A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the 80s are back: Civil War geography in Beirut

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 17, 2008

Last night H, C and I went for a lovely, flavor-filled dinner at – where else? – Monks. We left around 9:45, heading back towards Ras Beirut via Bishara al-Khoury and the Basta road.

We weren’t the only ones out last night, but we were the only ones not pumped up with testosterone and aggression and/or wearing army uniforms. The swarming mass of fighting shabab and ring of soldiers was difficult to miss.

Fi action tonight, H said as we all turned our heads left to get a better view. It was a strange sight – to me it looked no more impressive than a scuffle in the parking lot after a high school football game. But the soldiers were taking it seriously – and trying not to get involved. I saw two soldiers pull their fellows back when the latter tried to intervene.

If the Army is afraid to intervene when 20 year olds are fighting with their fists, I understand why it did nothing on Thursday when we heard the machine guns.

We drove cautiously along the road towards Bishara al Khoury, until we heard the distinctive sound of rock hitting Army helmet.

Enough spectating, H said, hitting the gas. We’re getting out of here. I saw the look on that soldier’s face, and I don’t think we want to be here any longer.

It was a rough night in Beirut – not in terms of shooting (I didn’t hear any gunfire, surprisingly enough) but in terms of the number of hot little fights that erupted in the border areas of the city’s many neighborhoods.

You know, C said to me as we waited in the car a bit later, this is all just entertainment for a bunch of unemployed guys with time on their hands.

I think that’s true, but I wonder: at what point does the entertainment get serious – or at what point does it become more fun to fight with real weapons?

And what I also wonder is why the Lebanese media are egging them on. Today’s Naharnet article says:

West Beirut clashes wound 20 people amid mounting tension

West Beirut? Geographically, we were nowhere near the west side of town. We were one block from Sodeco – in what I consider Achrafieh.

Where we were can only be called “West Beirut” if the reference point is the Civil War. Then yes, technically what we saw took place in West Beirut – except for the rock throwing, which took place on the East Beirut side of the Green Line.

Green Line geography, Naharnet? Did your writers miss the 1980s that much?

(Naharnet is the English and Arabic language news site for An Nahar, a mildly right-wing, storied Lebanese newspaper. I check it for news updates, but its headlines are usually more slanted than the paper’s.)

2 Responses to “the 80s are back: Civil War geography in Beirut”

  1. Yeah, the usage of old terms like East and West is not really promising. Hope you enjoyed the food, though. Monks is a great place.

  2. intlxpatr said

    Sweetie, think it might be time to come visit khaltich!

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