Picture via RachaHalabi
Every few weeks, clashes erupt in Tripoli between Beb el Tebbane and Jabal Mohsen and go on for days before calming down as if nothing happened. Most people (those outside Tripoli) and a majority of Lebanese TVs and media outlets seem to agree that it’s bad up and even add more fuel to the fire. This being said, I reiterate the need for better media coverage for the Tripoli events and ask local TVs and news reporters to handle the clashes in a more professional and responsible matter, and help uncover the actual details behind the constant arming of groups.
The reason why I am rewriting about this is because I had quite an interesting chat with few friends residing in Tripoli the other day, and they were telling me on how clashes are started and how snipers operate and confirming the reports mentioned in the Daily Star few months back. These so-called fighters are in it for the money and the only way to keep the money flowing is by emptying their guns on their opponents every now and then. As for snipers, they pick a nice spot on the roof (I was shown a picture of a sniper spot inside a water gallon on a building’s rooftop), hide out for a couple of days, pick a spot and start shooting at anything that moves. This explains why things calm down so quickly.
These are the details of the current “job openings” in Tripoli as previously posted:
Job Opening 1: Young or Experienced Militia Fighter
Starting Salary for recruits is 200$
Job Opening 2: Leader of an armed group of 10-15 gunmen armed with automatic rifles and hand grenades
Starting Salary = 600$
What is also worthy mentioning is that the areas of conflicts are far from the heart of Tripoli and restricted to a small area that has known tensions for years, that is between Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbane. This being said, the situation in Tripoli is not as bad as it is being portrayed, except for this tiny area where individuals are getting funded and armed by unknown sources to make trouble every now and then and it’s proving to be a good business for both parties.
All in all, 57 percent of the population is considered poor in Tripoli but this city is also home to Lebanon’s richest man, PM Najib Mikati, as well as other wealthy businessmen. There are also a lot of religious, political and military individuals who are influential in this town, so it wouldn’t hurt if they all invested a little of their time and money to keep their town and residents safe, specially that the numbers are out there and the solution is simple.
50.4 percent of families in Jabal Mohsen-Bab el-Tabbaneh have a monthly income of less than 500,000 Lebanese Lira (LL) (US$333) and 82 percent under LL800,000 (US$533). If these families are slightly helped financially or by any means possible, they won’t be that desperate to hold guns and fight for no purpose.
Speaking of better media coverage, Joe Maalouf made this report on Tripoli the other day and showed the good side of the city. I don’t want to sound negative here but the report is a bit cheesy and focuses a bit too much on the Christian-Muslim relations in Tripoli which was never that problematic, specially that Christians constitute barely 5% of the city’s population. What we need to investigate is who is funding these fighters and bringing them weapons and who decides when to start a clash and when to stop it specially between Bab el Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen?