Lebanon Unrest Marks Worst Crisis in Years

Bombing and Riots Could Reflect Spillover From Syria War

By Reuters

Published October 22, 2012.
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“Sectarian incitement is on the rise in the country and the killing of Wissam al-Hassan brought things to a head. We may be entering a very dangerous cycle. Anything might happen.”

“It is not possible for the Syria conflict not to have implications on Lebanon. The Lebanese have entered the Syria war - one side is with the Assad regime and another is against it. They are fighting each other by proxy,” Naoum said.

Tiny Lebanon, with its combustible sectarian mix, is being dragged into the Syria crisis with its rival Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims fighting on opposite sides.

Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah group backs Assad, a member of the Shi’ite-based Alawite sect, in his fight against the Sunni-led insurgency. Lebanon’s Sunnis and allied Sunni powers, notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey, support the Sunni rebels.

The killing of thousands of Sunnis in Syria has angered Sunnis in Lebanon and across the region.

Hassan’s attacker did more than just kill Lebanon’s most powerful intelligence brain, who collected data on all major players and uncovered several plots in recent years. The killer performed a public execution that sent a warning to all those who dared challenge Syria in Lebanon.

INNER CIRCLE

Some analysts said the devastating attack against Hassan’s anti-Syria investigative establishment bore important similarities to the blast that targeted Assad’s inner circle of security officials in Damascus in July.

“Whoever did this attack wanted to deliver a message that they can reach anybody, that they can hit the highest level of intelligence,” said Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri.

“Whoever did it wanted to say ‘we can still strike’.”

Opposition politicians and ordinary people at Martyrs’ Square saw Syria’s hand in the bombing.


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