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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs