"No Forum for the Lebanese People"

US Perceptions from Lebanon, 1945-1947

by Irene Gendzier
published in MER162

Forty years of history and the issues appear to be remarkably the same: national identity, the confessional system, electoral reform, the viability of the state, economic reconstruction and ideological realignment. What is Lebanon? Does it exist? Can it survive? The questions are not new. More than four decades ago, British and US officials were pondering the very same questions.

World War II was over. Lebanon celebrated its formal independence on December 22, 1943, but it was not until 1946 that the French were persuaded to abandon their occupation of the country. In the interim, French pressure to hold on to its privileged status led to conflict not only with Lebanese nationalists but with British forces.

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'Akkar Before the Civil War

Lebanon's Gateway to Syria

by Michael Gilsenan
published in MER162

The plain and mountains of the ‘Akkar are the northernmost part of the Lebanon, beyond Tripoli and the Koura region to its south and east. Partly because of the insistence of some influential Maronites, and with misgivings on the part of only a few French critics at the time, it was included in le Grand Liban in 1920 by the French League of Nations Mandate authorities, along with the Bekaa Valley and what is now south Lebanon. ‘Akkar’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population (in one of the most thinly inhabited areas of the country) led some to fear that its incorporation would lead to later problems of confessional balance since it was also the hinterland of the Sunni and nationalist city of Tripoli, whatever its advantages as a granary.

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Class Formation in a Civil War

The Druze of Mount Lebanon

by Nazih Richani
published in MER162

The state is the cohesive factor in a social formation. But what happens to the social formation where the state disintegrates? This is not a mere polemical question if we consider the Lebanese experience.

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It Was Beirut, All Over Again

by Etel Adnan
published in MER162

It was Beirut, all over again,
it was Beirut on the radio
El Salvador on TV
it was Sabra & Shatila
in the memory
it was Usulutan in the heart

It was Beirut, again,
when we thought Beirut went
to rest, but Beirut will not sleep
until El Salvador sleeps
and San Francisco will
not eat
until Eritrea eats
and El Salvador
will not die

It was Beirut all over again
in Managua, in Antigua,
in the shantytowns of
wherever the radio blares its
and I mean everywhere
in this electronic age
and the caveman suffers
in the belly of El Salvador

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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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.

Tripoli's Troubles to Come

by Maren Milligan | published August 13, 2012

Tripoli is the epicenter of a high-stakes conflict unfolding in Lebanon. In 2012 alone, armed clashes have erupted six times, in mid-February, thrice in May, again in early June and most recently in late July, between Sunnis and ‘Alawis there. The firefights in Lebanon’s second city, a port town of some 500,000 on a head of land jutting from the northern coast, have added to fears stoked by the proximity of the increasingly lethal civil war in Syria. The three days of battles in May left 11 dead; the July skirmishes took two more lives, and have put the population on edge.

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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