Domino Effect: The Syrian Civil War Spills Over into Lebanon • Lorenzo Meloni • Magnum Photos

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Domino Effect: The Syrian Civil War Spills Over into Lebanon

Lorenzo Meloni explores the consequences of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, highlighting the human toll of war

Lorenzo Meloni

Lorenzo Meloni Interior of an apartment on Syria Street destroyed by the fights, where the sectarian fights between Sunnis and Shiite are more violent. Tripoli, Lebanon. November, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos

In the north there is a war between the Shi’a and the Sunnis.
In the south lies Israel, the constant enemy.
In the east, the Syrian conflict is overflowing in the country.
In the west lies the sea, a journey with no return for many.

“Will there be a war?” is the question that the Lebanese have been asking for the past three years. ‘Peace’ meanwhile has already killed more than 400 people and injured more than 2000. The Syrian conflict is reflected in the life of every Lebanese.

 

Lorenzo Meloni The funeral of Mohamed, 16 years old. He was a resident of Bab Al Tebbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. August 24, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos
Lorenzo Meloni Two sunni militiamen during the aftermath of a bombing adjacent to the Al-Taqwa Mosque. Tripoli, Lebanon. August, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos
Lorenzo Meloni Relatives of victims of the 'Indonesian boat'. In September around 30 Lebanese sold their properties and paid smugglers to take them by boat to Australia. The boat sank in Indonesian waters, killin (...)
Lorenzo Meloni A young sunni militiaman, Abu Omar, 20, fights Alawite gunmen. Tripoli, Lebanon. October, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos

The solution put in place by the ‘State’ includes military checkpoints where soldiers are ordered to not intervene but are instead asked to be spectators and often victims of stray bullets. This is a ‘security plan’ according to Lebanon, at least until a winner in the lumbering Syrian conflict is established, at which point the Lebanese politicians will finally be able to rejoice in front of microphones and cameras.

When the snipers fail, bombs become necessary. The results of bombs in mosques and markets are not just the dead. The roar of the explosions, the flickering of the glasses, the smell of smoke and the funeral processions remind everyone that every place is a potential frontline. Fear generates further chaos and the dead more revenge. On the explosion sites, there isn’t the Red Cross trying to save lives. Instead there are Sunni or Hezbollah militiamen looking impassively at the scene. Where the State cannot, or does not want to intervene, the flag of security and safety unites the extremists.

Lorenzo Meloni The aftermath of a bomb explosion adjacent to the Al-Taqwa Mosque in the Al-Zahiriya neighborhood. Tripoli, Lebanon. August 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos

Dividi et impera, divide and rule: this is how the State born from the Sykes-Pikot agreement, after 15 years of civil war without a winner, has learned to rule himself.

Sunni and Shi’a Hezbollah militia, very much tied to the Syrian civil war, fight between each other. The terror strategy has created more and more followers in the extremist groups and now a 50 calibre machine gun is considered a tool of defense.

Lorenzo Meloni Two Syrian refugees in a field hospital. Tripoli, Lebanon. July, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos
Lorenzo Meloni Sheik Ahmed Al-Asir inside his flat in Sidon. The Sheik is one of the most important Sunni salafist leaders in Lebanon. Sidon, Lebanon. 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos
Lorenzo Meloni Ahmad, a Syrian fighter of the Katiba Al farouk, in hospital of Arsal. He was wounded by a rocket launched by the Syrian regime forces on the Lebanese border. Arsal, West Beqaa, Lebanon. November, (...)
Lorenzo Meloni Relatives of victims of the 'Indonesian boat'. Tripoli, Lebanon. October, 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos

Because of the constant internal and neighboring conflicts, Lebanon does not yet know the meaning of the word peace. Fifteen million Lebanese have already left the country to look for peace, while others seek every possible way to reach those who have left. The four million Lebanese remaining in the country are increasingly divided into factions. They live in a nation divided into many small ‘territories’ and the one million Syrian refugees currently living in the country could critically influence and change the already delicate internal political balance. Generations of Lebanese people have now been living with war as a constant presence in their lives: nothing surprises them, everything is considered to be normal.

Lorenzo Meloni A woman in a Syrian refugees camp, reproaches a child playing with a plastic gun. West Beqaa, Lebanon. October 2013. © Lorenzo Meloni | Magnum Photos