Monday, February 06, 2006

Cartoon Riots

Juan Cole is inclined to take the Syrian riots at face value. As I noted yesterday, however, I'm not so sure. Now Praktike makes the easy connection between Syria and Lebanon:
"I am worried about the effects of this on fragile little Lebanon, however. It looks like Syria eagerly seized the situation to rile up the Muslim community. Marching and rioting in Christian Achrafiye, a neighborhood that was on the front lines during the civil war, is a good way to stir up sectarian tensions (and indeed, Maronite youths were apparently pouring into the neighborhood in response to the rioting). Syria's strategy is clear: to destabilize Lebanon or threaten to do so that the Saudis will swoop in and cut them a better deal over the Hariri assassination than they otherwise would have gotten. So far, as crazy as it may have seemed to me at first, it seems to be working."

Is this right? Lebanon may have Syrian intelligence still lurking in the shadows stirring the pot, but it also has plenty of sectarian tension on its own. Still, the fact the worst violence has happened in Damascus and Beirut seems pretty suspicious.


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