Tripoli’s Slow Decline
Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city, has not had an easy time. Once destined for a great future, the city is now plagued by poverty, corruption and violence. When Tripoli is mentioned, it is usually to highlight the fighting between the city’s Sunni and Alawite militias, which has increased dramatically this year as the civil war next door in Syria has continued and turned more sectarian. In my latest piece for the International Herald Tribune, I took a look at Tripoli’s once-promising past and where the city ended up instead:
The neglect and decline seen here at the renamed Rashid Karami International Fair mirrors that of Tripoli. Once the seat of Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman provinces and a major port serving Syria, Tripoli is no longer known for its meandering souks, its commerce or its culture: Modern day Tripoli is known for its widespread poverty, high levels of corruption and repeated bouts of violence.
“I don’t understand why Tripoli is like this,” said Mira Minkara, 33, a tour guide from the city. “It’s a city that has a lot of potential — if it was developed in the right way it would be a great city.”
While Beirut still had its problems after the civil war, there was at least an effort to rebuild and develop the city. Tripoli, a city of half a million, was left to its own devices, abandoned in the eyes of many.