Last updated: May 9, 2008
June 15, 2007
I grew up in a country that had sacrificed 20 million people to win a war against the Germans. At the time 20 million was one out of every ten people. One former Soviet republic has lost 25% percent of its population in a vicious guerrilla resistance. Completely occupied by the Germans, hundreds of thousands of the Belorus were either killed fighting the German army or in reprisals on towns and villages. Many would say that it's history now and it was a long time ago, yet no more than a decade ago in a war between Russia and Chechen separatists, 100,000 Chechens out of one million died. The insurgents inflicted on the Russian army casualties that are estimated to be in thousands and by some estimates even exceed 10,000 Russian soldiers dead and the fighting is still going on.
Last year alone between 30,000 to 60,000 people died in Iraq whose population is several times less than the combined population of Israel, Egypt and Syria and others who fought their wars here over the period of 60 years. And the fighting spirit of Iraqis appears undented. It is in Iraq where martial races live who demonstrate their determination and single mindedness of purpose in the super violent Sunni insurgency and the yearly pilgrimages by Shias to Karballah when hundreds of thousands flock to the sacred city defying on the way multiple suicide and truck bomb attacks that can kill hundreds in one single day.
Israelis and Arabs like to mourn their dead. The way the Israelis talk about their casualties can make one think that Israel is living through one unending Stalingrad. Yet a careful look at the casualties of the Israeli Arab conflict reveals a surprising picture. The total number of casualties on both sides is estimated at around 60,000. And with the Israeli casualties below 20,000, the majority of them happened in the first half of the conflict. Which means in the last 30 years probably ten times more Israelis died in traffic accidents than in wars. Never mind those who succumbed to the old age. The passion for peace making on the grounds of saving lives and preventing sorrow, displayed by many Israelis, conflicts with the obvious fact that for Israel a failed peace can produce far more casualties than all Israeli wars of the last 20 years together.
Watching the latest mess in Gaza it's hard not to be impressed by the fact that with less than 200 dead, the Gaza strip has changed hands almost overnight and the 40,000 strong Fatah security services and police have evaporated into thin air. The inevitable conclusion is that this region is part of the Levant and wars here are fought on both sides by cultures shaped by corruption, cheap opportunism and general hedonistic orientation to life. The spirit of self sacrifice, however much proclaimed in public, has remained only skin deep until now. There are no martial races here.
That's why the relentless Hamas onslaught on Fatah installations in Gaza was refreshingly new and worrying at the same time. The same goes about the ferocious resistance put up by the Fatah al-Islam in Nahr el-Bared that after three weeks of fighting is still refusing to succumb to the Lebanese Army. Seems like new animals came to forest. The wars of this year, whether in Gaza and South Lebanon, or Nahr el-Bared camp in Tripoli, look as if traditional armies of the region, Jewish and Arab alike, are facing new enemies whose reactionary and fanatical agendas are matched only by their willpower of steel and their unwavering determination to win. For the region used to wars whose outcome is determined by a few hundreds or thousands dead, these are bad news.
June 21, 2007
The Lebs have got another camp that seems to be at the point of explosion. Their biggest one.
Nahr el-Bared . . . (Thanks, Ellie)
And from the Fatah al-Islam side . . .
June 22, 2007
Lebanon's defense minister declared victory in Nahr el-Bared. Yet he cautioned his co-patriots, and very wisely I should say, that more troubles may lay ahead:
"Is there al-Qaida in Lebanon? Yes. Are there terrorist organizations? Yes. More explosions? Possible. Assassinations? Possible."
. . .
. . .
. . . I'll be back !!!"
September 28, 2007
The Lebanese army has allowed reporters into a part of Nahr el-Bared camp cleared from mines and explosive devices. Our little Dresden seems to be finally secure and doing just fine.
May 9, 2008
Charles is providing regular updates from Beirut if you are interested. He's stranded in Hamra unable to leave and by now this neighborhood, just as many others, has been taken over by the opposition. And this brings me to the main subject of this post: news agencies report that in three days and with 30 something dead and wounded the entire Muslim section of the city fell into the Shi'ite hands. As far as I can remember never in its history has our region fallen that low.
In the good old days one could hardly do a descent shopping in Beirut without shooting dead at least a dozen of people on the way. Now it's barely 30 dead and wounded and an entire city changes hands. What is this shit? This is not even Gaza !!! At least Hamas and Fatah supporters spent a few days doing some real stuff like dynamiting buildings, shooting kneecaps out from behind to each other supporters and throwing each other from towers. By all standards what we are seeing these days in Beirut is the ultimate disgrace.
What's next? Once any tourist who dared to show his face in the Middle East would have been immediately kidnapped and beheaded. At the minimum mutilated. Once... but no longer. And if it keeps going this way we will soon get a new kind of tourism here with people from all around the world streaming to epicenters of our regional conflicts to be entertained by our symbolic street battles and mini-wars. Just imagine whole families with children booking tables in restaurants along main avenues of Beirut and Baghdad in anticipation of new clashes between Sunni and Shia gunmen.
I can only hope that people of the region will come back to their senses and save us from this disgrace lest we become a joke in the eyes of nations of the world. Otherwise the fearsome reputation won for all of us by the selfless efforts of countless generations of our extremists, suicide bombers and other psychos will be compromised irreparably.
All I can say right now: Shame on you! Shame on me! Ashamed to be a Middle Easterner!!!
Where are you, ya crazy Sunnis?
Back to HappyArabNews