I was awakened at 5.30 AM this morning by a deafening crash, the kind that haplessly tears you out of your sleep, and out onto the balcony before you gain full consciousness. I am often very confused in the morning and thought perhaps my phone rang, or the unhinged kitchen cabinets came crashing down, until another bomb --they usually come in pairs-- dropped. Even after 27 days, I invent excuses for the rude awakening. Since it was dawn, I could see the smoke rising from the general vicinity of the south-eastern suburbs, and heard dogs barking; but I don’t know why they were so much louder than usual. And there was no electricity to watch TV to find out.
Arab foreign ministers have gathered in Beirut today to discuss the current crisis. For the occasion, the Lebanese Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat honored the democratic regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt by placing a ban on public demonstrations for the day. There was a protest planned against the pro-American Arab regimes outside the UN, near the Grand Serail where the meeting is being held; about 20 people showed up, only to be chased up the street by the army.
There is a 1km line of cars waiting to get gas on Hamra Street. Some of the drivers are pushing their cars, others leave and go for coffee or a sandwich while they wait. Hospitals announced yesterday that they have less than a week’s supply of fuel. The owner of Cafe Younes only has a ten day supply of coffee left. Water is scarce, and Sukleen is paying Lebanese the handsome wage of $25 per day to clean their streets, in lieu of the Syrian and other low-wage workers.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saniora is crying on TV again. Somebody tell him there's an acute Kleenex shortage, and that we're expecting many more grieving mothers, who should have first dibs on the scant supply.
To compensate for the relative ease of my life in besieged Beirut, I mutilate my senses every night --electricity willing-- with a dose of CNN. Last night's highlight was the riveting special, the "Arab Anger Edition". Fifteen minutes of coverage for the 12 IDF reservists who were killed after they failed to heed a warning that rockets were about to descend on their location, was followed-- not by an account of the 17 Lebanese civilian casualties-- but by a segment on how Arabs are, by nature, angry. CNN should merge with National Geographic, or at least call upon an anthropologist or two to elucidate this phenomenon.
News update: Not only did Israel threaten to liquidate Nasrallah today (which makes it sound so easy; just drop him in a jar of sulfuric acid) but they even "captured" a portrait of him. That's dash cunning of them. There’s only like 30 portraits of Nasrallah in every village in southern Lebanon. What will they demand in exchange for the portrait? Will Nasrallah surrender to secure its release? Stay tuned to CNN to find out.