03 September 2007

Army Ends “Fateh el Islam”

The siege of Nahr el Bared refugee camp is finally over. The Lebanese Army ended the warfare with the so called “Fateh el Islam” militants after 105 days by killing and capturing its remaining members. It is reported that among the dead is their leader Shaker el Absi. Thousands of Lebanese took to the streets, around the country and especially in the North, to celebrate the army’s victory. It should be noted that the original inhabitants of this refugee camp, around 30,000 Palestinian, were mostly evacuated during the early days of the siege. The militants/terrorists had taken refuge and built bases in the refugee camp before ambushing and killing a number of Lebanese soldiers. Details were mentioned in previous posts at Global Voices. The end of the clashes was the subject for many blog posts. Here are a few of them:

Harryzzz went to the North of Lebanon to check out the celebrations that were taking place in the streets near the camps. He posted many photos and mentioned the shootings taking place because of the jubilation:

And Lebanon wouldn’t be Lebanon if many civilians didn’t run around with their private Kalashnikovs. Sooooo much shooting going on. This time not because of war, but because of celebrations. Man, my ears still hurt from all this firing in the air. That, by the way, doesn’t only proof that the mainly Sunni population in Tripoli knows how to throw a party, it also shows that Shi’a Lebanese aren’t the only ones owning guns in this country.

Jamal’s Propaganda looks (sarcastically) at how opposing political parties will be using the army’s successful campaign to continue their “childish” bickering:

Finally, the military operations stage of the Naher El Bared ordeal is finally over. The politicians are all calling for uncovering the truth behind Fatah El Islam as they all think it will provide them with ammo against their foes. Of course, nothing will come out of these calls as we are in Lebanon where investigations are avoided because they endanger national unity. The only way we can find out who really was behind the funding and nurturing of Fatah El Islam is to resort to Maury Povich. Here I’m picturing Saad, 34, high-fiving the audience and being held back from Wiam, 40 some: “Told you @#$%^ I ain’t their @#$%^ sugar daddy, HO, HO, you @#%%# @$%#^ HO!!”

The army’s victory came at a heavy price according to Ibn Bint Jbeil, namely the death and destruction of the homes of thousands among other things. He also raises the question about who was behind this group which he calls “Fath el Shaytan” which is Arabic for “Fath of the devil”:

The victory of the Lebanese army over the thugs in the Nahr elBared Refugee camp is being celebrated as the most wonderful of victories, because it is seen as a victory that has united the Lebanese. It seems that this victory has brought to the Lebanese and to the Lebanese army a much need boost of confidence and pride. But at what price?

The Devastation of Nahr elBared can only be described as “shock and awe” that makes the hyper-militarist George Bush & Israeli Army look like schoolyard bullies. Some Lebanese would say that it is un-Lebanese or un-patriotic to complain about the destruction, that the army had to do what it had to do. While it was necessary to deal with Fath-el-Shaytan, it was not necessary to destroy the homes of thousands. It is peculiar that the army was cornered into this fight while the truth about the origins of Fath-el-Shaytan and their backers remains undisclosed.

Marxist from Lebanon has articles and updates about the last minutes of the conflict and about the organization of the leader of Fateh el Islam.

Blacksmiths of Lebanon posted two videos of the Nahr el Bared camp today and the celebrations in the streets.

The Nahr el Bared refugee camp will be rebuilt as promised by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora. But Abu Moqawama sees problems on the way to the rebuilding of the camp considering that part of it was built on private land:

The interesting thing now will be how — or if — they rebuild. First off, a lot of what is called “New” Nahr al-Bared was basically built on private land by squatters. Whenever things get destroyed in Lebanon, age-old property deeds start coming out. Abu Muqawama’s guess is that none of that sprawl around the camp is getting rebuilt anytime soon.

The camp proper is another matter. Abu Muqawama wonders what’s going to happen there. It’s basically Stalingrad at the moment. Will the Lebanese government rebuild? If not them, who? Abu Muqawama is thinking of tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians at the moment — with the Lebanese winter three months away. Pity them.

SMS service on mobile phones was used to spread updates of the news as it happened according to Lebanon Update:

The SMS alerts were telling in this respect: first, on Sunday at 9:57 AM a message came through saying that the terrorists were escaping the camp. Later, at 5:27 PM, an SMS stated that the Lebanese army has taken full control of the camp…

And finally Body on the Line reviews what the international and local press had to say about the end of the hostilities.-(globalvoices)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.