Monday, June 11, 2012

Robert Fisk: In Tripoli, posters of martyrs in the market place say it all – and more are on the way

The posters, as usual, say it all. There are a new clutch of martyrs above the Tripoli market, Sunni Muslims all – Khodr al-Masri’s grim face is that of a man who seems to have guessed his fate earlier this month – while round the corner, at the edge of Syria Street, President Bashar al-Assad beams down upon me. “Syria, Assad,” it says. “God is protecting Syria.” I drop into the little office of the Arab Democratic Party, black plastic, fake-leather sofa, black plastic armchairs, black laminated desk, all very fetching, and I ask Ali Fhoda – at 29, the youngest member of the party – if he’s met Bashar. “I wish,” he says. Time running out, I say to myself.
Ali is, of course, an Alawite – the Shia sect of his hero Bashar – and here on the little hill of Jebel Mohsen, one of the slummiest areas of Tripoli, most of the Lebanese city’s 60,000 Alawite poor live. If you believe the Sunni lot, it’s a bastion of Syrian secret policemen and Iranian Revolutionary Guards pouring gunfire into the Sunni district of Bab el-Tabaneh in a Bashar-oriented attempt to spread Syria’s civil war into Lebanon. If you believe Ali – and I’ll come to that in a moment – it’s a lone and poorly armed suburb, surrounded and under constant mortar and bazooka fire from the Sunnis and their rebel allies in Syria, along with Saudi and Qatari “jihadis” who are trying to drive the Alawite lot out of Tripoli.

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