Friday, June 6, 2014

In hiding, Tripoli’s militiamen dream of fighting

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The afternoon sun beats down on a group of men as they construct the walls of a children’s playground by the seaside outside Tripoli. A sea breeze blows across the reclaimed land jutting out over the rocky shore.

It might sound like paradise, but the husky men here are wanted by security forces for their role in recent Tripoli clashes.

As they wait for fighting they claim will start anew, they are confined to this embankment property where they spend their days looking to the past, when they were free to roam the city.

“It was better when there were battles because there was work and action,” says Ali, a wanted militiaman. “Now, there’s no work and no money.” The plot of land Ali works on is owned by his militia’s leader, and he is helping to build a wall by spreading cement over large concrete blocks, his three sons playing on a carousel a few meters away.

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Inadequate net regulation sees Lebanon’s fishermen suffer

BEIRUT/SIDON/TRIPOLI: The saline scent of the Mediterranean hangs in the air as 69-year-old Adnan al-Oud stands looking out at his nautical bureau where he’s spent decades seafaring.

For years, the sea generously provided heaps of fish for fishermen like Oud, but the once-plentiful aquatic expanse is no longer as giving as it once was.“[Today], the fisherman does not have enough money to pay for his food and if he has kids in school he can’t pay for them,” he says, standing in a small harbor under Beirut’s Ain al-Mreisseh boardwalk.

Oud lets a cigarette dangle from his calloused left hand. Grey curly hair crawls out from the back of his brown Pirelli hat, covering his small squinting eyes from the sun. He wears a tattered long brown T-shirt, long navy blue shorts, and his comfortable Crocs.

In his youth, Oud would work 10 days straight as a fireman and would use his usual 20 days off at sea being a fisherman.

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Ethnic tensions erupt in Burj Hammoud

BEIRUT: The stout, gray-haired man, who says he is “bigger than the mukhtar” in the community, stares coldly and speaks with authority.

“The Kurds have no religion,” Serge says firmly, standing only a block away from where a Syrian Kurd put a local man in intensive care Saturday. “They have no Jesus, no God.”Serge is one of many in Beirut’s northeastern suburb of Burj Hammoud who harbors a flagrant resentment toward Kurds. Enmity between some runs so deep that tensions have even descended into gang warfare in the past.

That sentiment boiled over during the weekend after Lebanese citizen Elias Kalash was knocked unconscious by a gas canister thrown by a Syrian Kurdish man.

The ensuing tensions were only quelled Monday when local municipality figures and representatives comprising various security forces held a series of meetings aimed at preventing a recurrence of Saturday’s events. A representative from the Kurdish Lebanese Razgari Party was also in communication with the Burj Hammoud municipality in an attempt to further defuse ethnic and communal hostilities.

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