News / Middle East

    Lebanon Remembers 35th Anniversary of Civil War Outbreak

    Lebanon's civil war broke out 35 years ago Tuesday, after a Palestinian school bus was fired upon by Lebanese Christian militiamen. The anniversary comes amid increasing tensions between Lebanon's Hezbollah and the governing March 14 coalition over Hezbollah's arms, allegedly being furnished by neighboring Syria.

    Some lit candles in parts of Beirut to honor the estimated 200,000 people killed during Lebanon's bloody 15-year civil war. Fighting erupted 35 years ago, Tuesday, when Christian gunmen ambushed a Palestinian school bus.

    Rival militiamen tore up much of Beirut, over years of street-battles and shelling, leaving the city scarred and divided. A final frenzy of fighting in 1989 resulted in an Arab-brokered peace agreement which brought the long ordeal to a close.

    Paul Haidostian, who is president of Beirut's Haigazian University says that the anniversary of the war causes him to relive some sad and bitter memories.

    "Every time I think about the civil war, I relive some of the saddest stories and I remember as a teenager, even, I used to say to myself: if only the world hears about this, someone will stop this carnage and aggression. But, then, when I grew up, I learned that even if people know about this in the world, people are quite insensitive and feel powerless in relation to stopping wars and tension," he said.

    Despite the memories which people of his generation still carry with them, Haidostian argues optimistically that the younger generation has recovered for the most part and created a totally different world.

    "Lebanon and the young generation has moved on, really. We've had alternative experiences, said Haidostian. "Being together and forgetting about the past, and so on, but once in a while, we realize that sometimes people have a nostalgia for the past, and part of the past is war. So, something comes up and people remember and once in a while we feel again that Lebanon is also a fragile country."

    Beirut's An Nahar newspaper, whose front pages were once filled with gruesome scenes of explosions, rubble, carnage and fighting, paused to remember  Tuesday with the headline: "35 Years Ago, Today: Peace Among Us, Or Peace Be To Lebanon."

    That peace remains fragile, especially with the often angry complaints by members of the March 14 parliamentary majority that the pro-Syrian Hezbollah is a "state-within-a-state."

    Many Lebanese continue to demand that Hezbollah turn over its reportedly large cache of weapons to the government.

    Despite the surface tensions, Timor Goksel, veteran former spokesman of the U.N. peacekeeping force UNIFIL, thinks that the situation in Lebanon is totally different from what it was during the civil war and that it is unlikely another civil war would break out, soon.

    "People forget that when the civil war started, we had a massive military Palestinian presence which had already unsettled the balance in the country," he said. "We don't have an external military force in the country, anymore, and also, the Israeli involvement is not as it was before. Moreover, there is some sort of-not perfect yet-but there is some sort of civic peace that we did not have in those days."

    Goksel also believes that the Lebanese government is much stronger and its security forces more capable of preventing the outbreak of a conflict than they once were. "There is a much more credible army, and the security forces are slowly rebuilding," he says. "It's a totally different ballgame."

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora