Lebanese communists arm themselves in Bekaa valley

Lebanese communists arm themselves in Bekaa valley
3 min read
15 June, 2015
Lebanese Communist Party says it is taking defensive action to secure its villages from myriad threats, the latest mobilisation in country scarred by war.
Lebanese Communist party trains and arms its members in the Bekaa valley [Twitter]
The Lebanese flag with a hammer and sickle in the corner... This insignia decorates the camouflage uniforms of a group of men, armed with rifles, in a photo that was recently shared on social media. Could the Lebanese Communist Party be re-arming?

The party is 91 years old. In the 1950s it formed its own military wing, the Popular Guard, which played an active role in the early years of the Lebanese civil war.

In 1982, the party and other leftist and pan-Arab parties and factions formed the Lebanese National Resistance Front to resist the Israeli occupation of the Lebanese capital city Beirut and other Lebanese regions.

However, the communists' influence dwindled in the late 1980s and more so with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Lebanese civil war, which saw most factions officially hand over heavy weaponry, headquarters and barracks to the Lebanese or Syrian armies.

Only some Palestinian militias and Hizballah were allowed to keep their weapons, the latter being a resistance group fighting against Israel's occupation of south Lebanon at that time.

The interest in this photo is the fact that it was taken recently. Leading communist party members have confirmed reports that it has been training and arming members. The aim, they say, is to counter the threat of armed groups, particularly in the Bekaa valley, on the border with Syria.

A leading member of the party told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service: "Our youth and our people will defend themselves and their land in the area and where the terrorist threat lies."

Another leading member of the party told New TV, a Lebanese television station, that the party's armed groups are present in several villages in the north of the Bekaa valley. He added that this step was taken following a central decision to defend border villages in face of militant threats.

Many members of the party have experienced nostalgia for the times when they had more influence and a cause that inspired young people to take to the forests or barren mountains to fight for their country and the working class.

Today, old party cadres are training new ones. The party has found its cause. But who is to say that their recent mobilisation in the Bekaa valley will not see them suffer as they did in the civil war? There is a risk that their defensive move could transform into full involvement in one of the bloodiest wars of this century in Syria.
The Syrian people don't need fighters, and we seek after dialogue as the solution.

Khaled Hadadi, party general secretary.

On the party's website, on June 12, the political bureau released a statement in which they salute the steadfastness of the people of the Bekaa valley and their support for the Lebanese army.

The statement called on communists to "continue with their efforts, increase the level of alertness, and work on securing the best atmosphere and conditions to resist the aggression of terrorist organisations against our people and defend our country's soil."

The party's general secretary, Khaled Hadadi, told al-Akhbar newspaper that the statement had nothing to do with the photo. He also emphasised that the party would not be fighting in Syria and as "the Syrian people don't need fighters, and we seek dialogue as the solution".

The position of the party on what is happening in Syria, and their defensive move, may not seem like a big story. But they are not the only party or group to have decided to arm its members or dig up hidden guns, and there lies the real danger.