Lebanon’s Security: Nothing to See Here

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A local arms dealer showcases bullets during an exclusive interview in Beirut. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Fidaa Itani

Published Sunday, March 25, 2012

The anxiety some people are experiencing over Lebanon’s security is truly strange. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest that there will be any changes in the current political balance, certainly nothing that would blow our security to pieces and once and for all shatter what little civil peace we still enjoy.

Protests by young Christians from the Phalange Party and the Lebanese Forces against the new history textbook – because it mentions their collaboration with the Israelis during the civil war, while ignoring those who worked with the Syrians – is simply not enough.

These protests, that some wish would be suppressed by the internal security forces and the army, do not show any signs that they might grow into a serious opposition movement.

All they can do is add to the resentment Christians already feel toward the authorities and toward their brethren who share their homeland, the Muslims in general and the Shia in particular.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s calls for a big festival of shelling and destruction similar to the one in Nahr al-Bared, but this time against Ain al-Hilweh, are also not enough to spark chaos in the country.

It is in fact a call for a “surgical” military operation, just like the one in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in 2007, to obliterate Ain al-Hilweh – all in order to arrest one man charged with setting up a jihadi cell in the Lebanese army.

If such a war were to take place, 75,000 Palestinians from this camp would be displaced, with Sidon and the coastal area around it exposed to military operations and shelling – all so that we can fight “terrorism.”

As for what is happening on the border between Lebanon and Syria, there is no indication of any trouble in the near future.

The passage of a few hundred Free Syrian Army fighters in both directions – accompanied by some new members of the al-Nasra Front, which has now been adopted by al-Qaeda – in addition to hundreds of Syrian refugees flooding into Lebanon, will not upset the internal security situation.

Even if some of the fighters want to carry out operations against the Syrian military, prompting Damascus to pursue them and bomb their supply lines in Lebanese territory – all this remains within the framework of the acceptable.

The buying and selling of weapons in the north, the transportation of munitions, the extreme anxiety leaders of the Future movement feel toward the Alawis of Tripoli, even the chaotic construction and the collapse of buildings there – all this will not lead to any cracks in our national security.

These are classic issues which can be contained and surmounted without any harm or damage done including: the rise of the Salafis, the refuge people are seeking in Islam after their great disappointment in the Cedar Revolution, the absence of leader Saad Hariri from the country, the hatred of the other to the point of accusing them of heresy, the calls made on the Internet for Sunnis to arm themselves in preparation for the coming battles, and much more.

All this should not make us worry. It is just a passing phase and will not have any effect on the coexistence of our noble sects.

Jeffrey Feltman’s opinions celebrating the revolutions in the Arab world – particularly his sound opinion on how the Lebanese should take advantage of it by pressing for downfall of Bashar Assad – also will not create any security problems in the future among the Lebanese, who disagree on absolutely everything.

The great division over Syria, with one half of the Lebanese people supporting the Syrian regime and the other supporting its downfall – even if this means the slaughter of half the population of Lebanon – will also have no effect on the country’s tranquility.

All this will not be a problem for the minister of tourism, who is still busy trying to make Lebanon into a tourist’s paradise. Kidnapping for ransom, murders, and burglaries are nothing to worry our heads about, for they are small crimes that have nothing to do with civil peace.

The financial corruption, the lack of regulation over commodities, expired medicines, and other seemingly daily crimes, will not lead to any security disorders.

The union movement, uninterrupted protests against harsh living conditions, deteriorating services – particularly electricity and telephones – mismanagement, and the continuous rise in prices are all definitely just marginal things that can be ignored.

These can all be viewed as natural processes, inescapable, and therefore, there is no need to make a fuss about them.

The conflict between the various security services – even the competition between them – does not change anything.

But mostly, and above everything else, we live in a country whose interior minister is Marwan Charbel. If all the above is not enough to guarantee that security is in hand, then the name of our interior minister and his appearance before us guarantee that the country’s security is under control and that we have no need to worry.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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