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TRIPOLI: THE QUIET CHAOS

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    A general view of the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen and the Sunni cemetery of the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    A street view in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh near Syria Street. In the the last few years, this has been the scene of bloody clashes between Sunnis and Alawites. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The gate of the souk (shopping bazaar) in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which was shelled in October of 2014 by the Lebanese Army. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    On the 23 of August 2013 two mosques were bombed in Tripoli, Lebanon. 47 were killed and five hundred injured in what has been called the "biggest and deadliest" bombing in Tripoli since the end of Lebanon's civil war. This is what remains of a blasted car, it has become a monument in memory of the victims. It was built in front of the Mosque Al-Taqwa. Tripoli Lebanon November/December 2014
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    Um Mustapha, 27, lives in an house close to the gate of the souk (shopping bazaar) in the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh shelled in October 2014 by the Lebanese Army. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The streets of Tripoli, the largest town in northern Lebanon. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but some reports put the actual figure much higher. Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war on October 22, 2014. An old man lives in the informal camp of Syrian refugees Minieh 1 in the Minieh suburb of Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but some reports put the actual figure much higher. Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war on October 22, 2014.. In the picture Syrian refugees arrive at the UNHCR center in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Students attending a lesson at the Dar al-Salam elementary school in the sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh which was shelled last October by the Lebanese Army. On the wall the holes made during the last bombing. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Alia Khadour, 62, on the balcony of her home in the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. Her appartement is placed just in front of the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and has been damaged by snipers during the last round of fighting. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli. A general view of the buildings close to the border of the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Living conditions are very hard for the residents. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    A fighter showing his AK 47s in Sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The gate of the old souk (shopping bazar) in Tripoli. Seen here is a poster of the billionaire, Najib Mikati, former Prime Minister of Lebanon. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli, general view of the buildings close to the border of the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Living conditions are very hard for the residents. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but some reports put the actual figure much higher. Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war on October 22, 2014. The entrance of a tent in the Syrian refugee camp of Minieh 1 in the Minieh suburb of Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The Lebanese Army took control of the streets in Tripoli in December of 2013 by the order of the Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam. Since then, deadly clashes with Salafist fighters occurred in October 2014. The fighting caused major damage to the impoverished Sunni district of Bab al-Tebbaneh. An army patrol controls the streets in Bab-al-Tebbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but some reports put the actual figure much higher. Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war on October 22, 2014. A woman rests in the middle of sheets hanging to dry in the Syrian refugee camp of Minieh 2, in Minieh in the outskirts of Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Ahmad, 33, holds the the baby of his friend Ahmad, 30, a father of six, in Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    In the streets of the Sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The sheikh leads Friday prayers the Salafi mosque of Al-Taqwa in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Sheikh Salem Rifai is the religious leader of the salafist mosque Al-Taqwa in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Mohammad Abrashh, a street artist, stands in front of one of his painted wall in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Fatima 66 lives in Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli. Here is a general view of the buildings close to the border with the sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Living conditions are very hard for the residents. Fatima shows the results of the fighting on the stairs of her apartment. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Malek Ali 52 , who lost his job because of the clashes, lives in a destroyed building in Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli, close to the border of the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Living conditions are very hard for the residents. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    A young boy smokes his shisha in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    A woman with her son in the medical center of MSF (Doctor without borders) in Bab al-Tabbaneh. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Mahmoud Abouss, 45, sits with his daughter. He lost his leg during the Lebanese Army bombing on Sunday, October 26, 2014 on the Sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh.
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    A woman smokes shisha in a bar in the Azme neighborhood in Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Child labor is widespread in the city of Tripoli. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli, general view of the buildings close to the border with the sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Conditions of life are very hard fo the people living in there. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Jabal Mohsen, an Alawite enclave in Tripoli, general view of the buildings close to the border with the sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Conditions of life are very hard fo the people living in there. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but report says officials put the figure much higher.Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war, wednsday 22 th of October 2014. A syrian family of six people living in a destroyed building in the center of Tripoli. Tripoli Lebanon November/December 2014
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    Child labor is widespread in the city of Tripoli.Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Some 1.13 million Syrians have registered as refugees with the UN in Lebanon, but some reports put the actual figure much higher. Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war on October 22, 2014.. A father with his son in an informal refugee camp in Enfe the southest outskirt of Tripoli.Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The streets of Al Mina, a Christian neighborhood in Tripoli.Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    In the streets on the sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli.Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    The streets of the Sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli.Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Adel cleans what remains of his supermarket which was destroyed by the shelling of Bab al-Tabbaneh, a Sunni neighborhood, by the Lebanese Army, in October of 2014. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
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    Ali Assi an Alawite, 53 years old, goes back home to Jabal Mohnes, where he lives alone after the loss of his wife (a Sunni) and his son, who was killed age of 22. Tripoli, Lebanon. November/December 2014.
Tripoli: The Quiet Chaos

They are enemy-brothers, two neighborhoods of Tripoli separated by a dividing line that carries an allegorical name: Syria Street.

On either side of this urban jungle, the community of Bab al Tabbaneh, populated by Sunnis in favor of the rebellion of their co-religionists against Damascus, face that of Jabal Mohsen, the Alawites who support the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the same confession.

The conflict in Syria has polarized these two neighborhoods. Verbal escalation has shifted, little by little, to attacks and street violence. This contagion has produced nearly 200 dead and hundreds wounded since March of 2011, not counting those residents who went to fight in Syria. The more violent clashes revive older rifts, actualizing old dividing lines between populations.

Bab al Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen are concentrates of unhealed wounds and revenge yet to be taken, going back to the days of the Lebanese Civil War where the two communities clashed and the Sunni inhabitants were massacred by the Syrian army, with help from their Alawite neighbors.

More than by religious differences, the cycle of violence is maintained by national and Middle Eastern political actors who use this area as a “post box” battlefield, instrumentalizing the two communities to influence the destiny of the country or exploit them to send a message to an enemy nation. (See: Qatar and Saudi Arabia versus Iran)

The Sunni party Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and Saudi Arabia support the people of Jab el Tebbaneh while Hezbollah and Iran are funding those of Jabal Mohsen. As far as the ideology goes, there is the need to maintain these relationships and the “military militia” culture. The two communities have much in common: they are neglected by the central state and face the same misery. They are virtually absent of public services and schooling, and unemployment continues to rise. The militias are a natural outcome for the battalions of young who are doomed to a life of poverty.

Faced with this economy of violence, few voices are working to build bridges and bring the communities together. But the are a rare few. The multi-faith Lebanese army, which has patrolled the streets of both neighborhoods since April, tries to play distant referee while working to preserve the cohesion.

There is a simple truce between the two neighborhoods, but conflict is ready to flare up again. Bab al Tabbaneh and Jabal Mosen, are a parable of contemporary Lebanon, the incarnation of the evils and challenges of the country of the cedar tree.

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