Civil war in Syria, an Islamist insurrection in Iraq and now bloody fighting in the Gaza Strip: turmoil is spreading across the Middle East and Lebanon is eyeing its neighbours with increasing apprehension.
The country fears the spread of violence across its borders, particularly from Sunni extremists targeting Lebanon as a support base for Shiite Hezbollah.
“We have to expect repercussions from the events in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Gaza upon Lebanon,” said Achraf Rifi, Lebanon’s Justice Minister.
“The biggest challenges are the terrorist networks and the confessional tensions we’re seeing between Sunnis and Shia in the whole Arab world.”
The repercussions are already being felt.
In June, after four months of relative calm, the country witnessed a new series of suicide attacks. The first came at a police checkpoint in Dahr al-Baidar in the Lebanese mountains. The next came three days later, in the capital Beirut’s southern suburbs.
The same week a Saudi militant detonated his explosive belt during a police raid on a seafront hotel in a popular tourist area of Beirut.
On Sunday, Lebanese soldiers killed a militant suspected of involvement in that last attack and arrested another in Tripoli, adding to an already tense situation in the northern city.
Tripoli - an Islamist stronghold - has seen a series of deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian government since the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011.
Now, the conflict between Gaza and Israel has added another threat to stability in Lebanon. Last week, at least ten rockets were fired on Israel from south Lebanon - a Hezbollah stronghold.
A conflict between the Jewish state and Hezbollah, both engaged on other fronts, seems unlikely at the moment. But buffeted by regional turbulence, Lebanon looks more vulnerable than ever.
Date created : 2014-07-22