Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nahr al-Barid and Iraq

Andrew Exum notes the connections between Iraq and the violence in Lebanon:
"Second, the return of jihadis who fought in Iraq since 2003 has exacerbated the spread of violent radicalism in the camps. The jihadis who have returned, whether Lebanese, Palestinian or from elsewhere, come with stories from Iraq and also a militarism that had been largely missing in the heavily Sunni Muslim community of Lebanon prior to 2003.

"Third, the fighting that has taken place during the past two weeks is also related to the internal domestic strife in Lebanon. In their efforts to counter the massive popular mobilization of the Hezbollah-led Shiite community, the Sunni leaders of the Saad Hariri-led March 14 coalition have not been above stoking the sectarian fires of Lebanon's Sunni community. Indeed, at a recent rally to mark the anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, the largely Sunni crowd broke out into chants of 'Wahad, itnayn! Wahad, itnayn! Rafiq al-Hariri wa Saddam Hussein!' ('One, two! One, two! Rafiq al-Hariri and Saddam Hussein!'). In the largely Sunni port cities of Tripoli and Sidon, tributes to what they consider the Sunni martyr Saddam Hussein—executed by the 'Shiite government' in Baghdad—are disturbingly common (al-Akhbar, February 15)."

Lebanon already has significant cleavages resulting from its governing system and exacerbated by the years of civil war, so its no wonder that Iraq is providing a convenient symbolism for its own conflicts.

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