25 April 2015

Roumieh hostage crisis: A microcosm of Lebanon's broken state

Middle East Eye

This past winter, the word on the street in Lebanon was that the country was in for an eventful spring.
First there was the prediction of a full-out war with jihadists along Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria - although this appears to have been slightly delayed thanks to climate change, which continues to make a mockery of springtime and thwart ideal battle conditions with cold and snow.
The forecast then grew to include a resumption of political assassinations, with Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk citing ambiguous reports to that effect. To be sure, Lebanon’s perpetually afflicted nature means that any prediction of bad things happening is almost guaranteed validation - hence, perhaps, the success of the domestic clairvoyant industry.
Not foreseen in the spring schedule was the latest hostage crisis, which was a bit out of the ordinary even for a country superbly acquainted with the tradition of hostage-taking.
On 17 April, the news emerged that a number of prison guards were being held by inmates at Lebanon’s Roumieh jail north of Beirut. The figures varied, but most media outlets ultimately reported between 14 and 20 prison security personnel and other staff taken hostage. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.