Lebanon marks civil war’s 40th anniversary

Lebanon marks civil war’s 40th anniversary

BEIRUT – Agence France-Presse
Lebanon marks civil war’s 40th anniversary

Christian and Muslim clerics gather at Martyrs? square in downtown Beirut on April 12, 2015, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the beginning of Lebanon's civil war. AFP Photo

Several Lebanese leaders on April 13 warned that the lessons of the country’s civil war should not be forgotten, 40 years after the 15-year conflict began.

April 13 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1975 conflict, in which 150,000 people were killed before a peace deal was reached in 1990.

The war ravaged the country and left 17,000 people missing, but an amnesty law allowed many of its key protagonists to subsequently become leading political figures.

Among them is Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who acknowledged that his opinion on the conflict could not be considered “fair or objective.”

“I was one of the factions driven by fanaticism and hatred,” he wrote on his official Twitter account.

“My advice to (my son) Taymur and every Lebanese youth is to beware of violence and ignorance,” he said.

Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi tweeted that the anniversary was a reminder of the war’s “lesson to all Lebanese to protect their country and nation and reject violence and death”.

Other leaders, including former prime minister Saad Hariri, whose father was a leading post-war premier who was assassinated in 2005, warned Lebanese citizens to ensure the conflict would not be repeated.

“Never again, we will never allow it to return,” Hariri said in a statement, warning that Lebanon should be protected from “the furnace of Arab wars.”

“We cannot protect Lebanon if we do not stop surrounding fires from reaching it, or worse, if we keep throwing ourselves into their flames,” he said.

His father Rafiq Hariri led the reconstruction of Lebanon after the civil war and was killed in a massive bomb attack.

Hariri’s killing is just one example of the violence that has continued to shake Lebanon in its post-war period, contributing to ongoing fragility.

Sectarian divides in Lebanon have also been aggravated by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Many of Lebanon’s Sunnis back the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, while Lebanese Shiites, including the powerful Hezbollah movement, support the ruling regime in Damascus.

Lebanon’s political class remains divided and stagnant, with stalemate in parliament meaning the post of president has been empty since May, when Michel Sleiman’s mandate ended.