Tripoli And “El Khetta L Amniyé”

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.

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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.

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3 thoughts on “Tripoli And “El Khetta L Amniyé”

  1. Can we talk about how ridiculous checkpoints are?
    When the officer looks at your face, or how nice your car is in order to decide whether to let you pass through or ask you to pull up to the right side of the road?
    And then they ask the passengers for their ID and the car registration?
    Because those papers/cards are so hard to counterfeit, you know especially when the officer visually checks them.
    Because who cares if it’s 2013, who needs computers and scanners and databases to check the authenticity of documents and license plates.
    Because who cares if it’s 2013, who needs sophisticated bomb detectors, bomb sniffing dogs or functional intelligence bureaus that track down wanted individuals and explosives.
    Because you know terrorists in a car full of explosives are going to pull up to the checkpoint, be asked to pull up to the ride side of the road, and then turn themselves in and not blow up their explosives with cars full of gas-oil lined up behind them with hundreds of people stuck in them.
    Because you know it’s just the illusion of security that matters, concrete blocks and barbed wires decorate downtown, that’s why you can’t park anywhere near a government building, a politicians house (whether he lives there or not), embassies… Heck, even some banks are getting envious and are blocking parking next to their main branch.
    Because you know it’s just the illusion of giving a shit about your well-being, checkpoints in the middle of the night during the weekend, where the purpose of those checkpoints is not clear, I want to believe they’re to stop drunk drivers, but there are no alcohol level detectors in sight, I want to believe they’re to enforce traffic laws like using the seat belt, but that’s probably not it since barely any cars are pulled over and barely any tickets are given. Speed radar boxes are just nesting places for birds.

    But thanks for thinking of our safety with your highly efficient security plan.

    Reply
  2. hey i disagree
    I say bonsoir and i always get a “yes3edli hal masa” or a “ya mit ahla w sahla” with a wide smile.
    ^_^

    Reply

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