Monday, July 31, 2006

Hammra street, Beirut

Back in 2003 a month before the War in Iraq, I traveled to Lebanon by Car, of course those days it was safe to travel through the Western Anbar province, I arrived at the Syrian Lebanese borders very late at night and because I’m an Iraqi I had to wait for an interrogation by the Lebanese Intelligence Officer, now the Reason I’m mentioning it right now is to give people who have no Idea what Lebanon is and how routes and towns, villages are so near one another the Officer asked me “can you see the American forces gathering from the hill tops of Baghdad?” my answer was “well…first of all Baghdad is totally flat, second they are gathering hundreds of kilometers away, so the answer to your question is No I can’t see them” with a smirk “Sir” the Gentleman let me go through and one hour later I was in the middle of lovely yet delicate Beirut I stayed at a hotel in Hammra street for a month and each morning I would wake up at Six on the sound of the newspaper boys getting ready to distribute the morning papers, I would walk throughout Hammra street past the Starbuck café and towards Sadat street intersection, there is this nice bakery that makes different kinds of lovely and fresh “Manakesh”, I would later wander throughout the streets and sideways and watch the buildings watching the old buildings and the scars on them and how plants managed to fill in the gaps of these scars, I would go the Antouin Book store and walk to the American university of Beirut, I would sit in one of the Cafes in front of it and watch the young people studying for an Exam while drinking Espressos and eating doughnuts.
In the evenings I would stroll towards the Rawshee rock and watch the sunset. Sit on the benches At ain al mreaysee with my back towards the Hard Rock Café and watch the fishermen and in some cases you could see a full rainbow starting in the Mediterranean and ending in the Mountains I used to carry my own ashtray because I was ashamed to get the sidewalks dirty, you could watch ships come and go in the night and that heavy reminder of the civil war the Holiday Inn at the San George where battles were fought between the militias to control it until they eventually destroyed it before it was even open.
At night I would Daily go to Bar Bar sandwich bar near the Piccadilly intersection with Hammra Street & get myself a Gyro.

I envied their freedom. I hated their sectarian divisions & weak government.

How terrible I feel today, that lovely country going down the drain, …Strike two.

2 comments:

lee mcdaniel said...

Zappy:

Enjoyed you descriptions of a peaceful time in Beirut. Will it come again, we can only hope so.

Anonymous said...

Beirut and Baghdad will both be restored ... how quickly that can be done is simple ...

The problem is the same ...
A decent representative government
is in place in both countries ...
But instead of backing these governments totally and giving the brand new system say ten years
to improve the lives of its citizens ... the militias maintain
a separate identity ...

All Hezbolla had to do is in a parliamentary session have their
representatives bring up the issue
of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli
jails ... debate it openly ...
and have Lebanese representative
meet with Israelis to come up with a plane to build toward a full and lasting peace and prisoner release,

Had the Israelis seen Hezbolla positions pull back say half way from where the UN resolution called
for ... perhaps they may have let
Half the prisoners go ...

But Hezbolla wants to force concessions from the Israelis without concedeing anything ...
They wanted to swap prisoners after

1) Killing 8 Israeli soldiers
2) using six years to smuggle in Rockets and fortify positions

Hezbolla/Lebanon Had an oppourtunity to cut deals with the Israelis in order to get prisoners released without any deaths or destruction ... Hezbolla acted independently and now the destruction on both sides is huge.

The same goes for Iraqi part of insurgency ... Maliki can be bargained with ... build brand new
local police forces in Anbar ...
allow engineers and construction workers to travel freely without harm and work on reconstruction projects ... alow a mixture
of American and Iraqi forces to patrol highways and bridges ...
cooperate at checkpoints etc ...
and after six months of cooperation with the Maliki government the Americans could leave Anbar ...

Fastest way for Beirut and Iraq
to rebuild is for all citizens to work fully with the new governments
even now Hezbolla speaks independently of Lebanese government ... Thats the main problem ... Thats the cause of the latest violence