Posted by: sean | May 9, 2008

So what now?

The war is continuing, but my neighborhood looks like it’s any other Saturday morning. The upscale carft shop, L’Artisan du Liban, is apparently open; there is a couple walking a dog; traffic is coming through; and Ethiopian maids are beating carpets and washing windows.

Meanwhile, in Hamra, Hezbollah took all of one night to defeat the Mostaqbal (Future, the pro-government Sunni militia) and take over the area. There are now (much more professional) Hezbollah militiamen running the areas. The Future movement’s television channel was shut down, along with its newspaper and radio station. According to my friends, the army and Internal Security Forces (the latter trained by the US and loyal to Future’s Hariri) are nowhere to be found.

There had been rumors about Mustaqbal training in the last year or two. I suppose we can put that notion to rest, because it only took a night for them to get their asses handed to them by Hezbollah.

So what now? Jumblatt made this point yesterday, saying that Hezbollah could easily occupy all of Beirut, but then what? I’m wondering what’s going to happen to East Beirut. Are the Christians going to (or going to be allowed to) stay out of it all together? Will Hezbollah wait until Mustaqbal has been completely routed and then aim their sites at Christian Lebanese Forces and Phalangists? Will Hezbollah use its new-found posiiton of power to negotiate, or will it just be the government now?

For the moment, I can’t tell that we’re in a civil war by looking out the window, but had I left work an hour later yesterday, I’d probably be holed up in my office or at friends’ watching street fighting all across the neighborhood that has traditionally been the safest place in Beirut.  

UPDATE: Artisan du Liban isn’t actually open, but the building it’s in is. Besides grocery stores, though, the Mana’eesh places are open, as are the hair salon, antique shop and carpet repair shop by my place. 

Also, it’s been pointed out to me that it’s Friday today, which goes to show you how much it feels like a Saturday today here.

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