Disassociate or bust

Women mourn over the body of Omar Abdelmenghem Alhujairi, 12, who died today as rockets fired from Syria hit the Lebanese border town of Arsal January 17, 2014. (REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah)

Seven people, including six children, were killed in Friday’s rocket attack on Arsal. A day before, four people died after a car bomb was detonated in Hermel. It is not enough to say that Syria’s civil war is “spilling over” into Lebanon: It has arrived in full, and is now claiming the lives of Lebanese as well as Syrians.

Thursday’s car bomb was claimed by the Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group in Syria. And Friday’s rocket was launched from a Syrian warplane. Such violent attacks are increasing in frequency and becoming all too commonplace in Lebanon.

And after each such crime, certain Lebanese politicians bemoan the lack of a government and urge the prompt formation of one, to replace the caretaker Cabinet currently in existence. But not just any government will be sufficient to counter such terror invading our borders.

A strong government is needed, one that is unafraid of making drastic decisions and standing up to all those enemies of this country that seek to use it as a proxy battlefield for larger struggles. One whose members do not provide cover to armed militias or indeed have a private army of their own. The creation of a government is, of itself, not the answer, but the creation of one that would apply the Baabda Declaration of disassociation from Syria could be.

Now more than ever, Lebanon needs a government that prioritizes the rights of civilians over those leaders and men who are tearing the country apart; not one that is exacerbating the very violence that is killing Lebanese citizens on their own soil.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 18, 2014, on page 7.




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