Stuck In Beirut

Friday, July 14, 2006

What a difference a week makes

Last week, the streets of Beirut were full of happy tourists enjoying their vacations. Today, the streets are deserted because travelling is dangerous and fuel is in short supply.
Last week, the flags of various countries participating in the world cup were hanging from most balconies. Today, they are replaced by banners calling for the destruction of this and that.
Last week, the people were celebrating the Italian win in the world cup by driving around in the streets with honks blarring and Italian flags flapping in the wind. Today, we are bombarded by loudspeakers touting the merits of resisting the occupiers.
In this new atmosphere of fear, without electricity and without freedom of movement, it is difficult to forsee what the future holds. I am still optimistic that all the efforts for a cease-fire and a quick resolution to the hostage situation will bare fruits in the next 48 hours. I think that cooler heads will prevail, mainly because I don't see how Israel's continued attacks on the Lebanese bridges and infrastructure are going to lead to the release of the hostages. I also fail to see how HizbAllah rockets attacks on a few cities in Northern Israel will lead to Israel decision to return all the occupied territories.
BUT, I am also having to consider the alternative. And that is, that this will turn into a protracted conflict which will not be over anytime soon, because it will not be easy to attain a clear victory for either side. Specially if foreign powers continue to interfere.
Lebanon continues to be the main casualty here. Most foreign tourists have already left. The entire tourist sector is in disarray and many people who were counting on this seasonal influx of cash are licking their wounds. The government will have to raise Millions of Dollars to repair the damages caused by this war. Not to mention over 60 civilians killed and hundreds wounded so far. Unfortunately Lebanon cannot be immune from the surrounding conflicts, and the Lebanese will continue to demonstrate their resilience when facing tough choices. As my son said earlier today: "This vacation is turning into a real adventure". Hopefully it will have a happy conclusion.

2 Comments:

  • It sounds like your son has the optimism (or the sarcasm) of his dad. Keep those generators going, and hang in there!

    Whats the situation with the bombing? Are there clearly differentiated areas of Hizbollah control that are getting hit, or is it more random than that? Can the regular folks tell what is a likley target and stay away?

    Stay safe!

    By Blogger JBFricks, at 6:28 PM  

  • What a difference indeed! How easy it is to see the insignificance of our daily "challenges" when thinking of you and your family. We miss your presence back here, and will be pleased to see you around the lunch table soon!

    One potential upside to all this... every day you are delayed is one less day sitting in traffic somewhere in the A-T-L! But that's OK, I'll take up the slack for you in that department.

    Our best to you and your extended family.

    By Blogger so2, at 7:38 PM  

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