Patrolling a Proxy War: Citizens, Soldiers and Zuʻama in Syria Street, Tripoli
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The deadliest proxy war in Lebanon is that between Bab al-Tabbaneh (Sunni) and Jabal Mohsen (Alawite), two neighbourhoods in downtown Tripoli. The conflict has historical roots that can be traced to the Lebanese civil war; in 2011, with the Syrian revolt, conflict re-erupted. Attempts to contain the conflict undertaken by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) brought criticisms of the army as being pro-Hizbollah (thus pro-Syria), not a neutral arbiter. In 2014, after lengthy political bickering, the LAF was empowered to implement the Tripoli Security Plan, seizing weapons and arresting fighters. The LAF’s clampdown has restored a tenuous calm in Tripoli, but the conflict awaits a political solution that the security plan is incapable of providing.
The chapter is based on fieldwork and interviews in Tripoli, Beirut and Baabda in November 2013. I am grateful to Marie Kortam for facilitation and translation of interviews in Tripoli. I would also like to thank Raphäel Lefèvre for sharing interviews and Jaber Suleiman for English translation of selected Arabic material. Tine Gade generously shared her many research contacts in Tripoli. Diran Harmandyan provided invaluable information on the city’s complex history, demographics and elections and Synne Bergby shared new neighbourhood profiles from Tripoli. The usual disclaimers apply.
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