This commentary was published in The Independent on 21/05/2011
If you want to discover the truth about Tripoli, you have only to visit the castle of Saint Gilles.
The problem, of course, is that Tripoli is scarcely two hours' drive from the Syrian city of Homs. Many of its people have relatives over the border– this goes back to the days before the French mandate divided Syria and created Lebanon. The minority Syrian Alawites, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, and the majority Syrian Sunnis are represented in this lovely Lebanese city with its fine clock-tower, its wonderful mosque and souk, its ancient, rusting steam locomotives and the finest ice-cream shop in the Levant. It should be a place of happiness rather than fear.