged by Israel and this is what emboldened the movement to launch the campaign in December to topple the Siniora government and form a new government where the group and its allies could somehow secure enough clout to call the shots in the country. A civil war in Lebanon would be disastrous for Hizbollah as any other group in the country because it would bring in external forces to play havoc with the situation. With Hizbollah remaining as strong as ever — notwithstanding the setbacks it received as a result of its welcome of the hanging of Saddam Hussein by Iraqi Shiites — and the group would receive the brunt of the political and military impact of the situation sliding into civil war.
Therefore, the perpetrators of Tuesday's boming have to be some quarters which would gain from chaos in Lebanon at the expense of Hizbollah, and the finger would automatically point southwards across the border.
It is the lesson that the Lebanese should learn from the bombings and should refrain themselves from being driven by emotions rather than calculated thinking.
A Lebanese woman cried out after Tuesday's bombing: "I am of neither political party in Lebanon, because I don't really care what is going to happen with seats and titles anymore, like most of the Lebanese population. All we want is to have peace of mind - to be able to go to work, earn a living and live our lives. I only have faith in my fellow Lebanese to stop this, and no one else."
Indeed, the responsibility not to let the situation generate into a revived civil war rests with the people of Lebanon. It is the world's fervent hope that they would live true to the faith — as highlighted by the woman from Bikfaya — that their compatriots have placed in them.