Hope amid despair

A view shows the Iranian cultural centre (L) at the site of an explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut February 19, 2014. (REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban)

In the latest spillover incident from the war in Syria, at least eight people were killed in Wednesday’s twin bombings in Beirut’s southern neighborhood of Bir Hasan.

Coming a day after the new Cabinet’s first meeting, the attack must serve as a reminder, if anyone had any doubts, that the government’s priority must be to tackle the country’s shaky security situation and renew some semblance of stability.

Political bickering and one-upmanship must be transcended, and a collective sense of responsibility realized. A welcome step in this direction came Monday, with an important meeting between Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, from the March 14 coalition, and Wafiq Safa, a senior Hezbollah security official: a sign that all sides recognize that political rifts must not remain hurdles to national cohesion and the protection of civilians.

This was also evidenced in the immediate aftermath of this latest bombing, when Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk visited the site, not an area the senior March 14 figure usually frequents. This appearance, alongside Hezbollah security officials, shows a desire, also found in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s recent comments that the political divide which has long paralyzed Lebanon must be forgotten. Former Education Minister Khaled Qabbani, the director of a nearby Sunni orphanage, some of whose resident children were wounded in the attack, was also quick to condemn the “random criminality” of such incidents.

This disturbing menace which continues to plague the country will not be combated until all officials and political figures work together. Fortunately, it appears some rapprochement is on the horizon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 20, 2014, on page 7.




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