Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay, an upscale waterfront property just below the towering Four Seasons hotel, is a wonderful place to people watch and enjoy the breeze from the sea. Yachts from all over the world park there enjoying the beauty of Lebanon and the glowing sunshine. On my way out of this heavenly enclave, I see young men from the Gulf joy riding in an imported red Ferrari. All of this lavish wealth shelters those who would like to ignore what is happening just miles away.
If you don’t pay attention, you can miss the nervous energy beneath the surface of it all. Lebanese worry that the conflict in Syria will continue to spill over onto Lebanese soil. They worry about their sovereignty, their politicians motivation, or lack thereof, to protect the people of Lebanon instead of incessantly bowing to outside influence – Syria or otherwise. No one wants more war.
As the battle between Syrian militias and its government continues, the people of Lebanon are helpless. Weapons pass though the borders. Militias are reportedly training deep in the Bekaa Valley. There are divisions between those who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and those who abhor him. Although the government has claimed neutrality, the people believe otherwise. Lebanese lawmakers do little to shore up their internal policy so the people feel more secure.
Sources say that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United States and its European allies are funding the Syrian militias while Iran and Russia support the existing regime. China and Israel are watching somewhat quietly on the side. Fighters, funds and munitions are thought to be coming from them all.
Lebanon is caught, a country trapped in the middle of many stakeholders and deadly regimes seeking endless power. It is no small feat that this tiny country has survived. Civil war, internal alliances and religious struggles, bombardments, invasion and occupation by Israel, and delusional ideas of ownership by its neighboring Syria, Lebanon has seen it all.
Martyrs' Square in Beirut, 1982 (James Case)
And in a world that is obsessed with war, it can control little. This is just one of many tiny countries carelessly used as pawns by powerful players. Makes you wonder if anyone can really be free to decide their own destiny. To build a civil society, the intention of this thing labeled the “Arab Spring.”
Probably not. Unfortunately for countries like Lebanon the powerful care little about the consequences of their thoughtless actions. You’d think that after so many failed attempts at regime change these global powers would learn.
The truth is that no learning has happened. Weapons flow in from all ends ensuring that the insurgents fight the regimes and the regimes fights the insurgents – all parties are responsible for the massacres, the death, and the torture of men, women and children.
In the U.S., there is no shame. Warmongers John McCain and Joe Lieberman are leading a group of congressional Republicans calling for more arms shipments to Syrian rebels from the U.S.. They also want U.S. warplanes to provide air support to those forces. Simultaneously they admonish Russia for providing weapons to the other side. Murder, death, kill. Does it really matter who is provoking it? Shouldn’t it instead matter whose preventing it?
Syria and Lebanon are proxies, caught in a global Middle Eastern gamble gone awry. They are in the midst of a dangerous game in a region where too many players are vying for control.
Governments are certainly apt at causing death through organized chaos by selling weapons, but they are truly unable to understand how to find an alternative approach to starting or ending war. Relationships, diplomacy, negotiations, or merely talking have been sacrificed for intervention by force.
There is no humanitarian aid. Those caught in the crossfire plead for help but receive none. Their lives matter not in a nonsensical struggle for supremacy. This escalating global policy of hegemonic competition in order to influence and brutally control must stop. It has wasted time, energy, money, and lives. As we all stand by watching, allowing the continued massacres by those who fuel violence from all sides, we are slowly and completely losing our souls.
The only answer is to shun the weapons and the violence. Or is the addiction too strong, making the current peace in Lebanon, or anywhere, one that will not be the world’s fate?
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