Tripoli a tale of two cities

Over the past eight years, 200 people have been killed in clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Exacerbated by the civil war in Syria, the violence between the Sunni neighbourhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighbourhood of Jabal Mohsen was curtailed by the entrance of the Lebanese army in 2014, but tensions persist.

The people of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen are still struggling to reconcile after decades of anguish. The two communities were first divided over Syria’s interference in the country in 1976, one of the earliest developments of Lebanon’s 15-year Civil War. The area witnessed harrowing repression under Syrian control, including a massacre in Bab al-Tabbaneh in 1986. The Alawite community in Lebanon faced state discrimination for decades until they were finally recognized as an official sect after the Civil War, enabling residents to acquire a semblance of employment and political representation in the country.

This history of mutual suffering has fostered reactionary movements while empowering gangs and extremist groups – many of which lure disadvantaged children and young men into their ranks.