Warlords of Tripoli

2014 ,    »  -   48 Comments
Ratings: 8.08/10 from 59 users.

Welcome to Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city and a town living on the brink of chaos. Tripoli's only an hour-drive north of the glittering boutiques and flash nightclubs in Beirut but it's a completely different world. Like neighboring Syria, Tripoli is a predominantly Sunni Muslim city in a battle with Alawite minority who support the Assad regime.

Just one street, ironically called Syria Street, separates the two warring communities. Now it looks like the conflict in Syria is threatening to spill over into Lebanon and Tripoli's ready to explode.

You can hear a celebratory gunfight as you come into the center of the city. Local Sunnis are celebrating the return of a prominent Sunni militia commander after months in exile. It's Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar. But in Tripoli the celebrations are unusually muted. No one has any money and everyone's dreading the outbreak of major clashes between the Sunnis and Alawites.

Tensions between the two neighborhoods are higher than ever before. Even the smallest incident can spiral out of control, petting the two communities against each other in street battle. The war in Syria is pushing bordering Lebanon on the verge of the endless-war-horror-pit, and nowhere is the increasing anarchy more obvious than in the second city of Tripoli. The country's weak administration is obviously unable to stop this hostile street fighting.

With legislation no longer existent in Tripoli, warlords like Sunni commander Ziad Allouki are now the city's real kings, so VICE was socializing with him and his combatants for a while to find out why they're fighting, and whether the country really is on the brink of civil war.

More great documentaries

48 Comments / User Reviews

  1. John Marus

    I'm not sure what I should do with this information other than consider this a really pathetic situation for both sides without any clear resolve for the future.

    A couple of questions: Where's the money coming from to buy all the guns, bullets and food (no one appears to be working) and perhaps more importantly, who is buying all the toy guns for the kids? I think it's time the men turned this over to woman leadership since they have proved ineffective. This is such a hateful situation, too bad VICE didn't have anything to offer regarding proposed solutions or what is really needed. Very sad

  2. Millswah

    Money is coming from America, I guarantee it.

  3. socratesuk

    This is what happens when people mix religion with politics!. Northern Ireland shares a lot of similarities. If you look at the most prosperous nations on earth, religion is typically a private matter, I think more religious countries, could learn a lot from the largely secular west. Its just such a waste of human life. Unless you build schools where different religious sects can mix and learn together in peace, then divisions will always continue. When people share the same space, and live in peace, it quickly becomes apparent that most humans want the same things in life, peace, healthcare, education, security, running water and so on.

  4. Deborah Macaoidh Selim

    Oh, the US is steeped in religion, too, trust me. They just wage their wars against secularism in a more modern way--democracy, capitalism, the hearts of the people, & a power & influence so great, their congregations will do whatever they say, including die & kill. Many men enlisted after 9/11, believing that God told them to do it. My brother got a tattoo of Jesus dying on the cross surrounded by the crown of thorns when he enlisted. President Bush said the same thing about attacking Iraq. There is a deep manipulation in all organized religion--they just use different methods in places like Syria and Lebanon (which has the most secular government of any Muslim country other than Turkey). It *looks* prettier in the West, but that's it. The words "In God We Trust" are on the currency, the president & other politicians get sworn in by putting their hand on the Bible (often George Washington's Masonic one is used), & no one could ever win the presidency these days if they were an admitted atheist. Mitt Romney is Mormon, and that's as far off from Christianity as a major candidate has ever been allowed to be, and he lost. Open your eyes. ;)

    Give Islam some time. They are 700 years younger than Christianity & struggling out of their own Dark Ages. They'll figure out how to do it, too.

  5. Jacob Solace

    The CIA continues to support fascistic elements all over the world.

  6. jaberwokky

    I have a hard time relating to any class of people who are represented via animal sacrifice at the start of a documentary ( thank you 'vice' you clowns). This is such a strange doc to watch if like me you don't have the full knowledge. Then again, the deeper middle east docs go, the more questions they throw up.

    Why is Saddam Hussein referred to as a Sunnis hero by a Lebanese 10 minutes into this doc?

  7. Horst Manure

    They don't know all those bullets shot in to the air come down close by and kill people hopefully their parents, so they can't breed any more idiots.

  8. Horst Manure

    Until ALL religion's is wiped out all over the world there will never be peace ...this will never happen as religion is a mental problem.

  9. Horst Manure

    7 million a day goes to Israeli so the rest are getting their share.. Maggie Thatcher's son sold ammo to the Iraq so no doubt some from the west were killed by UK made bullets.

  10. socratesuk

    Its a good question!. I think the Lebanese guy in question was a "Sunni". And some Sunnis see Saddam as the last powerful Sunni Muslim... (he also waged war against Iran which is largely Shia)...... Tho in reality he was actually kind of a secularist in some ways!. Some conservative Muslims even criticized Iraq for not enforcing religious codes/laws. So its a bit of an odd choice in a way.

  11. socratesuk

    Interesting post. Eventually the middle-east will become more democratic and will probably become more secular with time. The west also seems to be becoming less-Christian. (.....Well at least in the UK) The last census showed a drop in Christianity and a rise in no-religion.

  12. Millswah

    UK pretty much created the Israel of today (1947), questioning Palestine, and writing a letter to the United Nations, So yes money is coming from both the UK and America.

  13. prakash-mumbai

    The human race has been from its inception pugnacious and blood thirsty. It loves to indulge in killings destruction and in mayhem in general. The only chance it has of redeeming itself is to put and to manufacture of arms-a Utopian thought but a thought. "PEACE IS THE ONLY PATH"-Mahatma Gandhi.

  14. Terry "OldFox" Seale

    How sad!

  15. jackmax

    What's sad Terry

  16. jackmax

    So it seems the Muslim community hate each other as well as Christian. How will there ever be peace when we have religion in our lives.?

  17. Terry "OldFox" Seale

    It's very sad that Lebanese people have pretty much lost their great country and their sovereignty. Sad they have to live this way.

    Beirut was a wonderful place to visit, learn, play, and do business. After continuously hassling and trying to kill King Hussain, the Palestinian refugees were kicked out of Jordan and they then quickly ruined Lebanon for which they had no respect or honor. Danny, Dory, Camille Chamoun, and the great Tigers had no chance of restoring a modern, effective, and prosperous civilization once it became overrun by the sort of mental illness associated with the well-cultivated, nurtured, and aggravated refugee grudge alienation sponsored by Israel's enemies.

  18. jackmax

    It would seem the biggest problem the Lebanese communities face is the on going factional disputes with in the Muslim religion.
    I think blaming Israel's enemies is a short sighted and ill-informed view of the problem that their own religious belief have brought upon them selves.
    I take it from your remarks you are pro Israel?
    Would it not be fair to say that until the different fractions come to some type of resolution the fighting will never cease.
    There are many examples through out the middle east where the Muslim religion has imploded on it self due to there own differences of opinions. You are correct in what a beautiful city Beirut is but this documentary is about Tripoli and the warring fraction with in that city.

  19. bluetortilla

    I'm not religious but I think the point of the documentary was that the problem was a political one, not a religious one.
    People always use religion to hide behind, or as an excuse to further their nationalistic or tribalistic aims.

  20. bluetortilla

    I didn't learn much new from this, but hats off to the young journalist (and crew) who put his life at risk to make it. I'm sure I could never have maintained the composure that he did.

  21. jackmax

    I take aboard what you saying, however if you look at the political unrest through out the middle east it appear that the religious beliefs are the biggest hurdle in resolving the problems these countries are currently experiencing.

  22. bluetortilla

    You get no disagreement from me. Do we all still recall how about a million Muslims and Hindus slaughtered each other during the partitioning of India and how that hate is still seething between the now nuclear armed India and Pakistan? VERY dangerous situation with religion right at the center.
    But I still maintain that humans abuse religious faith to cover their chauvinism. Spirituality isn't the problem, but rather the lack of it, replaced by a 'Holy War' mentality of hate. After all, war is supposed to be against nearly everyone's religious beliefs! Isn't it?

  23. jackmax

    I understand your point, but I fail to see how the lack of spirituality can be blamed for religious factions fighting.
    When was the last time you heard of a group of Anti-theist, Atheist and Agnostic fight over their lack of beliefs.

  24. bluetortilla

    The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? The PRC and Tibet? I don't think we can ever get around beliefs. I believe- very strongly- in peace. In putting people first. In tolerance. In freedom of speech and thought.
    I guess since I don't ever associate the word 'spiritual' with 'religious' I forget that most people do. People who are eager to shed blood in war are somehow dehumanized- perhaps we can all agree on that. So maybe I can say it's the lack of humanity that is the problem if 'spirituality' isn't the appropriate word.
    Otherwise we get into this very oppressive notion that religion itself is dangerous, that believing in any religion is dangerous and so forth. Then comes in a new set of reforms that outlaw religion and strangle freedom. I may not be a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist, but I defend the right of others to be one. Because it is not our place or the state's to tell others what they can or cannot think.
    In the 20th C. religion has been outlawed any number of times by self-proclaimed atheist states. It didn't help things that the states were also totalitarian regimes that themselves became cults of personalities. Religion has done enough harm in converting people through force or otherwise. I don't think it's anyone's right or place to unconvert them through the same methods. Most people are fine as they are, left alone. People in general don't like feeling like they're being controlled. Most of us have a 'live and let live' laissez faire sort of attitude. And that goes for the peace loving Muslims out there as well who make up the vast majority of Islamic people.
    Sorry I got carried away here. But this is my response- in the wrong place I guess- to Dawkings (who is far better scientist than a social reformist) et al ranters, though certainly not to the supposedly atheist Nietzsche, who I champion.

  25. bluetortilla

    I can't believe you got 3 up's for that incredibly offensive remark. Hopefully your conscience will wake up so your brain can't breed any more ignorance.

  26. bluetortilla

    I live in China in a migrant town where there is a strong Islamic community. Butchering large livestock like goats on the street is common and is just 'normal.' Especially during festivals. You also see fresh meat on the hoof being sold hanging on hooks in all the markets. Hey, at least you know what you're getting!
    Vice is definitely using this image to shock and startle the 'blood thirsty' image into people. Sorry folks- this is what animals look like when you kill them and eat them. People who buy their beef in Western supermarkets might like to visit the slaughterhouse once in a while to see what's really happening to the animals they eat.
    Actually, I'm sure public displays of slaughtering are related to a Halal and further back a sacrificial tradition common amongst all the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean. Seems to be on every third page in Homer.

  27. Terry "OldFox" Seale

    They used to say, "Anyone who understands what is happening in Lebanon is grossly misinformed"

    Frank Gaffney always seemed to have the best grasp on it from our team... but then the airport Marine massacre was a bad shock.

    Factionalism goes across all the religions and ethnicities there, going way back, however the Christian factions appear less contentious when faced with the same enemies. It is a bit like Israeli factions and parties look pretty monolithic when you put them up against Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Politics is the rub, not religion. Religion in the ME is always invoked but, like race in the US, it is political values at issue nowadays, not racism,

    Lebanon reminds me of Miami. A fine, modern, delightful place ruined by embittered, betrayed refugees acting out their grievances on the happy and tolerant local people.

  28. bluetortilla

    I think this assessment hits the nail on the head. These are primarily problems of politics and power, they always have been.

  29. oQ

    every day on TDF

  30. jaberwokky

    It occurred to me that there might be context missing so I ran a search. Sure enough the culture and tradition aspects as you've mentioned were somehow overlooked by Vice.
    I had wondered the same thing a few weeks ago when video clips of Palestinians slaughtering bulls, which had been send as relief aid, started showing up in the news. Nobody gave any context for it then either, just the disclaimer 'what you are about to view, some viewers may find extremely shocking'. I guess I should have ran my search back then.

    However, as a vegetarian I still find it horrifying regardless of the context.

  31. jaberwokky

    Yeah it's a strange one. Saddam's religion, or degree thereof, always had a question mark hanging over it in anything I'd seen or read about him. The impression I always got was the he used it as a political tool. That guy in the video obviously hasn't seen the same crap TV specials as me.

  32. jaberwokky

    It's funny coz it's true.

  33. jackmax

    are they not fight against religees not amondst them selves

  34. jackmax

    I agree with you and t was not my intention not to consider communist countries struggles towards democracy, yet are the Tibetian monk of a religious order.
    You could also include North Korea in that group you mentioned.
    I understand your view point on religion however if you have read the Bible or the Koran you will see that within both they demand that the followers convert non believers as apart of their particular beliefs.
    I think your right about people being controlled, but are they not being controlled by the religious teachings of there particular faith.
    I respect Dawkins and the contributions he has made to science and the social reform. Nietzsche is very underrated as a social reformist by so many yet we only have to look at his work to see the value of the man. I concur with your view point of him.

  35. bluetortilla

    When I think of ALL the sources that contribute to our value systems, religious, metaphysical, secular, or rational, it leads me to seek what there is out there to appreciate and gain from before I condemn.
    Of course people killing each other over what color God has commanded their burkas to be is sheer lunacy. It's usually not the consequential things in life that drive people to war but the trifling ones.

  36. jackmax

    If they contribute I would agree, however I don't think that religion is contributing as such. I will except that there are some with religious belief that do, but I can't say religion it self does.
    For me the biggest hurdle is I can not except the notion that there is some super natural being, especially one who commands that you worship and pray to him on a daily bases.

  37. fk_censors

    Some of the richest places in the world are highly religious - for example Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, even the United States (compared to Europe, it is both more affluent and has a more religious society). Other affluent places, such as the Scandinavian countries, are very secular. I don't see any correlation between religious levels of society and prosperity.

  38. fk_censors

    Some have tried to make your dream reality (remember the Soviet Union? Mao's Cultural Revolution?) and guess what? It lead to deaths of millions, rather than peace.

  39. fk_censors

    Don't be so sure. Oil rich Sunni kingdoms in the Gulf area tend to side with the Sunnis in these conflicts, in order to fight a proxy war against Iran (and its minions, Syria and Hezbollah). On the other hand the Saudis are wary of Al Qaeda and other Sunny allies who are enemies of the royal family of the Saudis (and of Jordan). The other guys are probably being financed/armed by Iran, Bashar al Assad, Hezbollah, and indirectly the Russians (who have been propping up Syria and al Assad for quite some time).

  40. Horst Manure

    So because we do have religion we now have peace????god help you

  41. socratesuk

    Thanks for your post. Your post has made me question a few things, and do some more research.

    The worlds biggest economies are certainly more secular. (That said i don't know if we will ever see an Atheist US president)....Maybe one day? Atheism is on the rise in the USA....

    Also Syria and Iraq were a lot more stable under secular'ish regimes.

    Even Egypt seems to of had a rise in atheism. Tho this might be because people are fed up with the slow pace of the revolution, and are now looking for non-religious political alternatives.

    There is also some studies that suggest a link between people becoming less religious the wealthier their nation becomes. (I guess this is because consumerism is kind of a religion in its own right, people end up worshiping jet-skis, Xbox, fast cars instead)

    However the boom years of Saudi Arabia and UAE raise some interesting questions. That said neither are democracies and their wealth has appeared in less than 20 years. It will be interesting to see how these countries develop in the future!.

    The point about the United States being a bit more religious than Europe, might be because Europe has more of a non-religious safety net for those that fall on hard times. Typically healthcare is less of an issue for poorer people in Europe as well. Where as poor people in the US are typically a lot poorer than poor people in Europe. So maybe the churches act as a kind of safety net. (Its just a theory,..... couple of articles here and there on the internet seem to suggest a similar theory as well).

  42. jianfei

    A brilliant documentary! I commend the journalist for taking the risk he took to give us all a greater understanding of the crisis in Lebanon. One wonder's if the only cure for Lebanon could come from the Lebanese communities that now live abroad, Canada, Australia etc.

  43. Puscas Marin

    Very good documentary, congrats to the filmmaker !
    What I really don't understand is where this people have money to live: to buy food, to pay for gasoline, for electricity, for clothes, for day to day living ?

  44. Maya

    The ignorance the I saw in the first 10 minutes made me almost vomit...I couldn't watch no more. First, for the comments that the commentator is "risking his life", he's not,coz he's one of them, the only difference is he lives abroad. The truth is I'm Lebanese Christian, and in the past I did live in Lebanon for some years...but I NEVER EVER EVER have seen streets like this, and that poor lamb, I almost cried. It saddens me immensely when I see such documentaries in the media, because people everywhere assume that this is Lebanon..which couldn't be furthest from the truth. This is the Muslim parts of Lebanon that are almost near the border. Beirut the city and the suburbs are as liberal and carefree as New York. The short shorts and crop tops that Lebanese girls wear would put Rihanna and Niki Minaj to shame. To anyone out there who thinks this video represents what Lebanon is like...please don't, there is a reason why the law in Lebanon States that the president can only be a Christian...and that is because Lebanon is not a Muslim country. Lebanon has Muslims, Christians, Druze and Armenians...and no..we do not slaughter our lamb in that in humane,barbaric manner. Oh yes...one more thing, most of those people aren't even Lebanese, infact..they are Syrian refugees, I can tell from their accent. Now I'm sorry about the long post but seeing what they did to that poor lamb made my blood boil, got me so upset.

  45. G-Go70354

    Thank you... I am very interested in the country of Lebanon. Thank you for your insight and your post.

  46. Anthony

    Maya, I am a Lebanese Christian as well who lived in Lebanon for a long time. I, like you, have never seen streets like the ones depicted in this film. In my opinion, this is not a true representation of what Lebanon is. Lebanon is a Christian country that has had unwillingly had an enormous influx of Muslims, many refugees. These are entirely Muslim neighborhoods comprised of mostly non-Lebanese people, mostly Syrian refugees. It's very sad what has happened to my home country, with harboring so many refugees time and time again who come in masses, over 1 million Syrians and God knows how many Palestinians. I am very pro-refugee but there is a limit and a process that should be undertaken. Anyways, these areas few and far between. In Beirut it's very safe, there's numerous nightclubs, great shopping and insanely beautiful women. What more could you ask for?

  47. Anthony

    The money funding the many guns, bullets etc is funneled primarily from Saudi Arabia, who funds many of the conflicts in the mid east and keep it out of their country. I would also assume that some of these weapons originated from the US as well because these support the FSA who receives benefits from the US.

  48. Ray

    When your neighbours are raising the vile flags of ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra and claim Saddam Hussein is a martyr, you have no choice but to defend yourself.

    A disappointing one-sided documentary which focused on the Sunni 'victims'. As a Lebanese Muslim, these people are the downfall of the country. How many parents push their child to be educated? How many parents try and teach respect? They cheer when a child, a CHILD, holds a gun! They claim they have no future and no hope yet they have created this by instilling the next generation with their same warped and extremist views.

    I pray for the people of Jabal Mohsen. To be surrounded by such monsters, I do not blame them for any bullet they have shot.

Leave a comment / review: