Líbano? Hanói ou Hong-Kong?

There is a duality that has defined Lebanon. Would Lebanon choose to be Hanoi or Hong Kong? That is, an international symbol of militancy and armed struggle, or a business entrepôt, a bastion of liberal capitalism and ecumenical permissiveness?

Lebanon today lies ravaged, its inhabitants suffering the consequences of Hezbollah's hubris and Israel's retribution. Beirut seems empty.
Israel may have hoped to unite the Lebanese people against Hezbollah. But as recriminations over the war spread, the delivery of aid across group lines will become more difficult, frustration will mount.
Coexistence, freedom and entrepreneurial drive had been the state of the country between independence in 1943 and the start of the civil war in 1975 and even beyond.

Many of the clichés were true: a neighborhood firefight might break out between militias in the morning, but by the end of the day people would be repairing their damaged properties. The Lebanese could be infuriatingly anarchic, stupidly selfish, but they were also determined to take initiatives and embrace new departures.
From the moment of Hariri's assassination on Feb. 14, 2005, it was clear that the Shiite political parties, particularly Hezbollah, did not share in the national distress. Shiites represent perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the Lebanese population. Hezbollah had gradually won over a large majority of the community, particularly poorer Shiites
In the early 1980's, the ''Party of God'' was a loose collection of groups organized and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and dedicated to fighting Israel. After vanquishing its Shiite rival, the Amal movement, in fierce street fights, Hezbollah established in the southern suburbs of Beirut. When the civil war ended in 1990, it was virtually the only armed group allowed to retain its weapons. Syria had its own reasons to keep Hezbollah armed: as it negotiated with Israel for the return of the Golan Heights, the Assad regime wanted all the military leverage it could get

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