I’m not the kind of people to get deterred from going to Tripoli by the sporadic fights that erupt there or the occasional bomb that finds itself to explosion. It’s not that I have a death wish – it’s that 1) the fights are often not close to the places I frequent, 2) the people I visit there are like family and 3) I love the food.
Around late September, I was driving to Tripoli, rolling fast on the highway, when I was shocked to find traffic. Those of you who have been there know it’s near impossible to have a congested highway. But it was. And it took me almost 30 minutes to cross those few kilometers into the city.
Why did that traffic exist? Because a “khetta amniye” (security plan) was put forth. I’m not following the news so I had no idea. I grabbed a picture then of the cars piling up above each other and figured I’d write a blog post about it: security vs efficiency – we just couldn’t have both. Should we accept to compromise over the other?
But I let it pass.
Today, all entrances to the city are blocked by checkpoints that screen every car as well as rude officers that don’t even try to make it The army is also present across the city and it’s all part of said “khetta amniye.”
The catch? These past few days have witnessed a resurgence of the fights in Tripoli. And the fights are heavy – heavier than in the last round the city witnessed. Of course, no media will talk about these things because, you know, must keep perfect image about Lebanon (as many of the comments on this suggest we should). But the question is no longer of security vs efficiency in Tripoli. We’re getting neither.
My friends from Tripoli call their city jokingly the Qandahar of the North. We laugh about it because there’s nothing else to do but make fun of the situation that has befallen their city. But the question to ask: if a security plan as stringent as the one imposed on Tripoli now can’t keep the city safe then what can?
What’s the point of making the lives of its people a military mess if said military can’t keep the city safe when the going gets tough? There’s no point I guess.
My friends in Tripoli, your city is not tragic in itself. It’s a manifestation of the utter failure of the Lebanese state. It’s sad that you have turned out to be the scapegoats of a government and a country that can’t keep its citizens safe even if it tried. The story of Tripoli and said “khetta amniye” is one sitcom waiting to happen. Just make sure to never tell that officer monitoring those many checkpoints “bonsoir” and you’ll be saved.