Beirut, the Lebanese capital, is situated in the middle of two seas one filled with happiness and optimism and the other with sorrow and sadness. However, the city is a good-natured location which may resist invaders or embrace them. It may shed tears when they depart, and bid them farewell even though they may not have left behind any deep imprints. Its embrace is warm, although its weather is moderate, though more on the cooler side. Beiruts people and all Arabs are its people miss the place as soon as they depart, and hurry back. Invaders and all evil forces that want to do harm to the place lose direction amidst its streets, plains and valleys, and thus fail to achieve their goals. Through different historical eras Beirut was never lost nor did it live in misery. It remained as it is, Arab in its affiliation, with its candles lighting the way for all Arabs. It also stood tall, writing its own history despite all attempts at alienation. Further, whoever was distanced from it, lived its cause and enlightened the world at large. Despite all that, Beirut has been lost between a civil war and the Hariri eras. History rectifies its generalisation error. It stands between generalisation and specification to announce that some of Beiruts identity was lost during the civil war and the Hariri era; Beirut is renowned for its traits of freedom and integrity. It is also famous for treating different authorities and the rule of law as separate entities. The quality of its judicial system is unmatched, or at least that is how it was before the civil war broke out. However, Beirut came out of the civil war armed with the faith of its people to overcome hardships and regain its past glory as the capital of all capitals. Alas, sectarian issues and the interference of traditional leaders left no choice to the Lebanese people at the time, and they fell prey to sectarian machinations which returned in a more profound and strong manner the exact way its colonialists wanted for it after the Sykes-Picot agreement. Too much wealth Beirut was immune to foreign intervention, not by the strength of its weapons, but due to the reasoning and independence of the Lebanese mind. Then came the conditional investments and the irresistible glitter of wealth. Conscience fell victim to expensive tastes; Beirut drowned in corruption. Rural Beirut was sold to financing companies from this religious sect or that, and its people were condemned to live in matchbox- sized accommodations designed to freeze their minds and liberty. Its gardens were uprooted by real estate developers such as Solidere and other big projects. As a result, very little remains of Beirut and its beauty. The city is no longer fit to be lived in by its people. It has been transformed into a nightclub and bar. Its libraries, theatres, forums and conferences which attracted the worlds attention and interest have disappeared, and so have its clean and beautiful markets which carried the old scent and identity of Beirut. Modernisation and tourists have taken over, alienating the locals. Money has spoilt Beiruts air and soil, exactly as men became corrupt after the civil war. Financing projects was bound to apply the financiers agenda and so many politicians were transformed into mere puppets mobilised by foreign hands and interests. All forms of control and accountability were conspicuously absent. Amidst Beiruts happiness and pleasure after the latest government formation, calls are being made to sack politicians, abandon politics and return to the Lebanisation of Lebanon, thus freeing the country from the grip of sectarianism. In this Najeeb Mikati era there is promise and hope that reflect the feeling on the street. However, there is the danger of a controlling group such as Hariri, which played the role of ruler and directed the country based on group considerations, returning. It corrupted the judicial system when it decided to bend it to serve its purposes and interests. It also allowed the international community to intervene in Lebanons affairs in return for cheap benefits, thus sacrificing Lebanons sovereignty and that of its people. It also jeopardised the integrity of a long historical line, set by figures such as Gibran Khalil Gibran, Elea Abu Madi, Nizar Qabani, Saleem Al Huss, Clovis Maksoud and others. It pleaded with foreign countries to demolish the last bastions of democracy, the constitution and legitimacy which placed it in the government in the first place. In the suburbs of Lebanon and some of its villages, another future for the country can be read in the eyes of children, women and the wise elderly folk. And if the civil war and 'Harirism have spoilt most of Beirut, it is good that Lebanon with its cities and villages has not been corrupted. The Lebanese people know their way and still hold the victory banner up high. Lebanon will not be robbed of its joy no matter how strong its internal and foreign enemies are. Fairouz will continue singing I love you Lebanon as will all Lebanese and Arab children. Khalifa Rashid Al Shaali is a UAE writer. Gulf news