Who is Arming Lebanon's Sunnis?

The question March 14 supporters are struggling to agree on an answer to


He must have found it on the street (source)

If you ask a supporter of Hezbollah or March 8 in Lebanon about who is arming Lebanon’s Sunnis, the answer is usually quick and immediate, and it is always the same: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries through Hariri’s Future Movement (FM). But if you grab 5 random March 14 supporters (especially Sunnis) and ask them the same question, you might get as much as 5, hesitant, answers.

Until recently, many Lebanese Sunnis and supporters of the Future Movement lived in a reality in which they were the good guys who didn’t carry guns. Their attitude to armed Sunni fighters (who openly and publicly declared their support for Hariri) was similar to the attitude of Syria’s supporters to the killing of Rafik Hariri: It’s an awkward question that they prefer not to think of an answer to.

But those darned armed Sunnis from Tebbaneh keep showing up on the TV news. And worse, they keep giving interviews, machine-guns in hand, on live prime-time TV. Denial was becoming very difficult and it is time to face the fact that a powerful party, friendly to March 14, is giving money (those are expensive weapons) and political cover (They’re showing their faces on TV and nobody is arresting them) to armed fighters in Tebbaneh and Tarik el Jdideh.

In response to the question: Who is arming Lebanon’s Sunnis? Here are some of the answers you might get:

  • “Their arms are the natural result of Hezbollah’s arms. Weapons beget weapons.”
    This is the official line of March 14 politicians. But that is not answering the question about the source of those arms. It could be a fair answer, but it’s deflecting the question not answering it.
  • “The enemies of the Sunnis who want to destroy their reputation”.
    But that still doesn’t explain why Hariri does not publicly ask Tebbaneh fighters to disarm and give their weapons to the legitimate authorities.
  • “We don’t know”.
    How then to explain the political cover for Tebbane’s fighters?
  • “Israel”.
    OK..

The reason March 14 supporters prefer not to answer that question, and not even think of an answer, is because it will get them face to face with a reality they wish to avoid. That the entire edifice of their political rhetoric, the notion that only legitimate power should have access to weapons, would crumble and take with it their entire sense of political righteousness.

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  • Antidisestablishmentarianism

    ask Mohammed Kabbara and Khaled Dhaher

    • Mustapha

      You seem sure of your answer.. Perhaps you belong to the first camp ;)

  • ali

    Maybe they are arming themselves? Weapons can be bought on the market for the right price. Why does there have to be another Country arming them?

    • Mustapha

      Except the people carrying the weapons are all poor.. No, a powerful and rich source is arming them..

    • hewhoknows

      let me give you an idea of the black market prices in lebanon: an AK-47 kalashnikov used is for 800 USD, + a box of 1000 rounds price range between 1000 USD and 3000 USD. so given these figures I doubt that a guy with a minimum wage, no matter how desperate and crazy would be able to afford that

      • http://theinnercircle.wordpress.com/ theFool

        By these numbers, the price of a life is between 1$ – 3$. Can anyone explain to me how is any Lebanese involved in this “Syrian affair” doing with the gun battles in Tripoli, Lebanon?

        My opinion is… if they have a problem, and their problem is In Syria. They should pack up, and get the f*** out of Lebanon and go fight in Syria. and don’t bother returning.

        What is the real reason, that would get me to pick up arms and kill my neighbour?

        I challenge anyone here to tell me what is the real reason these Beb el-Tebbeneh & Jabal Mohsen armed gang really want? why are they killing each other as the best solution?

  • SF
  • GK

    I really don’t like the question!!! Are you blaming the Sunni for arming themselves? I think that the question should be who is arming the Alawi, SSNP, and Shakir Al-Berjawi in addition to Amal and Hizbullah! By the way, the Druze used the truce with Hizballah to arm and train their people and are ready for a fight! That is why HA is cautious about its relationship with Jumbulat. When the Sunni are armed and can defend itself, then HA will stop threatening!!!

    • jabal a7mal

      you dont real like the question because its the fact and no one is blaming the sunnis for arming themseleves if u are a sunni and u want to arm ur self u can do it no one is stoping u but in other hand dont stand in public and starting the fingers at other people saying they must be disarm after 25 years of fighting our enemy and paying the prize with their life to protect our country their is a say here in the untied kingdom goes like this when you point a finger at someone you are also pione 3 fingers at your self i want to asked you a question can you tell me since the creation of lebanon till no which politician in lebanon secrifies his son at the frontline for the sake of lebanon and after the sahada of his son he order his other son to his late brothers place at the front line i am sure you wont get the answer but i will answer it for you the only politician that did it was sayed hassan nassrallah

  • Dania

    Could it be that its not just one source? And lets not forget that there are palestinian camps in the north, the weapons could’ve come from there also.

  • Bronxman

    Maybe the weapon’s are being offered by those who need contacts in Lebanon to get their shipments into Syria. There are a lot of weapons floating around on our planet and there are a lot of dealers who find it to be a good business. Dealers are happy to sell to both sides in any conflict and the main conflict now is in Syria. So, in answer to “who’s arming the sunnis”, there could be multiple sources – backers of a cause or just those who are in it for the profit.

    • Mathieu Baudier

      Interesting and realistic point.

  • Salma

    Whoever is arming them is not the point. Hariri tried to dissuade his people from carrying arms but after May 7 and other incidents, it became very hard to ask Sunnis not to get arms especially when the authorities treat the arsenal of Hizobllah and his allies as a ‘normal’ thing.
    In Jabal Mohsen they always had arms (heavy and light) and the army does not dare enter the Jabal.

  • http://theinnercircle.wordpress.com/ theFool

    Wherever they’re getting their arms, it’s not doing Lebanese Sunnis justice. In fact the minority of Tripoly seen as fighting Syrian causes (whether for or against Bashar) should not be allowed to speak on behalf the far majority of Lebanese Sunnis.

    In fact those holding arms, are a small, malicious minority.

    Don’t you find it shameful to fight for pro- or anti- Bashar?

    I raised a question on twitter a few days ago, if Anyone knew what these dimwits of Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbeneh were fighting for?

    As in completing this sentence: “You miserable people aught to die because…”?

  • http://www.lifewithsubtitles.com Fadi

    Whether on May 7th or recently those armed Sunnis are proving to be an asset to M14. They are being used to draw out HA into an inner conflict, and then further their argument that the HA weapons are illegitimate and a threat to national stability.

    Flooding the country with weapons then arguing that “all” weapons should be put under the control of the army just might be another one of M14′s strategies to strip away HA’s weapons.

  • JC

    There are surely many sources, but one thing is for sure: Big regional powers don’t want things to be calm in Lebanon.
    Iran from one part wants to assert its hegemony over the shia factions in the region.
    We saw what happened in Bahrein and we see how the Assad regime and Hezbollah are strong enough.

    On another hand, Gulf countries see a threat and an opportunity in Lebanon.
    The opportunity stemming from the Arab Spring where the Muslim Brotherhood is taking over most Arab countries.
    The only missing piece is Lebanon.
    There are reports that KSA, UAE and Qatar are now backing the Lebanese branch of the Brotherhood which is the Jamaa Islamiya because they saw that the Future Movement cannot deliver what they need.

    The threat comes from Lebanon’s strategic geographical location and its highly capable people.
    Lebanon is the only country that could threaten the gulf countries in terms of foreign investments, transit, commerce etc.
    The US and Europe would prefer to settle in a more liberal country like Lebanon instead of KSA, Qatar and UAE.
    So, if Lebanon is in good shape, MOST companies will settle in Lebanon, thus threatening the hegemony of UAE, Qatar, KSA, Kuwait, etc.

    So, to answer your question: Gulf countries

  • Observer

    Who is arming Lebanon’s Sunnis?

    The same people that are arming Syria’s Sunnis.

  • m

    It seems to me that there are two questions: (i) who is providing weapons and (ii) who is providing political cover (so that armed fighters can give interviews with impunity). The latter question is the more important one since the erosion of the government’s monopoly on the use of force is more dangerous than the shooting itself.

  • fadi

    They probably steal a fraction of the arms destined for the FSA.
    Anyway the sunnis must arm themselves. No sunni must be left unnarmed at this point. We don’t need 7 may to happen every year to learn the lesson. We must be able to defend our neighborhoods independently, without depending on anybody.
    No need to have crazy missiles, just enough for self-defence and as a deterrent for Hisbala/amal/ssnp thugs

  • Antidisestablishmentarianism

    some of the comments above are disgusting. the sunnis would be in a much stronger position if they do not arm themselves and remain peaceful and civilized. violence never works, never, it only compounds the problem, even in self-defense it is sometimes better to be killed than to fight back

    • fadi

      “it is sometimes better to be killed than fight back”
      Please kindly elaborate on that

  • GK

    I rather fight back and be killed (self defense) than to be killed doing nothing (cowardly)!

  • Rumi

    Dear Mustapha, I don’t know who is arming them, but like you said the people using them are poor; families in Tebbeneh live with 5,000 L.L a week, and 3 days ago, it was assessed that over a million dollars went up in flames: grenades, bullets, bombs , guns and RPGs…
    But if you ask some of the fighters, they’ll tell that they are buying weapons with their own money, and are selling their furniture and working day and night to do so…

  • WH

    These comments show how miserable and pathetic the Lebanese citizens are.. And Moustafa, if you are asking why! Check the posts coming from people with different ideologies, and you’ll get the answer.

  • m

    Throughout history of mankind there has been only one system of government that brought its citizens peace and prosperity and it works like this: Government has the monopoly on the use of force and this monopoly is controlled through the democratic process. Whoever argues for their own sectarian group to be armed argues for a weak Lebanon riddled by instability and civil war since there is no mechanism to keep these arms in check. Under this model Lebanon’s peace an is at the whim of whoever owns the weapons.

  • Craig

    Again without commenting on Lebanon specifically:

    anonomous: I agree, and that militia is Hezbollah!

    The “militia” is every swinging dick in the country. Allowing only some groups to arm themselves and not others would completely defeat the purpose. A government monopoly on arms would be better than allowing some groups to be armed while insisting others be disarmed.

  • m

    I am not talking about the right to bear arms but about the monopoly on the use of force. That also lies with the government in the US. According to Wikipedia it does not mean “that only the government uses physical coercion, but that the individuals and organizations that can legitimize coercion or adjudicate on its legitimacy are precisely those authorized to do so by the state. So, for example, the law might permit individuals to use physical force in defense of self or property, but in this case, as in the example of private security above, the ability to use force has been granted by the state, and only by the state.”

    • Craig

      That’s a fair point and one I agree with you on, m. Is it your opinion that the people this post is about cannot reasonably claim they are acting in self defense or in defense of their property (which would include real estate aka their neighborhoods)?

  • dude

    Mustapha,
    Asking “who is arming the Sunni’s” is an interesting question to attempt and answer. But, I find the question as to “Why the Sunni’s, are arming themselves, and what are their alternatives” may perhaps go more towards the root cause of this issue rather than the symptom.
    Please keep in mind where there is a Will there is a Way…. 

  • Ali K

    A little bit of money goes a long way. As long as the fight is limited to small weapons, it’s great bang for the buck, pun intended. A hundred guys on each side can make a lot of noise, occasionally hurt somebody, and hold the country hostage. The weapons are easy to get. It’s the same old cold war surplus being recycled over and over.

    This is actually so cheap that it doesn’t even require a whole country to finance it. There are always some rich folks in the gulf who are itching to fund a fight with a vague jihad interpretation. On the other side, those poor folks were used many times before to suppress Tripoli. So nothing new, unfortunately.

  • http://beirutspring.com alex

    in order to judge this situation you need to look at the big picture….lets start with the arab spring…tunisia,libya,bahrain and egypt…..libya was decided ghaddafi had to go by the west…they know and knew his lack of capabilities militarily so it would be easier to get rid of him militarily…but look at it know…sunni killing sunni but that ok the oil is protected….tunisia egypt and bahrain arms free….why was bahrain treated differently than tunisia and egypt(i will get to egypt shortly)why in bahrain where there has been no use of weapons by the opposition saudia arabia was allowed to send in its troops and until now even after bahrain government admitted its shortfalls in amnesty report nothing is said or done? why dosent the west arm the opposition there? are they not defenseless? egypt was a true uprising sparked by the youth however it was hijacked by certain groups…when the youth went to the streets again the elections went on and they lost out…look at the trials its an absolute sham after 30 years mubarak only got charged with the deaths in the protests???? his whole apparatus and regime is still in power and now his ex pm is running for president…his sons were also acquitted? moving onto syria…it was innevitable that it would reach there…assad had no choice but to sit down and speak to the opposition and instigate reforms…however ( and im not defending him im merely making legitimate points of discussion) it dosent seem it was given a chance? all of a sudden gcc are arming rebels,libyans sauidis,qataris,pakis and god knows what else are flooding into the country and what we have here is total anarchy whre it will go down to last man standing? how do expect to overthrow assad when the army is being attacked? if he was to fall tommorrow and the army took over do you think they will let the fallen soldiers deaths go by without revenging them? now that we are in this quagmire what is the rebels ( who by the way seem disjointed and at odds with each other) plan along with the west? it seems to be shaping the same way as iraq? this is being portrayed as a sectarian conflict mereley to prey on the simple minds of the people following….the army is majority sunni…the government is made up of all sects…has there been a thought in place as to alay fears for the christians,sunni,allawites,orthodox,shia,druze etc as to what will happen after? it is no longer a revolution because when your calling for jihad its about killing anyone thats not like you? in regards to lebanon in all this we had our war ifthis is what the syrian people have chosen then they hold responsibility…noone camre to our aid all we had is whats happening in syria now outside paries arming us and after 20 years we realised it wasnt going to get anywhere….problem is in lebanon all the politicians care about is their own egos…and that is our fault because we dont hold our leaders accountable…the level of intelligence in our politicians is a joke..i mean the other day allouch made a comment that the pm is the one causing the problems in tripoli.?what purpose do these comments make and serve…first of all we are quick to jump on the sectarian tune yet we have here 2 sunni politicians from the same city accussing each other…? think about allouch’s comments ..what pm would want turmoil on his watch and further in his own town??? yet people believe this crap…i mean what does allouch want? for mikati to step down and hariri fly back in and be pm? what hariri will only be safe in lebanon if hes pm? point is we dont want a spill over into any part of lebanon…our politicians need to be smarter and we need to make them accountable now more than ever for their actions because in the end it is us that pay the price not them…god bless all