The significance of Hariri’s battle for Beirut
On May 6, Beirut will go through another test to prove that it is still standing up to those who wished to bring it down on May 7, 2008, then moved on to destroy the project of Plato’s “Republic.” Their goal was quite clear: They wanted to topple the Lebanese government to drive a wedge between the components of Lebanese society and usher in another era of misery in Lebanon.
In that context, we need to grasp the meaning of Saad Hariri’s battle for Beirut and its importance for Lebanon and the region. It is the same battle for Lebanon that started with the civil war of 1975. It was no accident that Beirut was left in ruins after that war.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated for his “crimes” of bringing life back to Beirut and of wanting to build bridges between different factions of Lebanese society. Those steps were unforgivable in the eyes of the authors and sponsors of Hariri’s assassination.
At the top of the list of those traitors and assassins are the vengeful Syrian regime, whose hatred for Beirut was beyond belief, and the Iranian regime, which specialises in spreading ignorance and destruction. Just look at what’s going on in Iraqi and Syrian cities and in some Lebanese and Yemeni regions.
On May 6, during the Lebanese general election, Beirut will have another chance to demonstrate its readiness to defend itself and to choose life over death. Beirut voters will prove they know perfectly well the nature of the challenges facing them and will vote for Saad Hariri and his companions. To beat back the culture of death, every single vote is going to be crucial.
The culture of death set foot in Beirut when, in the 1980s, Hezbollah militias drove Christians and other minorities out of West Beirut. Many people remember how a large portion of West Beirut’s Christians fled the neighbourhoods of Mazraa, al-Msaytbeh, Khandaq al-Ghamiq and many other zones after sectarian militias kicked out the Lebanese Army in February 1984.
Beirut inhabitants will always remember how sectarian militias — be they Christian or Muslim, Lebanese or Palestinian — partitioned the city and systematically destroyed all aspects of civilised life. The destructive hordes got their weapons from one source: the Syrian regime.
The Syrian regime has always wanted to see Beirut in ruins and had ordered bombing operations carried out by proxy Palestinian factions. It used the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) to patrol the Green Line dividing Christian and Muslim areas in Beirut and the PLA became the tool used to wipe out the culture of sharing and of life from Beirut.
Little did the Syrian regime know that the economic and social development of Damascus is intimately linked to that of Beirut and vice versa. If it weren’t for the misguidedness of the regime, Damascus would have become a flourishing city, just as Beirut did. In fact, all of Syria would have flourished. However, the Syrian regime was cursed by Beirut and will remain so as long as it exists.
Beirut had seen a lot of unfairness and evil brought upon it. There were always efforts to bring it down by breaking it into smaller towns. Today, it is no different. Every Lebanese citizen in Beirut is targeted by the insidious new election law. This gives way to certain breaches meant to weaken Saad Hariri in Beirut, for weakening his camp means closing the door on any bright future for Lebanon and bringing back the days of Syrian control, although this time wrapped in Iranian clothes.
What will the people of Beirut do? Will they carry on resisting the culture of death and move on without seeking revenge?
In the end, only the strong will survive and Beirut is a survivor. It survived the tough times of the civil war and regained its status as “the bride of the Mediterranean.” Beirut had become the favourite destination of all Arabs until Hariri’s assassination in 2005. Beirut will rise again and shake off the bonds of backward forces. What is required is more awareness of the things at stake in the coming elections without drowning in small details.
Beirut voters need to realise that their vote will be crucial to stopping Hezbollah from laying its grip once and for all on Lebanon. They need to focus on the big picture, which comes down to one question: Are Beirut voters ready to fight or have they decided to surrender to Hezbollah and its agents?
What Beirut needs is a team of representatives like that of Saad Hariri and his colleagues on the blue list, people who believe in standing up to all aspects of underdevelopment in Beirut. They are motivated by the same desire to recapture the city’s glorious past as a favourite Arab city. All Beirut inhabitants have to do is respond en masse.