Security nightmares

File - Lebanese soldiers deploy in al-Tarik al-Jadidah, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

The government and the security agencies of Lebanon are very fond of reiterating that national stability and the safety of its citizens are paramount, that the culprits of crimes will not go unpunished. But after hearing these statements time and time again, and seeing no progress on the ground, it is time to face the reality of the situation, and for such institutions to refrain from peddling such patent falsehoods. Or to divert all attention toward living up to their words.

Lebanese citizens currently have their fair share of complaints with the government, from issues related to energy and telecommunications, the environment and public transport, to health care and education. But sadly, campaigning for better services in these regards is perhaps now meaningless. This government has revealed itself to be incapable in regard to all of these sectors. It has shown an apparent disregard for the rights of citizens to have a decent standard of living, and that’s not even addressing the even more legitimate complaints of those living in poverty.

We now know from experience that these issues will not be addressed anytime soon. Therefore it would make sense for all ministers to divert their attention to the security situation, thus protecting the most basic right of all Lebanese – that is, the right to life.

The last few days – over the Eid al-Adha holiday – have brought a fresh round of security flare-ups across the country. Repeated tension and fighting in the northern city of Tripoli; a car bomb discovered before it was detonated in the capital’s southern suburbs; shootings in the eastern Bekaa Valley; clashes in Beirut’s Al-Tariq al-Jadideh neighborhood, related to the presence of Hezbollah-allied Resistance Brigades; a lethal hit and run accident.

The high presence of arms is also a cause for concern, as is the ongoing campaign by certain groups and individuals to poach property. Often the culprits operate with no concern for repercussions from authorities.

And while all this is going on, the various security agencies – the police, the Army and General Security – continue to claim that they have the situation under control. But this country is so small and news travels fast. If a shootout erupts in one area of Beirut, it will soon be known about across the country. This mythical veil of security that the agencies insist exists is soon broken, and the Lebanese cannot be fooled for long.

So forget the traffic problems, the sporadic water supplies, the cripplingly slow and expensive Internet. For the concerned ministries have shown themselves ill equipped or unprepared to improve the situation in these regards. The very least that the authorities can do now is to allow the Lebanese to go to work or school each morning in the knowledge that they will return home in the evening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 18, 2013, on page 7.




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