Black Lebanon or Red Lebanon

One of the first times I became conscious of the existence of a country called Lebanon was when I was about 15 years old and smoking my first spliff back in Belgium – the hash it contained was called Red Lebanon. In my mostly apolitical early teens (yes, I am that old, we are talking late 70s here), I used to think the civil war in Lebanon was fought between the ‘Reds’ and the ‘Blacks’. (For a comprehensive and lucid explanation of the origins of the civil war, and of Lebanese political history in general, btw, check the excellent article ‘Lebanon for beginners’ at Electronic Intifada). The end of the civil war in Lebanon had a direct effect on Belgium: there was no more hash coming in from that front. From then on, it was mainly Black Afghan (as well as ‘Nederwiet’ – local Dutch-grown weed) that was doing the rounds.

On a more serious note, though, you can probably map out the world’s local and international conflicts on a timescale by documenting the origins of the drugs arriving in the more fortunate parts of the world. I was reminded of all this today when reading an article in ‘al-Akhbar’ entitled: ‘The first day of the hashish attack: gunshots and a “strike” of the tractor drivers’. The Lebanese internal security forces (the police – i.e. the ones in the grey camouflage uniforms, rather than the green ones) were confronted by an armed attack on one of their ‘eradication’ patrols and the tractor drivers they hired to do the actual eradication refused to comply because they had received threats from the farmers. All this is in the West Baalbek and Mount Hermon areas of the (northern) Bekaa valley. The police are nevertheless not planning on giving up on their plan.

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