It seems these days we will keep singing Fairouz’s song “Li Beirut,” which starts with “A greeting from my heart.”
While depicting the city’s atmosphere which changed with civil war, she says the city tastes like fire and smoke. Li Beirut is the song that best describes the atmosphere of the city which has experienced 15 years of civil war, whose every street has been used as a position for militias, which has bullet-riddled buildings, and where assassinations and murders are unaccounted for. Defined as the laboratory of the Middle East, the city has hosted entertainment and fun, as well as conflict and tension at the highest level. The indicators of the regional crisis show that the parties involved will confront here from now on.
Rumors that Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri forcibly resigned, that he is being held hostage in Riyadh, and that he is being tortured indicates Lebanon as the showdown arena between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In Beirut's dynamics, the parties seem to have already prepared for this conflict. I often refer to the book “O Jerusalem!” by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Apart from the Jerusalem issue, the book also elucidates how Beirut became a convenient laboratory against the problems that deepened with the founding of Israel and the occupation of Palestine prior to 1980. The conflicts, civil war, constant change of active forces and invasion of southern Lebanon by Israel that started with the pretext of the Palestine Liberation Organization settlement in Beirut are also an important part of this process. Hezbollah, the Shiite military forces linked to Iran, is the force that ended civil war in Lebanon and saved southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation. The French are the founders of Lebanon's administration and legal system. We cannot say that there is an effective example of this administration model, where the President is Maronite, the Speaker of the Parliament is Shiite, the Prime Minister is Sunni, and members of the Parliament are divided between Christians and Muslims in a ratio of 6:5, elsewhere in the world.
My first visit to Beirut was with a team of journalists. It was when the civil war ended and Israel was removed from southern Lebanon. It was quite difficult to understand regional dynamics. Because the parties allied with each other and then fought against each other periodically. The present did not point to the future.
In my later visits, I also went to the South Lebanon border. This was a border where Hezbollah and Israeli troops were so close that they could look at each other. Israeli forces were so close to the accommodation units that the conversations were audible. Of course, Israel purposefully brought its settlers to the closest point, almost positioning an American town with its people there. The homes of the people of the border village were split, one half there on each side. During the years of occupation, Israel built a prison on a mountaintop and imprisoned many of the region’s people, as well as severely torturing them. I interviewed a young lady, who was imprisoned at the age of 14 and was rescued by Hezbollah forces four years later, in this prison which was later turned into a museum. That’s when I saw that Hezbollah forces were a savior for the region’s people (whether Christian or Sunni Muslim) against Israel.
I went to Lebanon in the following years too… Initially, there were still many bullet marks on the buildings. In the following years, these marks were covered. Beirut was revived and become a center of entertainment. Hariri built a luxury and historical-looking bazaar in the center of Beirut, including the Parliament building. Beirut, which did not have tax and financial follow-up, was also a convenient black hole for financial circles. The marks of lead bullets on buildings had just started to be repaired after 15 years of civil war. The father Hariri, who was shot in an assassination in 2005, played an important role in the repair and reconstruction of Beirut. Let's not forget the Cedar Revolution that took place in Beirut at that time. Let's also note that Hezbollah consolidated its power in the region after the 2006 Israeli attack.
The alarm bells of Beirut, which has been the site of distorted balances between Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Western powers, were sounded by the UAE, Saudi and Israel this time. It is highly likely that Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has taken consecutive steps to accelerate the change of administration, will clash in Beirut.
These developments, which will affect Turkey and Syria too, must be vigilantly watched. Just like the four horsemen of the apocalypse!
God rest his soul
Yesterday marked the 79th death anniversary of Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. We respectfully commemorated a founding leader who opened for us a new path to walk in the corridors of history and who enabled us to reach today, for better or for worse. Some newspapers commemorated Atatürk sincerely, some did it for the sake of duty and some did not mention him at all. But I believe if we want to live in Turkey as a whole, it is beneficial to recall all common values of the country, those who produced them and their memories. Of course, Atatürk is the most important figure to remember. God rest his soul!