A poster has been making the rounds in Tripoli’s social media (click image above for full poster), blaming the citizens of Tripoli for electing worthless representatives. “You voted for them”, the pointed finger admonishes the reader over a dramatic background of splattered blood and portraits of sinister-looking Tripoli MPs “…You’re the one to blame”.
That’s a good point. But the poster is also right in a way it didn’t intend: the latest events in Tripoli are not only a failure of the political class, but also a failure of civil society and the citizens of Tripoli.
Will you get done with it already?
There are two sides in this battle. On one hand you have the Alawis in Jabal Mohsen who are a minority but who are well armed and well entrenched on a hill overlooking the city. On the other hand, you have ragtag Jihadi Sunnis in Tebbaneh who want to teach the Alawis a lesson as a payback for what their sponsor, Assad, has been doing to his people in Syria.
The common complaint on Twitter and on Facebook is that politicians are not doing their work to stop the violence. Another culprit is the media for ignoring what’s happening in the capital of the north, and a particularly popular soundbite is that Lebanon has forgotten about Tripoli and is behaving as if the city doesn’t exist.
But dig deeper into the attitudes of the city’s citizens and you find that many are secretly rooting for one side to win.
The Sunnis are hoping that the Jihadis (conveniently forgetting that they’re outlaw gunmen) will “liberate” Jabal Mohsen from Assad’s claws. Many are angry because they are feeling like sitting ducks to the missiles falling in on their city from the hill, and angry because it doesn’t feel right that a minority can terrorise the city’s majority in this way.
The Alawis on the other hand believe that they’re fighting an existential battle, a battle that if they lose they will be massacred or expelled from the city. This is why their supporters are secretly hoping that their missiles will prove painful enough for Tripoli to establish permanent deterrence and get the Jihadis off their backs
What people who really want peace do
Here’s what we didn’t see yet in Tripoli: We didn’t see mothers from both sides forming chains at the demarcation lines and setting up tents in protest against the insanity and vowing to stay there until the shooting stops. We didn’t see large rallies where sunnis and Alawis declared together that they’re brothers and they don’t want to take any part of this.
The sad truth is that Tripoli is a divided city. One that is filled with suspicion, anger and hate. We blame the politicians for the war, but it is ultimately our fault.