Lebanon Marks Independence Day Amid Unprecedented Challenges

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  • W460
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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Lebanon celebrated Independence Day on Thursday with several challenges facing the country, including fears that conflict in neighboring Syria would further heighten deep rivalries, and efforts to keep the southern border with Israel calm despite an Israeli offensive on Gaza that ended with a ceasefire on Wednesday.

The country marked 69 years of independence with an official ceremony staged in downtown Beirut.

Streets leading to the area were cordoned off for the ceremony which was attended by President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, diplomats and other dignitaries.

March 14 alliance officials, including al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc leader Fouad Saniora and Phalange party chief Amin Gemayel, attended the military parade that was held at Shafiq Wazzan Avenue despite a decision by the opposition to boycott all parliamentary activity and government work over the Oct. 19 assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch chief Wissam al-Hasan.

The March 14 opposition blamed the government for al-Hasan's killing in a car bomb explosion in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district and pointed its finger at Syria.

Lebanon is divided between pro and anti-Syrian regime factions, a legacy of the nearly three decades when Damascus all but ruled Lebanon, until 2005. The government is led by the March 8 alliance, in which Syrian President Bashar Assad's ally, Hizbullah, is a major component.

During the Independence Day parade on Thursday, hundreds of red, white and green balloons were launched skywards after military helicopters overflew marching soldiers.

Suleiman, Berri and Miqati later headed to Baabda palace where they received well-wishers.

Lebanese Independence Day commemorates the country's liberation in 1943 after 23 years of governance by French Mandate that succeeded Ottoman rule.

But Lebanon still suffers from sectarian tension and deep rivalries between the different factions over their foreign affiliations. Several Beirut neighborhoods and the northern city of Tripoli have seen repeated clashes between the parties backing the Assad regime and those supporting the revolution against him.

Two rockets that were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel on Wednesday also showed how the country is vulnerable to conflicts outside its borders.

While the rockets fell short and landed near the border with Israel, the attack added another challenge to the Hizbullah-led government that prefers to stay firmly on the sidelines of the Israel-Gaza conflict that erupted on Nov. 14 when when Israel killed a senior Hamas field commander.

A ceasefire took hold Thursday in and around Gaza after a week of cross-border violence.

Comments 20
Missing phillipo 22 November 2012, 08:42

May I take this opportunity to wish the Republic of Lebanon a very Happy Independence Day, and wish the people of Lebanon and very peaceful future.

Default-user-icon Truth (Guest) 22 November 2012, 08:59

Many Lebanese wish, especially the older generation, France never left the country ! Independance day, is celebrated against a loved country, that many people long to visit and become nationals of ! Except those of course, for whom the ideal world is that of the Wilayet al faqih !

Missing chouf3 22 November 2012, 09:29

God bless Lebanon and the army,thanks for the positive comment phillipo.

Missing phillipo 22 November 2012, 14:56

I will always give positive comments to anyone who believes in PEACE not PIECE.
May PEACE reign in Lebanon and all the Middle East, we've seen enough of PIECES of military material from the wars fought over the last century.

Thumb arzak-ya-libnan 22 November 2012, 10:37

Today is the day all the Lebanese were denied the French citizenship.. Happy Lebanese "Independence" Day. haha

Thumb lebnanfirst 22 November 2012, 10:46

عشتم و عاش لبنان many happy returns.

Default-user-icon Elie (Guest) 22 November 2012, 11:00

boullmich.. ive seen stupid people on planet earth, but i have never seen anyone as stupid as your stupid head.first off your name says it all. second of all. you stupid thing, cuz im not sure if you're human, what freakin independence r u talking about ? hizbollah's independence from the lebanese authorities ? or the aounist independence from the christian sector ? or 8 march's independence from the world as humans ? i think you are celebrating all three today. god bless you sweet thing...

Thumb benzona 22 November 2012, 11:07

Nô thumb down today to anyone. Happy eid istiklal everyone. May Allah give us the strength to push off the last invaders off Lebanon for good.

Thumb benzona 22 November 2012, 11:08

Khafeef, you're right. It's today :-)

Default-user-icon Kees (Guest) 22 November 2012, 11:30

Happy Independence Day Lebanon!! Wishing all the people of this great country a happy and peaceful time for centuries to come.

UNIFIL Dutchbatt 1983

Thumb shab 22 November 2012, 13:56

عشتم وعاش لبنان

Missing peace 22 November 2012, 14:18

independance day? lol....

Thumb lebanon_first 22 November 2012, 15:45

nice toys on show... But today what we need is a cctv system all over the country, intelligence apparatus and the like.
The horses are nice, but shouldnt really be here

Thumb independent 22 November 2012, 15:57

My parents moved to Canada when I was a year old. I can barely read and wright arabic. I have made an obligation for my self to go to Lebanon every year. It is a country with a tremendous potential. I hope one day only one date will be celebrate it, November 22nd. To the people in Lebanon, stay strong and preserve this heaven for us and our kids.

Thumb bigsami 22 November 2012, 17:03

Now that is a picture of proud Lebanese hold the one & only cedar of Lebanon flag. Burn that Iranian imposter piss-yellow flag!

Thumb lebanon_first 22 November 2012, 20:19

i wonder who can downthumb a comment like that...

Thumb bigsami 23 November 2012, 04:48

To answer you lebanon_first....here's a hint: naive religious extremist who froze in time and still won't accept the fact that HA is nothing but a branch of Iranian control.

Missing youssefhaddad 22 November 2012, 20:22

These parades are the trademark of third world regimes and dictatorships. They are a waste of money and a prove of shallowness.
As for the independence are we sure Lebanon is independent?

Default-user-icon leb (Guest) 23 November 2012, 20:15

There are such parades in every of the first world countries

Missing gabby9 23 November 2012, 04:05

We need independence from Iran, Syria, and Hizbcocaine.