Saturday, July 15, 2006

Beirut, July 13, 2006

When the trouble started yesterday, I don't think I thought it would be quite as bad as the largest Israeli offensive on Lebanon since 1982. Sometime in the afternoon yesterday, power went out in the building in Hamra in west Beirut where I live. In the evening I was reading in flickering candle light; annoying, but quite doable. Around 11 pm, I could hear reoccuring explosions in the distance, almost like intensive fireworks. I sat out on my balcony looking out into the night. Most buildings around me seemed to have their own generators, and with a certain amount of jealousy I saw people move about in their electricty-lit homes without much troulbe, while I was sitting in complete darkness on my balcony.

It was a beautiful night, I could see lots of stars, but I probably would have seen more if it weren't for the almost full moon. But there is something eerie about a modern apartment with no electricity, they are somehow designed with that commodity in mind. That the explosions I heard were from Lebanese anti-aircraft guns I knew full well from the start.

When I woke up this morning I understood that more had happened than just the bombings in the south. All the text messages from family and friends in Sweden made me suspect big headlines in Swedish media. Once I arrived on campus and could go online I understood why: Israel had bombed Beirut International Airport. It is a bizarre feeling to see the runway I landed on less than a week ago explode on TV.

So much has happened in the two and a half years that have passed since I visited Beirut last. There is less chaos, downtown is truly alive, the entire area surrounding Place de Martyr has been revived and even Hamra now has walkable sidewalks! The other night I was at St. George Yacht Club watchin the World Cup final between France and Italy. They had a big screen TV set up with the Mediterranean as a backdrop. On one side of the TV, I could see the beautiful Lebanese mountains, on the other side the ruins of the buildings that collapsed when Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated last year along with twenty other human beings. A typical Beiruti scene, I though, normal activities such as a World Cup final is juxtaposed with abnormal activities such as a violent political assassination.

12 Comments:

Blogger Shabber said...

What is your reading about the level of support for hizballah and its military strength at the moment? Have you heard anything from the people.

Thanks

Shabber

shabber_abbas@hotmail.com

9:57 AM  
Blogger Shabber said...

hat is your reading about the level of support for hizballah and its military strength at the moment? Have you heard anything from the people.

Thanks

Shabber

shabber_abbas@hotmail.com

9:57 AM  
Blogger Hardig said...

Shabber,

It's really difficult to get a good read of the situation when it comes to the support for Hizballah. First of all, who are "the people"? Whose opinion should I deem as representative of "the people"? AUB students hardly represent the people, but then neither does the villager in the south.

The thing is, at times like these, when the entire country is under attack, there is a sense of pride in that at least someone is fighting back. But, at the same time, people are worried, and I detect a certain level of weariness with Hizballah rhetoric from many different quarters. Sort of a "Khalas, we know the battle can't be won" attitude. As usual in the Middle East politics, there is no black or white, only various shades of grey. Sorry if that doesn't help you at all!

11:39 AM  
Blogger PostGlobal said...

We are trying to feature diverse voices from Lebanon for our blog. We want to give readers a sense of what it feels like to be on the ground in Lebanon. Could you contact me by email if interested. Here is the site: blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal.

Thank you and best regards, PostGlobal

postglobal@washingtonpost.com

10:51 AM  
Blogger PostGlobal said...

We are trying to feature diverse voices from Lebanon for our blog. We want to give readers a sense of what it feels like to be on the ground in Lebanon. Could you contact me by email if interested. Here is the site: blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal.

Thank you and best regards, PostGlobal

postglobal[at]washingtonpost.com

10:51 AM  
Blogger Abe Bird said...

Israel has no intention to harm Lebanon or to overthrow the Lebanese government. Israel want Lebanon to be free and democracy and not let the Nasserallah personal military to fix and influence the Lebanese agenda and still attacking Israel each time Syria or Iran need to blow up the peace and silence. No country would have sat quite when a legal terror organization acts against her. As a matter of fact the Hizbullah acts against both countries interests.

I think now there is no other choice but to understand that the Hizbullah have to turn away its rockets and bombs and be ONLY political party and leave southern Lebanon/ If Hizbullah leaders want to keep run their party they have to act legally as all other political parties.

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