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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid