Events on the ground and information garnered from various sources confirm that the Christians of Lebanon have begun re-arming and training and re-building their militias. Some of the training is taking place in Israel and in Jordan, under the supervision of American and Australian military personnel.
Weapons caches that were sealed in 1990 following the signing of the Taef Accord and the supposed dismantling of all militias, have been reopened and re-stocked in the remote mountain highlands of the Christian hinterland, particularly in those areas where the Hezbollah terror organization has made inroads during the past two decades, such as the highlands of the Byblos and Batroun districts. The few Shiite pockets (in Shiite villages isolated among Christian villages) are under surveillance, and are said to be the first targets of a confrontation between Hezbollah on one hand, and the Lebanese Army and the Christian resistance on the other hand, in a scenario reminiscent of the events of the 1970s where the PLO was the foreign destabilizing element in lieu of the Iranian Hezbollah today.
The Taif Accord stipulated the disarming and disbanding of all militias. Everyone acquiesced and complied - at least to a substantial extent - with all Sunni, Christian, and Druse militias abolished and converted to political parties. Except, that is, the Shiite Hezbollah and Amal militias who were operating under Syrian and Iranian control. With the PLO annihilated and expelled from Lebanon, the Syrian-Iranian tandem needed a substitute proxy with which to continue destabilizing Lebanon, and they created Hezbollah which took over the terror mantle from the PLO and continued the torment of the country. Since the early 1980s, Hezbollah has waged a campaign of terror, domestically, regionally and internationally: Kidnappings, assassinations, bombings, hijackings, etc.... All the other sects in Lebanon have waited patiently for Hezbollah to reintegrate the democratic process and abandon its wayward mercenary ways. But things rached a climax over the past several months, as Hezbollah's enagagement in the Syrian war turned the tables on the remaining modicum of understanding. Hezbollah's indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister and Syrian collaborator Rafik Hariri has also raised the ire of the Sunni community which is now ready to engage Hezbollah in an open civil war.
The impending Shiite-Sunni bloodbath in Lebanon has raised questions as to the fate of the last free Christian community in the entire East: The Lebanese Christians. If Lebanon becomes the stage - like Iraq - of a bloodly Sunni-Shiite confrontation, will the Christians of Lebanon suffer the same fate as the Christians of Iraq whose numbers have dwindled dramatically by migration, forced exile, murder, bombings....? The short answer is probably no. The Christians of Lebanon are tougher, the terrain in Lebanon is much more difficult than in Iraq, and the Lebanese Christians have been tested before. Even though they lost the 1970s-1980s war, they managed to hold on to significant power in the new political structure that emerged from the Taif Accord.
Yet, one factor is unsettling enough to raise the anxiety level within the Christian community, and that is the Sunni fundamentalist movements (which were non-existent in the 1970s) and the Syrian civil war with its dispatch of up to one million Syrian refugees into Lebanon. All of this has ushered the re-arming and the re-forming of the Christian Lebanese militias, as a preemptive measure to deter any ideas that Islamic fundamentalists might be contemplating, namely to attack the Christian community.
Signs of this Christian re-arming are becoming increasingly visible. A few days ago, a Hezbollah demonstration started out of the Shiite enclave of Fanar Zeaytriyeh nestled within the Christian northern suburbs of Beirut in Fanar and Jdeideh. As the loud and threatening demonstration was brandishing portraits of BAshar Assad and Iranian celrics, it walked into the Christian neighborhood and approached a Christian church. Whereas in the past, it would have made its way unhindered and unchallenged, this time, there was a sudden appearance of large numbers of military-dressed miltiamen standing guard in front of the church and blocking further access by the Hezbollah demonstrators. The militiamen appeared to be a professional group, rather than a band of local vigilantes, dressed in professional military garb and armed with combat weapons. This apparently had the effect of discouraging the Hezbollah demonstrators who returned to their enclave.
A telltale sign that Lebanon is on the verge of a repeat of the 1970s civil war, but this time it will be the final battle. Why? Beacuse the world today knows who its real enemy is, and it is not the Christians of Lebanon.