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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Some analysts said the perpetrators of the bombing - which also wounded more than 80 - clearly aimed to push Lebanon into a new round of violence. But although sectarian tensions are high, Lebanese factions have no desire to return to civil war.

Despite persistent calls by Hariri and others for Mikati to resign, many politicians and Western envoys sought compromise, arguing that high-level resignations and political turmoil in Lebanon were precisely what Hassan’s killers intended.

Lebanon’s sectarian-based politics are further complicated by regional hostility. While the main Lebanese opposition has long been aligned with Washington and Saudi Arabia, Mikati’s governing coalition is endorsed by Iran and Syria.

The bombing also heightened fears among Western powers - which have criticised Assad and called on him to step down - that the Syria war could ignite conflict across the region.

Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle East specialist at Boston University, said it was too early to say who carried out the bombing.

“However, there is no doubt that al Hassan’s death will bring smiles to the face of Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts,” he wrote in a commentary.

Hassan, a Sunni who opposed Syria and Hezbollah, was laid to rest next to Rafik al-Hariri, whose assassination in a similar manner seven years ago sparked widespread protests that ultimately forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after 20 years of military and political dominance.

But despite the military pull-out, Assad retained influence through his Lebanese allies in Hezbollah.


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