• Saturday 7th December 2019

Lebanon: Between Tripoli And Balochistan

That area, which used to be a model of co-existence and openness and which was dominated by moderate Sunni Islam, has slowly slipped into a state of emptiness and despair,

Lebanon: Between Tripoli and Balochistan

The flames of war that struck Lebanon’s northern capital, Tripoli, last week are still smoldering. Despite the army deployment in the neighborhoods that witnessed military confrontations, nothing indicates that the fate of the latest ceasefire will be different from the many that preceded it.

The agreements reached between the official security services and the “leaders of the axes” fall squarely within militia-type logic and themselves constitute a challenge to state authority and its monopoly of arms and in maintaining security.

The Lebanese north is no longer in the state’s hands. It has become a swamp in which violent and oppressive radical forces sprout. Those forces use the sense of injustice and deprivation, and the double standard being used to resolve Arab issues, first and foremost the cause of the Syrian people, to rouse the hungry and mobilize the oppressed. What has become clear is that the conflict in Syria has moved to Lebanon. It is the same conflict, between the same conflicting parties, with the same sectarian dimension, taking place in two different countries.

The borders created by international agreements have practically disappeared and been replaced by borders of another kind: religious borders fueled by regional powers, which the latter use in their major conflicts.

The state of affairs in the east is terrible. Every day, there are bombings bearing the signature of religious terror. There are conflicting reports about the approaching battle for Qalamoun, which is a Sunni area and the stronghold of the rebels near Damascus. The Syrian regime has been preparing for that battle to strengthen its negotiating hand in the lead-up to the Geneva II conference.

At the same time, the conflict in the Lebanese north between the Sunni area of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen rages. Concurrently, but not coincidentally, 11 explosions rocked predominantly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and Mosul.

Meanwhile, on the Iran-Pakistan border, 14 Iranian border guards were killed by “armed groups” thought to be associated with al-Qaeda. That was followed by Iran executing 16 Sunnis from Balochistan, in what appears to have been a revenge response.

The scene in the Middle East last week was a scene of terrorism and blood and fire of a sectarian nature. Meanwhile, the positions regarding Geneva II have been escalating. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice has said that Washington is reviewing its Middle East policy and reassessing its priorities. She said that Washington is seeking a diplomatic solution with Iran and wants to “mitigate” the Syrian strife.


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