The refugee influx, fighting along the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the intervention of Lebanese Shia and Sunni Islamists on opposite sides in Syria’s civil war have all contributed greatly to the withering of Lebanon’s already precarious stability.
The Syrian refugee crisis is a major driver of violence and political tension in Lebanon. Tolerance for the refugees is gradually turning into resentment.
The recent end to sectarian violence in Tripoli, Lebanon presents a historic opportunity for Lebanese Alawites to search for new leaders who embrace a more independent approach toward Damascus and a more conciliatory posture toward Tripoli’s Sunni majority.
Until Iran and all the other governments currently fanning the flames of war in Syria have accepted that no peace plan can work without a critical mass of armed actors on both sides, Syria’s slow collapse into Somalia-style anarchy will continue.
The simmering intra-Sunni tensions in Tripoli, Lebanon in relation to the conflict in Syria belies the standard sectarian divide of Sunni versus Shia, in a sign of how multifaceted and fragmented the Sunni Islamic spectrum really is.
The northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli is home to several Sunni Islamist groups that support the Assad regime and Syrian patronage has given them access to funds, weapons, and political connections.
There are clear signs that Syria is now progressively replacing Lebanon as the region’s geopolitical chessboard. This means that Lebanese politics will increasingly be viewed through a Syrian lens.
If the creation of a cabinet does indeed result in intensified efforts to “disassociate” Lebanon from Syria, it may grant Lebanon some well-earned breathing space—but tightening the border could also increase the pressure within Syrian borders.
Viewing Lebanon as a transit point for the struggle in Syria and considering its state institutions as legitimate targets may, in due course, fuel the rise of the much-feared Islamic State of Lebanon.
Many Lebanese Alawites do not seem particularly keen on being associated with their co-religionists in Syria, and they are especially wary of being linked to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab Democratic Party (ADP) has long been the representative of Lebanon’s tiny Alawite community. Its long-standing alliance with the Assad regime has ensured its political and paramilitary hegemony over Lebanon’s Alawites. But new Alawite voices are emerging that are more critical of the Assad regime and of the ADP.
Osama Amin al-Shihabi, a well-established actor on the Levantine jihadi scene, has recently been appointed head of the Nusra Front’s Palestinian wing in Lebanon.
The double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed at least 23 people and throws yet more fuel on the smoldering political fires of Lebanon. But what is known about the group behind it?
Few other political leaders, even among the notoriously cynical Lebanese zu’ama, shift their opinions with as little apology and ceremony as Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and steward of Lebanon’s Druze community.