The Lebanese media is reporting that a 30-year old woman died and three more people were wounded in Ayshah Bakkar this evening as a result of fire exchange between Hariri and Berri supporters. The army is now in control of the area with orders to shoot at anyone carrying arms in the vicinity. The Corniche (seaside promenade), which is just off the neighborhood where I am staying, is unusually quiet for a Sunday night and I have seen two columns of army tanks rumbling by this evening.
This might come as a surprise given the prevailing mode of reconciliation after the elections, but tensions are still running deep beneath the smooth surface. The reason, according to al-Akhbar, is that Syria and Saudi Arabia cannot agree on the details surrounding Lebanon. Some of the tension seeped through in Thursday’s parliamentary session for the election of speaker and deputy speaker of parliament. At most 24 of Hariri’s bloc, “Lebanon First,” voted for Nabih Berri. The disappointment of receiving 90 votes instead of the expected 100+ was obvious on Berri’s face. The reply came swiftly during the ensuing election of deputy speaker Farid Makari, who received 74 votes — meaning that only a handful of opposition members voted for him.
The lightness with which politicians took the election in parliament was so far removed from the seriousness of the situation. A vote went to the deceased singer Farid al-Atrash, another to the deceased Sabri Hamadah, a third to the “parliament,” and so on so forth. Extremely cute. The naming of Saad al-Hariri yesterday to form a government, together with the blow that Berri and the opposition felt they were dealt on Thursday, raised the level of tension on the streets last night — while the parliamentarians were still wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.
Tension peaked this evening and al-Mustaqbal and Amal members took to their guns and rockets in Ayshah Bakkar. It is, after all, one big laugh. The perpetrators bear full responsibility for the murderous outcome, no doubt. But until they be held responsible for it — which they probably will not — their representatives bear the responsibililty. The murder of an innocent passerby, Zeina M., and the wounding of three others should, therefore, be declared the first act of the parliamentary flying circus.