Conflict Analysis digest
Issue 1, March 2018
January 2018 conflict trends
- January 2018 witnessed a total of 403 incidents which is consistent with December 2017 (402 incidents).
- Out of the 403 conflict incidents mapped, air space violation is the most recurrent with 146 incidents mapped in January 2018. Lebanon witnessed an escalation of tensions with Israel during the past few weeks, notably due to the construction of a contested wall which is seen by the Lebanese state as a violation of its sovereignty. Israel have also been contesting Lebanon’s offshore energy exploration that is occurring on disputed maritime territory.
- 130 incidents were categorised as arrest which is consistent with December’s trend (137 incidents). It is noteworthy to point out that 36% of the arrests were also categorised as illicit trade (43 incidents) with 42% of them relevant to drugs. (See our Conflict Analysis bulletin, issue 9 focusing on illicit trade arrests/operations). Moreover, most of the incidents relevant to drugs involved major smuggling network and were therefore classified as Power and Governance. This indicates that authorities have been targeting prominent drug rings rather than individual users. For instance, one of the major drug operations reported this month, took place on January 11 when ISF managed to arrest 5 members of a drug dealing ring and seize a large amount of drugs during a raid in Aley.
- It is noteworthy to point out that, similar to the previous month, only 2 incidents relevant to Border Conflicts with Syria had a discriminatory nature and were consequently classified as Conflicts of Social Discrimination. Both incidents involved Army raids on Syrian refugees camps in Koura and Sour. This low number could be attributed to the relative improvement of the legal status for Syrian refugees with a decision issued at the beginning of the year that abolished the renewal fees to maintain residency in the country for registered refugees. The decision may appear to have improved the legal situation of many Syrian refugees, contributing to reducing the threat of being arrested for illegal stay. However, it is noteworthy to mention that social discrimination against refugees remains underreported, and that moreover, 74% of the refugees still do not have legal residency.
- 8 incidents mapped were categorised as gender based violence mainly relevant to domestic violence. For instance, on January 22, Nada Bahlawan was shot dead by her husband at her house in Ras el-Nabaa. Following this incident, a protest, was organised by KAFA and aimed at denouncing the inaction of the state towards such crimes against women. A statement that was signed by several civil society actors such as KAFA, Beirut Madinati, Lebanese Council for Women, and Libaladi also emphasised the apathy of the State concerning this issue: “Women are dying one after the other because of inaction by the legislative, executive and judicial powers that don’t consider this to be a priority issue”. It is noteworthy to point out that since the amendment of Law 293 in 2014 to protect women against violence, the number of reports for such crimes has been increasing. However, these numbers still considerably understate the scale of the problem given the underreporting of this crime. (See here the mapping of incidents of violence against women in Lebanon). All of this indicates the systemic nature of gender based violence and violence against women in the country.
- The number of collective actions (34 incidents) remained almost constant in comparison to December 2017 (31 incidents). 32% of them were classified as Conflicts of Socio-Economic Development (11 incidents), mainly relevant to EDL workers protesting against unpaid wages, but also UNRWA employees striking across Lebanon over the agency response following US cuts with controversial measures such as blocking contract workers from obtaining long-term employment . EDL workers have been continuously protesting for the past couple of years demanding full-time employment among other grievances in order to improve their socio-economic situation. Although, their protests were less frequent in 2017 due to the ongoing negotiations at the state level to implement a salary scale that would improve their working conditions, during January, they rallied no less than 4 times after the state failure to address their concerns.
Focus on: collective actions in support of Berri
Lebanon witnessed an escalation of tensions at the end of the month, after the leak of a video showing Foreign Minister and head of the FPM, Gebran Bassil, calling Parliament speaker Nabih Berri a “baltaji” or “thug”.The video emerged amid political tensions between President Michel Aoun and Berri over a decree concerning the promotion of a number of Army officers. In fact, the video triggered a surge of collective actions (12 incidents) in support of Berri over the course of 3 days, within Beirut and in the South (see the map of collective actions in Lebanon). During the first day, on January 29, protesters blocked some main roads in Beirut and its suburbs with burning tires causing heavy traffic jams in the capital. Also, gunfire was heard near FPM offices in Mirna Chalouhi, with both parties blaming each other, which caused the Army and security forces to deploy around the centre in order to restore the calm and control the situation. A similar incident happened the next day when Amal supporters started shooting in the air while FPM supporters came to the scene carrying their own weapons. This violent confrontation was seen by many as a threat to Lebanon’s stability, and as igniting sectarian tensions few months before Parliamentary elections in May.
On the 3rd day, Berri supporters rallied across Beirut and Sour blocking the roads in both areas. It is also noteworthy to point out that during these demonstrations, pictures of President Michel Aoun were taken down and destroyed by protesters.
It is noteworthy to point out that these incidents were reflective of an old antagonism between Aoun and Berri dating from the civil war (1975-90), and revealed the fragility of Lebanon faction-based politics.
About the digest:
The Conflict Analysis digest, is part of the Conflict Analysis Project, an initiative by Lebanon Support, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and available on the Civil Society Knowledge Centre (CSKC), Lebanon Support’s knowledge platform. The Conflict Analysis Project aims to make available and accessible information and research about conflicts in Lebanon, in order to better understand their underlying causes, and inform interventions and policy-making.
Going beyond the view of conflict through a security framework associated with belligerency and violence, Lebanon Support upholds that conflict is of a socio-political nature. It thus sheds light on dynamics underlying a broad spectrum of violent and non violent contentions including social movements, passing by conflicts opposing minorities (ethnic, religious or sexual among others) as well as local, national or regional actors’ policies. Read more and check the interactive conflict map here.