BEIRUT: Lebanese political leaders marked the 37th anniversary of the start of the country’s 1975-90 Civil War Friday with various calls for learning from history’s mistakes and aiming for unity.
“The Civil War should be remembered by learning lessons that conflicts and disputes take place when the axis game and political interests go beyond national interests,” President Michel Sleiman said.
While stressing the importance of stability Lebanon is enjoying in the midst of regional tension, Sleiman hoped that Lebanese people will realize the need to commit to national principles.
“I hope the Lebanese will also realize that any dispute over any issue should be [resolved] within the democratic and constitutional framework,” Sleiman added.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for his part, called on the Lebanese to unite to secure Lebanon’s future.
“The painful memory of the 37th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lebanese [Civil] War necessitates us to call on all Lebanese with different [political] affiliations to unite on a slogan to save our homeland and keep the horrors of war away,” Mikati said.
"Serious dialogue to discuss ways to ward off the dangers on Lebanon – particularly in light of the tragic events the region is witnessing and protecting it from regional and international repercussions – and putting hands together should come through the lessons of this anniversary,” Mikati said.
Lebanon’s Civil War erupted on April 13, 1975, when Christian gunmen killed 27 Palestinians on a bus in Beirut’s Ain al-Rummaneh neighborhood. The war killed at least 150,000 people.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the Civil War anniversary “should be an incentive to unmask a policy which threatens national peace and the will of coexistence.”
Hariri expressed solidarity with the families of martyrs as well as the families of kidnapped and missing persons and the thousands of families displaced by the successive wars in Lebanon.
“We look forward with all the loyalists to a sovereign Lebanon while resorting to the voice of wisdom and reason and that we learn from the bitter experiences our country has undergone and that we meet on the values that protect our freedom, our sovereignty and our democratic system, and liberate the state and its institutions from internal and external strength,” he said.
An Arab-brokered accord in Taif, Saudi Arabia, ended Lebanon’s Civil War, which also left hundreds of thousands of wounded and an infrastructure in ruins.
The hard task of getting the country back on its feet was taken up by successive governments but Lebanon’s post-war period has been slow and difficult.
In 2005, after the assassination of Hariri’s father, five-time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and mass demonstrations labeled the “Cedar Revolution” Syria withdrew its army after a decades-long presence.
Hariri’s assassination was one of several to shake the country’s stability. Its consequences, the establishment of an international court to try those behind the attack, has been a major point of tension between the country’s rival factions after four members of Hezbollah were indicted in the case.
Hezbollah denies involvement in the assassination of Hariri.
In 2006, Israel and Lebanon engaged in a month-long war that left over 1,000 Lebanese civilians killed.
The country also neared the brink of civil war in 2008 after clashes between supporters of Hezbollah and the Future Movement of Saad Hariri over the resistance group’s private telecommunications network, which the government of the time had planned to dismantle.