Bloodshed in Beirut is a reminder that regional Christians have been betrayed

Bloodshed in Beirut is a reminder that regional Christians have been betrayed

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East with a sizeable population of Christians, even if Coptic Christians are more numerous in Egypt. However, regional nations and ethnic groups have utilized Lebanon for their own geopolitical ambitions. This applies, irrespective of Israel, Iran, or Syria – or if ethnic Palestinians. Therefore, Christian out-migration and a feeling of abandonment persist in some Christian quarters.

Israel and the Palestinians didn’t concern themselves with the Lebanese, irrespective of Christian, Shia, and so forth. Instead, Israel and the Palestinians played out a conflict in Lebanon several decades ago. Similarly, Iran entrusts the anti-Israel mantra to their co-Shia religionists in Hezbollah.

The role of Syria is (was) extremely complex – for Syria at first sent its armed forces into Lebanon in the middle of the 1970s to help the Maronite Christians against the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and other anti-Maronite forces. However, the utter chaos of sectarianism, outside meddling, the horrendous negative impact of the PLO, political-ideological splits, and other factors rendered Lebanon a nightmare between 1975-1990. Henceforth, the events in modern-day Syria (despite many internal differences) are like a mirror of what happened to Lebanon in the past. This concerns outside meddling, sectarianism, foreign armies being lodged in Syria (just like Israel, Syria, and the Palestinians had armies and proxies in Lebanon), and other negative factors that flow with the nightmare of Lebanon between the civil war period of 1975-1990.

Thus, the killing of six people today in Beirut is a grim reminder of the fragile nature of Lebanon. Especially with the horrendous economic crisis and the high refugee number that is altering the religious dynamics of Lebanon.

The Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, Cardinal Bechara Rai, said, “As a result, we have half the Lebanese population in refugees. Instead of 4 million, we have 6 million, and 2 million are non-Lebanese but are adding to the needs of the country, the economy, and the education.”

Cardinal Rai also noted that the vast majority of refugees are Sunni Muslims. Thus, this is altering the religious dynamics -concerning Christians, the Shia, and Druze.

Meanwhile, while Israel never concerned itself with Palestinians fleeing Palestine and moving to Lebanon in huge numbers. The same can be said of Sunni-dominated nations in the Gulf and mainly Shia Iran. After all, how many Christians have been given citizenship with full religious rights in Iran or Saudi Arabia in the last 50 years? Therefore, it appears that the Christians of Lebanon – despite the diverse nature of many Christian sects and different political thinking in Lebanon – appear to be abandoned internationally even if France raises concerns.

Lebanon was the jewel in the crown of the Levant – irrespective of religious affiliation. However, today this nation is in crisis economically and politically. Also, Lebanon is beholden to internal political vested interests and external geopolitical forces. Therefore, Christians are being squeezed more internally – while ordinary Christians, Druze, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and secularists all feel abandoned by the current political system.

Lebanon needs to be free from outside meddling – and the same applies to Syria. If stability returns to Syria, then Syrians can mainly return home. Likewise, it is high time for Israel to acknowledge that Palestinians in Lebanon emanate from what is now modern-day Israel or the West Bank. Therefore, Lebanon (same applies to Syria) needs to be sovereign from the convulsions of the region and the geopolitical ambitions of Israel, Iran, and Turkey.

If Lebanon regains national sovereignty, this nation then can tackle endemic political corruption. Therefore, the European Union (EU) should support Lebanon in its endeavor of being a sovereign nation – that is free from the shackles of negative external power plays.

All Lebanese are suffering – irrespective if Christian, Druze, Muslim, or secular.

Henceforth, the recent killings that took place mustn’t spiral out of control. Instead, negative internal political factors and external meddling – along with the refugee angle – needs to be challenged. If so, fresh hope to the people of Lebanon can occur despite the road be extremely difficult ahead.

The alternative is too shocking to contemplate!


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