Is Lebanon on the verge of return to the ghosts of Self-Security Solutions

Historical – how and why Lebanon stayed an undeclared de facto state of religious cantons
When the project of the Taef agreement became the De facto reality that could never be avoided, a lot of Lebanese could not thoroughly understand its roadmap, while in theory it was explained to us that according to its essence, all Lebanese local parties would disarm, sure a lot of us was disappointed that it was only the local Lebanese groups that would disarm, but it will not lead to a situation where only the Lebanese legitimate national armed forces, The Lebanese Army and the internal security forces would be the exclusive armed existence who will be armed and be inn charged of the country, but a status quo was kept where the superior existing force would be the Syrian army
At that time, the Lebanese Authorities who came to power through the Taef Agreement tried to sort of give us a sense of compensation that at least only regular official armies would be in charge, belonging to two states, the Syrian and the Lebanese, and therefore both have a reference now, carry on an official legal status, and the days of Chaos are over where a diversity of partisan militias each control parts, and the citizen would be confused how to deal with such chaos
But soon, very soon, a lot of Lebanese disappointment and frustration grew deeper
For starters, Palestinians remained armed inside the Palestinian camps, and now the Authorities once again, tried to comfort us that the Palestinians remain restraint inside the camps, and that they are not allowed to be active outside the boundaries of their camps
But soon, a lot of Lebanese expressed their major shock, Christians in particular by a rather louder protests, and Muslim Sunnis
It turned out that according to the Taef Agreement, Lebanese Armed militias would seize to exist did not mean a total inclusive disarmament of All Lebanese Militias, it did not include ALL, but SOME, and apparently, it allowed the Lebanese groups in the south to remain armed, as part of a resistance, and therefore Lebanese Shiite groups Hizbullah and Amal Movement have the right to carry arms to resist the Israeli occupation
Now it was natural for Christians to sense the deepest and most loud resentment, first of all one of their leaders General Aoun was exiled, the other major group, the Lebanese Forces, who had the largest armed war machine among Lebanese, voluntarily handed over all its weapons, only to be rewarded by his leader Dr. Gaegae was imprisoned, and thus began the era known as “Christian Frustration and demoralization”
Sunnis were already disarmed at least a decade ago during the war, and did seem to enjoy political influence, because the Sunni Prime Minister Raffik Harriri enjoyed a huge international support, but within time it became clear he was only seemed to have an influence, but was allowed only to have the role of the economical leader, and year after year it became clear that the country strategic, political and military decisions were decided outside the Lebanese government that Harriry headed, Regional powers Iran and Syria and locally Lebanese Hizbullah
Sunni frustration remained hidden and silent, yet strong and restrained, until one day Raffik Harriry was assassinated, and with it the rage of the Christian and Muslim Sunni exploded, accompanied by the Lebanese Druze who allied with the Sunnis and Christians
In the year 2005, Syrians left Lebanon, and Israel had also withdrawn in the year 2000, and it seemed the proper right time that Lebanese finally and at last end the era of the Civil war that started in 1975 and at last return to the state that left eh scene at that time
But that did not take place, and the stubborn stance of Hizbullah who insisted that the correct way for Lebanon to be healthy was “under the protection of its armed force that would protect Lebanon from Israeli hostility”
Now some might say and blame this party or that party who compromised, but I think most Lebanese parties can be blamed in varying degrees, because at some point, even after 2005, made a truce and accepted these weapons, some will justify that by doing this they avoided another Civil war, but almost everyone seemed to reconcile with this weapon at a certain stage yet blamed another group for later on accepting this weapon, and in practice every government that was formed, it its initial declaration remained either remained vague regarding the legitimacy of Hizbullah weapons or adopted a column that considers it a legitimate resistance
The Result and the consequences
We all know the consequences of this status quo, it led to stalemate, the country institutions became half functional and dysfunctional on intervals, semi dysfunctional, governments took months to form, twice a president was not elected for more than a year, the parliament extended its period twice, Since the decision of war and peace was no longer under the state and government control, foreign investors did not risk investing in an uncertain Lebanon, and since Hizbullah took a decision to participate in Syrian civil war, without consulting with the state, gulf countries boycotted Lebanon
Eventually the Lebanese economy collapsed and Lebanese Banks bankrupted, due to corruption, now some will argue that Hizbullah Arms should not be blamed for corruption and a lot of its opponents are deeply indulged in corruption, and that is true, but I also blame Hizbullah weapons, because it had become a great excuse for a lot of its opponents to remain in corruption and do nothing beneficial, because they had a great excuse to blame for the social economical failure – Hizbullah weapons, not only that, a lot of Hizbullah allies carried on their corruption because no one would dare to hold them accountable since they enjoyed the protection of Hizbullah, which has become far superior in strength than the Lebanese state
Now Lebanon has collapsed socially/economically and financially, the salaries of everyone, including the Armed forces had critically dropped, which of course stroked the motivation and efficiency of a lot of internal security force members, hunger, stress, confusion and absence of financial security naturally led to rise in criminal activities
Crisis deepens, and angry citizens express their rage and frustration towards the banks
And there is a rumor that one of the Bank Lords in Ashrafieh, needed a sort of a fighting machine to protect his banks, and thus he finances a semi paramilitary organization, which calls itself the “soldiers of the Lord”
How much this rumor is true, is uncertain and unclear, it might have started this way, or otherwise, but probably it evolved into something else, more ideological
It is said that this young organization has started with 30 members, but quickly rose in numbers to become 300 men strong, so far it seems a romantic emotional organization, and most Ashrafiet residents I spoke with describe it as a spontaneous movement, not a full pledged organization, but simply an innocent initiative by the young residents of the area, who defend their neighborhood
It seems also that this movement lacks the experience, whether political or ideological, and I think so far a large portion of the media exaggerates,
Now sometimes they seem rather extreme, not in practice and actions but rather expressions, which is natural, yes they sometimes seem radical in imposing their religious beliefs and want to sound fanatical, but I think with time they will mature and realize some rather passionate gestures will hurt them, sometimes they try to defend their arguments through biblical verses
Yet I think sometimes they might take rather hasty actions, for example, rumors say they attacked football fans during the world cup mistaking them for a Hizbullah convoy that came to make trouble, whatever happened that night will of course be unclear, it is extremely difficult to determine such cases
Now big questions arise, are they younger generations of the Christian middle class environment, who will in time grow and eventually defy the historical Christian leadership of the Lebanese Forces, so far in most of their videos I watched they pay tribute to Lebanese Forces symbols, leaders and former fighters, but there is also the fact that during the Lebanese Civil war, the younger generation of Lebanese Forces warriors who came out of the Phalange party environment took over the Phalange street, but then again, that happened after the martyrdom of the Charismatic Bachir Gemayel, and no one would have dared to defy him, and I doubt that today anyone would dare to defy the Charisma of Dr. Gaegae, current leader of the Lebanese Forces
Now we have seen a wave of focus and attention towards this young movement, mostly negative, a lot of politicians tried to criticize and condemn this phenomenon, describing it as a perverted scenes of tendency to impose their own will over some of the Christian areas and the community, one member of the parliament, Paula Yaacoubian accused it to be a force of the ruling class in order to suppress the civil society movement, and she even claimed that a while ago, a citizen called the police asking for support, and members of this movement showed up and told her they were sent to handle the situation, while other politicians, from the Christian right (The Lebanese Phalange and the Lebanese Forces mainly) called to seek the roots of the problem in Hizbullah who dominates Shiite areas by an iron fist thanks to its armed militia who is stronger than the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese state, not only that, but also several times convoys of Hizbullah supporters came to Christian areas of Ain el Remanne and Asharafieh and clashed with the local residents, and crime and burglary in mount Lebanon (mostly populated by Christians and Druze) has risen, which led to the Youth in these areas to organize civil patrols and night watch guard of these areas, only equipped with flashlights
Some fear that these scenarios of youngsters organizing in groups in order to guard their areas, but evolve and develop into a much paramilitary level, and eventually to armament, and that this might to history repeating itself and the return of civil war
I say, in order to avoid history repeating itself, we Lebanese must avoid the mistakes we committed in 1975, and that all of us choose an exclusive umbrella, seek shelter in the Lebanese state and the Lebanese legitimate national armed forces, the Lebanese Army and the internal security forces
Only in the state and statehood lie Lebanon and Lebanese security and salvation
May the Lord protect and safeguard the republic of Lebanon

Bedros Manoukian
A Lebanese in the Lebanese Diaspora,