War in the City

by Ahmad Beydoun
published in MER162

Nothing stays new for long in the torpor of Beirut, where everything is worn out by so much violence. If the word “ruin” suggests a comparison with the remains of ancient Tyre or Pompeii, it shouldn’t be used to describe Beirut, not even the blasted remains of the central city. The age and monumental character of the ancient ruins exclude human presence, and we view them from the distance of time, but the decay of Beirut is happening right before our eyes.

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"Everyone Misunderstood the Depth of the Movement Identifying with Aoun"

by Joe Stork
published in MER162

Mansour Raad is the pen name of an Arab journalist who recently left Beirut and has followed the Lebanese war closely. Joe Stork spoke with him in Europe in late November 1989.

Who is Gen. Aoun and what does his “war of liberation” represent?

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Confessional Lines

by Fawwaz Traboulsi
published in MER162

Gen. Michel Aoun’s “war of liberation,” and the Syrian army’s obliging response, has left another thousand killed, thousands more injured, a third of the population transformed into refugees and the worst destruction and damage the country has suffered since 1975. Aoun tried to “convince” his Muslim compatriots to liberate themselves from “Syrian occupation” by pounding heavy Iraqi-furnished shells upon their heads. His frank “populist” language, proclaiming loudly what many Lebanese from all confessions think to themselves, at first brought him overwhelming sympathy.

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The Militia Phenomenon

by Salim Nasr
published in MER162

Even after 15 years, the Lebanese conflict has never taken the form of mass communal violence, of ethnic riots and massacres. There are no cases where the population of one neighborhood raided another, looting and killing. Exactly the reverse: Groups have found shelter from the fighting among other groups. In Lebanon, the militias caused the violence, random and otherwise, among the population. At any point in the conflict the number of fighters participating in all the different militias never exceeded 30,000. Over the 15 years, at one time or another, maybe 90,000 or 100,000 out of a population of 3 million were ever part of this. So 80 percent of the population has not participated actively in the conflict.

Lebanon's War

Is the End in Sight?

by Salim Nasr
published in MER162

Most of the already very large literature on the Lebanese conflict has focused on the etiology of Lebanon’s civil strife: its roots, causes, origins, antecedents and facilitating factors; its inherent or contingent characteristics. And, as one might expect, many conflicting readings and interpretations have been offered to answer the controversial question of the origins of the Lebanese conflict.

Much less has been written (except descriptions and reports) on the process of the conflict, on the dynamics of factors and forces that have come to constitute a conflict system that reproduces itself, generating its own economic sphere and social strata and an ideology of discord to justify and legitimize its continuation.

The Local Politics of the Lebanese Disappeared

by Roschanack Shaery
published in MER262

The Syrian presence in Lebanon was visible and audible to all, from the large numbers of Syrian construction workers to the peddlers selling the latest music CDs on the sidewalks to the military checkpoints in the mountains. In shared taxis there was often talk about which Lebanese politician had just returned from Syria, along with parodies of Syrian Arabic dialect and jokes about Lebanese men going to Syria for what they called a bicycle ride -- a visit to a prostitute. A parallel social hierarchy separated those who could use the military lane to cross the border into Syria and those who had to wait sometimes long hours in regular lanes.

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Cooke, War's Other Voices

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER168

Miriam Cooke, War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War (Cambridge, 1988).

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Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Shooting Film and Crying

by Ursula Lindsey | published March 2009

Waltz with Bashir (2008) opens with a strange and powerful image: a pack of ferocious dogs running headlong through the streets of Tel Aviv, overturning tables and terrifying pedestrians, converging beneath a building’s window to growl at a man standing there. It turns out that this man, Boaz, is an old friend of Ari Folman, the film’s director and protagonist. Like Folman, he was a teenager in the Israeli army during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And the pack of menacing dogs is his recurring nightmare, a nightly vision he links to the many village guard dogs he shot -- so they wouldn’t raise the alarm -- as his platoon made its way through southern Lebanon.

Does International Justice Have a Local Address?

Lessons from the Belgian Experiment

by Laurie King-Irani
published in MER229

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