“This was the peak, and this was the shock. I always compare this to 9-11 in the city of Tripoli, this twin explosion that took place.”

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Episode notes

Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city, has experienced considerable violence ever since the end of the national civil war in 1990.

But this escalated dramatically with the onset of the Syrian civil war. Pitched neighbourhood-level fighting  led up to the shock car-bombing of the al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in 2013.

The central government responded with an army-imposed security plan which tamped down violence, but there’s been little progress since on the underlying conflict dynamics.

Stepping into this gap, Bilal co-founded a series of community dialogues that ended up as the Roadmap for Reconciliation in Tripoli. The idea was a sort of open-source diagnostic that could be the basis for citizen action.

We get into the ways and means and ends, including:

  • how a city with so much historical significance and economic potential can get left behind in national politics;
  • the limitations of a “negative peace” against a background of decades of social trauma; and
  • what makes a bottom-up process succeed or fail in a charged political environment.