Yesterday I stumbled upon a New York Times article from 1984 written by Thomas Friedman about “Lebanon’s Haunted Youth” and how harsh life was for those “who have grown up during the last nine years of civil war. They were just waking up on the world, just starting to read the newspapers, when the war blew away their adolescence before they even knew it was gone”.
This made me think about what Lebanese born in the 80s like myself had to go through so far, and a post circulating online now helped refresh my memory about all the unfortunate and tragic events we encountered, and they are many!
Here’s a glimpse:
– Civil War 1975-1990
– Fleeing home: I was 2 years old when we were kicked out of our village (Jezzine district) due to clashes between Palestinian guerrillas & Lebanese militias. We first fled to Beirut to stay at some friends, then ended up in Keserwan.
– Mountain War: A bloody war between Druze & Christian militias that led to massacres and thousands of people fleeing their homes.
– 1989-1990 Aoun-Geagea wars: I remember our house was right on the beach in Jounieh and we’d see the bombs falling in the sea while ships try to flee to Cyprus. Towards the end of the war, two bullets went through our window where my brothers & I sleep, broke the glass and settled inside a jacket in our locker. Luckily we were all sleeping and no one got hurt. Add to that rushing to bomb shelters on a daily basis and staying in one apartment with the whole family.
– Bombing of the Sayyidat Al-Najat Church: We were driving closely when the bombing took place. There was no social media to understand what happened right away, and it was a tragic event that shook the country for months.
– Operation Grapes of Wrath (Israel war on Lebanon): Massive air strikes and extensive shelling in Southern Lebanon. We were all following the news and scenes from the Qana massacre where Israel shelled a UN compound will haunt us forever.
– Syrian Invasion (1990 – 2005)
– Baabda shelling & invasion: Syrian army men invading Baabda Palace, capturing and killing Lebanese soldiers. A dark chapter in Lebanon’s history.
– Resisting the Syrian Occupation: Attending protests, getting beaten up and interrogated by security forces, witnessing the violence exerted against young students holding Lebanese flags and asking for a sovereign state. Unfortunately, there are a lot of similarities between what’s been happening in recent years and the Syrian hegemony era.
– Beirut bombings & assassinations:
It started with Marwan Hamadeh and then Rafik Hariri, Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Francois el Hajj, Wissam Eid, Mohammad Chata7, Elias el Murr & May Chidiac. Only Chidiac, el Murr and Hamadeh attempts did not succeed.
Add to that several bomb alerts in malls, commercial centers and religious places. We even had a bomb alert at my work place and everyone freaked out.
– 2005 Cedar Revolution:
14 March 2005 was a glorious day but the events that led to it were overwhelming and tense.
Post-Syrian Hegemony Era (2005-2020)
– 2006 Israeli War: Another round that witnessed further Israeli aggressions and destruction.
– 2007 Nahr el Bared Battle: A bloody war with an Islamist group that led to the martyrdom of over 170 soldiers and injured 400 others. Three months of continuous fights while some political sides were trying to backstab the army efforts.
– 2008 Beirut Conflict: Hezbollah and its allies clash with Future Movement, PSP and take control of the capital for over a year. This came following a government move to shut down Hezbollah’s telecommunication.
– 2013 Sidon clashes: The village where the army clashed with Ahmad el Assir and his militants was 5 minutes away from my village.
– 2016 Suicide bombings: Al Qaa village was the most affected by this wave of suicide bombers coming from Syria, but everyone was terrorized with all the messages circulating about a potential suicide bomber roaming Lebanese areas.
– 2017 Operation Fajr Al Jouroud: Army crushing ISIS and kicking them out of Lebanon for good.
– 2019 October Revolution
2020 (So far):
– Lira crash
– Worst economic crisis to hit Lebanon
– Fuel shortage, food shortage.
– COVID-19 pandemic
And the most recent event was the Beirut Port blast.
These are just headlines (I’m sure I miss some), without mentioning the events that led to each, and the feelings of uncertainty, insecurity & fear that surround them.