Jabal Mohsen & Bab al-Tabanneh: the aftermath…

Or the pointlessness of fighting another man’s war… Mitch Prothero writing in The National: ‘“We have lost most of our businesses and so have the Syrians,” Abu Ahmad said, as his grimy workmen smoke cigarettes and drink bitter coffee in the dark workshop. Abu Ahmad’s employees all volunteered to fight last summer, but none show any appetite for violence today. “There is no economy in here now and we are the poorest area in the world,” said Moustapha Zoubi, 42. “The only thing people live on is some vegetables that they sell and some are related to political groups where they get small amounts of money out of them, but nothing much, maybe US$100 (Dh367) per month.” Mr Zoubi said the fallout from the fighting hurt the people of Jabal at least as badly as the Sunnis in Beb al Tibani because of the nature of Tripoli’s economy. “The Allawites were more affected because most of them own shops in Beb al Tibani and many of them go down here to work, so last summer when the war was on, none of them could come down, plus the men from Tibani were raging about what the Allawites and Hizbollah had done [in Beirut last May] so they burnt every single shop, store and business that was owned by an Allawite here in Tibani. Yes, economically they lost a lot. We did too, because people who come from Tripoli or Akkar to shop in Tibani were afraid, and even after the clashes were over people are still hesitating to come.” That take on the situation means, according to Mr Zoubi, that hardly anyone can afford to fight and that the current economy relies on the elections, where young men are often hired to place political posters around the city. “I have no job and neither do the Syrians,” said Mazen, an unemployed labourer who makes money by putting up posters for both the majority and opposition. “People all thought that if we fought the Syrians, we would be rewarded by our Sunni leaders,” he adds. “But now we never see them except on posters. Why don’t they help us with the jobs we lost while fighting for them? That’s why I will put up posters from both sides as long as they pay.”’

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