In Tripoli, Citizens are to Blame Too

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.

→ Respond to this post On Twitter
  • Ymn

    Well said, indeed.

  • Nur Arab

    First I would like to thank you for sharing my poster..
    I really want to believe that the first reason why the people in Tabbeneh and Jabal Mohsen are “accepting” to fight each other is poverty. Then come all the other reasons that take advantage of the first one.
    I also want to believe, that the hate they have, is relative to the opinion of the politicians they’re following,when better people are taking the lead, things will be better until they decide to build their own opinions.
    When you blame the one looking at the poster, you are giving him a personal stimulus and showing him how weak he is, and how strong he could be when he decides to change, regardless of the effective interventions you noted above.
    The situation is bad, but we don’t want to make it worse, and it takes time.
    Loved the blog, thanks again,
    Peace to all,

    • romeo

      Nice poster Nur. These are the things that the Lebanese diaspora misses due to distance. Glad Mustapha decided to share. We need courageous people who tell the truth, no matter how hard it is.

  • rubber ducky

    excellent post man, and i’m a person who is largely critical of your political attitudes. there is complete hatred of alawis (i am not saying they are the victims) in tripoli. no one sees them as real tripolitans and people in tripoli would rather like it that the earth would swallow them all together. I don’t see any genuine brotherhood happening anytime soon between the majority and this minority, save for a fringe minority of secular, liberal and left-minded tripolitans who can see all this rationally (e.g. former clientele of dunkin donuts on mina street). One simple and technical solution, if somewhat a temporary one) would be the army deploying there permanently with serious disarming of the city. at least that way, those who like this kind of thing would fight it out with melee weapons.

  • Dania

    this applies to the entire country not only Tripoli. Not forgetting the poor conditions in which the ppl live in adds to the problem. 6 months from now they’ll go and elect the same idiots all over again.

  • OldHand

    Good one Mustafa, indeed where are the citizens, the press, the NGOs?

    Where the hell is the gvmnt and the army (other than doing joke “deployments”)?

    After a horrible civil war and its 100,000 dead , and seeing what’s happening in Syria right now, the governemnt still cannot USE (not deploy) the army and shut EVERYBODY up in the street with DEADLY FORCE without begging for political cover from thugs???

    If they can’t do that without countless useless “contacts”, and in the name of the country’s and the people’s safety, then NOTHING will ever work.

    Balad ta3eeeeeesssss!!!!