After two dangerous escalations in the Palestinian refugee camp of Burj al-Shammali, near the Lebanese city of Tyre, the country’s most notorious living warlord, Samir Geaga, seeks escalation and attempts to build his Party’s strength.
On December 10 an explosion rocked one of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps, known as Burj al-Shammali. As a result, a member of the Hamas party in Lebanon, Hamza Shaheen, was killed. What truly happened is difficult to say, but the two narratives from opposing sides of the Arab media are clear; Saudi and UAE media stated that scores of civilians [as many as 13] had been killed when Hamas weapons exploded; whereas Hamas and camp officials say that a technical error caused oxygen cylinders to explode.
It was clear that Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya, which attempted to make the issue more serious than it actually turned out to be, was making up false claims. However the explosion did seem to be ammunition and not oxygen cylinders that were stored for medical usages.
Following this incident, the leader of the ‘Lebanese Forces’ militia/party and notorious warlord, Samir Geagea, pounced on the issue to instigate tensions, calling for an investigation by the Lebanese government to “determine who was responsible”.
Then, on December 12, during the funeral of Hamza Shaheen — killed in the explosion that Friday — armed Fatah Party aligned thugs opened fire on thousands of mourners, killing 4 and injuring 6. The massacre could have easily sparked retaliatory violence, as the Fatah gunmen opened fire on Hamas supporters. In the crowd of mourners were also leading officials from both Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Lebanese Forces, commanded by Geagea, are now agitating the situation, and prominent right-wing Lebanese figures are calling on the country’s army to forcibly remove all weapons in the Palestinian refugee camps. The biggest fear is that Samir Geagea will try and capitalize on this right-wing sentiment to use his 15,000 strong militia to commit a massacre.
Samir Geagea, should be in prison serving four life sentences after being convicted of murder, but was pardoned in 2005. His history is a bloody one, having left his studies in the American University of Beirut to join the Phalange Party, infamously responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres under Israeli supervision. Geagea became synonymous with the 15-year-long Lebanese civil war and as a senior member of Bashir Gemayel’s Phalange, received training in Israel. The Phalange was both armed and financially supported by Israel at the time and as bloody as the groups tactics were, Geagea’s personal militia forces were known as one of the worst.
Samir Geagea later wrestled control of the right-wing fascist militia known as Lebanese Forces (LF), in 1989. Influenced by hardline Christian fanaticism, he used the same ideology which allowed for him to ethnically cleanse Muslims and Druze communities, massacring innocent civilians, to turn the guns on fellow Christians loyal to General Michel Aoun.
The history of Geagea is clear, and he now seeks to expand his militia/political party at the 2022 elections and use his Saudi and Emirati backing to start a civil war. Earlier this October, Samir Geagea’s men were accused of gunning down seven unarmed Lebanese protesters belonging to the Shia groups known as Hezbollah and Amal. He was called in for an official investigation and missed his hearing.
He now seeks to use the nationalist sentiment of fellow Lebanese Christians in order to recruit them for a fascist crusade against Hezbollah. It was revealed through a Wikileaks released cable, that in 2008 Geagea stated that he had up to 10,000 men ready to take on Lebanese Hezbollah. Now it seems that after a short run-in with Hezbollah’s civilian supporters, and a serious telling-off by Hezbollah leader, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, he may be seeking other options in order to use his UAE-Saudi backing for the purpose of bringing about civil war in Lebanon.
If he is able to mobilize enough people against the Palestinian refugees and turn this into a hatred of Lebanese Hezbollah for allowing weapons to exist in the refugee camps, it is possible that his support base may grow.
So, what does Western media think about all of this? Well, Reuters interviews Samir Geagea as an expert voice uncritically — and he was not even named by most Western media outlets in October when his forces were responsible for firing from rooftops against unarmed protesters. The reality is that this fascist religious fanatic is being given a free hand while being directly backed by Western allied countries. If he is able to grow any larger, he could become the architect of another Lebanese civil war, which is essentially the only thing he has ever been good at.