Skip to comments.Islam Sunni Awakening in Lebanon
Posted on 11/24/2012 1:06:27 PM PST by Katechon
Syrias Civil War is leaking out of its borders into Lebanon. The two countries share a porous border and very close communal ties.
As tensions between Sunnis and Shiites rise in Syria, so too do they mount in Lebanon.
The Sunni-Shiite faultline in Lebanon is being projected onto the Syrian civil war. Sunni militants view their jihad against the Shiite movement as a mirror image of the Syrian rebels fight against the Alawite-dominated regime of Assad. They see the Lebanons Shiite movement of Hezbullah and the Assad regime as both enemies of the Sunnis.
In 1970, Hafez al-Assad, an Alawite, took power in Syria. Some Shiites recognize Alawites as fellow Shiites, some do not.
Hezbollah ("Party of Allah") is a Shiite jihadist group and political party based in Lebanon
The Assad regime has a history of lashing out when it feels under siege, coupled with a tradition of violent interference in Lebanese affairs to destabilise its neighbor, if only to weaken the Sunnis across the border and warn the world of potential consequences of a protracted fight.
Border areas have been caught in the Syrian revolution, with weapons smuggling, refugee flows and attacks against Lebanese villages along the frontier coming from Sunnis or Shiites, depending on the villagers allegiances.
The stream of refugees has had political and military consequences as Lebanese Sunnis, bearing witness to the increasing brutality of the Assad regime, step up their involvement.
Clashes among Sunnis and Shiites have been on the rise in Lebanon, with the risk of cascading violence. Heightened insecurity is leading many armed groups to take matters into their own hands, with tit-for-tat kidnappings and the erection of roadblocks that impede critical transportation routes.
Each Lebanons faction -- either Sunni or Shiite -- wagers on success by one Syrian side or the other, waiting to translate the ensuing regional balance of power into a domestic one.
The Shiite movement Hezbollah can not contemplate a future with a Sunni-dominated Syrian regime. It has tied its fate to the Assad regime. But it also has to safeguard its posture in Lebanon not only at present, but also in anticipation of a regime change in Damascus. That is why it has acquiesced in Prime Minister Najib Miqatis policies even when they went against the interests of the Assad regime, while providing that regime with practical support on the ground, such as lending snipers to Assad forces and killing protesters. United-States officials assert that Damascus, Hezbollah and Iran are in close military cooperation, even forming an elite militia.
Conversely, the Sunni-dominated Future Movement (Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal) of Lebanon and its Salafi partners see no alternative to the Assad regimes demise, however long it will take and no matter the costs.
The Future Movement is now led by Saudi-Lebanese Saad-eddine Rafiq Al-Hariri
Lebanese Sunnis view the Syrian civil war as an opportunity to seek revenge against the Assad regime, as well as a chance to challenge Hezbollahs hegemony in Lebanon.
Hezbollah continues to enjoy a lopsided military advantage in Lebanon over Sunnis, forcing them to think twice before challenging it. But confrontation would not serve the Shiite organisation, for it would attract further domestic and regional condemnation and isolation. Sunnis are feeling gradually more emboldened, eager for revenge, while Shiites are feeling more and more exposed, fearful of their growing regional isolation.
The Syrian uprising is helping Sunni groups in both Lebanon and Syria bolster their standing and mutual ties that had been debilitated in the 1980s.
Solidarity with their embattled brethren has led Sunnis to turn regions of Lebanon into sanctuaries and transit points for the supply of weapons to Syrian rebel forces and for staging ground for attacks by those Syrian rebels. This has been the case in northern Lebanon, notably the border regions of Tripoli and Akkar.
Arms smuggling into Syria began as a commercial affair, but has expanded with the Future Movement using Turkey as the hub for supporting armed opposition groups.
The black flag of Sunni islam, "There is no god but allah, muhammad is allah's messenger"
The Sunnis in the north of Lebanon harbour deep resentment towards the conduct of the Assad regime over the past decades and feel solidarity with their Syrian brethren. This anger and hostility has a longstanding history. In the early 1980s, the violent crackdown of the Assad regime against the Muslim Brotherhood pushed many Syrian Sunnis into northern Lebanon, where they were received and sheltered.
Between 1982 and 1985, Tripoli witnessed intense fighting pitting Salafi groups such as Al-Tawhid against the Syrian Army before the latter assumed control of the city.
During the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), Syrian security services and their Lebanese allies including many Alawites detained, tortured, killed and otherwise persecuted a lot of Lebanese Sunni activists. In the course of the Assad regime post-war tutelage of Lebanon, Hezbollahs ongoing empowerment coupled with the sidelining of Rafic Hariri, a Sunni leader, solidified the Sunnis' belief in their marginalisation.
Rafic Baha El Deen Al-Hariri led the Future Movement.
Jamil Al Sayyed, the former head of the General Directorate of General Security, was apparently involved in the assassination of Rafic Hariri.
The perceived loss of Iraq to both Shiite rule and Iranian influence further fuelled the sense that Sunnis were being threatened by a "Shia Crescent."
Meanwhile, the socio-economic decline of the northern Lebanon -- neglected by Beirut and largely cut off from its Syrian hinterland given bitter relations with Damascus -- exacerbated Sunni feelings of abandonment.
But now -- as Islamists in northern Lebanon shelter and protect Syrians who crossed the border, -- they reactivate ties that had been debilitated in the 1980s, thereby breaking with their sense of isolation and reconnecting with their communal, Sunni identity. Sunni groups in the north of Lebanon champion the Syrian uprising as their own cause, considering themselves the pioneers of resistance against the Assad regime.
The financial aid destined to the Syrian revolution contributes to a broader Sunni mobilisation, with jihadist Sunni Lebanese joining Syrian rebels in establishing networks of wealthy donors, in raising funds.
Sunni jihadists in Lebanon are joining a broader, region-wide sentiment of Sunni rebirth in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. Buoyed by both the Syrian revolution and these regional trends, Lebanons Sunnis have not hesitated to confront their own authorities.
When, on 14 May 2012, members of Directorate General of the General Security a Lebanese intelligence agency whose head has close ties to Hezbollah arrested Shadi Mawlawi, a Lebanese Salafi, local jihadists rose up in various Tripoli neighbourhoods. Violent clashes broke out between Jabal Mohsen and Bab Tebbaneh, Tripolis Alawite and Sunni strongholds respectively. It took Mawlawis release a week later to restore calm.
Shadi Mawlawi carries the black flag of Sunni islam after his release.
Likewise, the 20 May 2012 killing at an army checkpoint in Akkar of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed, a Sunni cleric another backer of the Syrian uprising prompted a show of Sunni force.
Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed
In the wake of these incidents, Sunni armed groups called for the armys withdrawal from Akkar and several Sunni leaders went as far as to encourage Sunni soldiers to defect from the armed forces, which is viewed as sympathetic to Hezbollah and the Assad regime.
As news of Wissam Hassans assassination spread on 19 October, armed groups and masked men carrying the black flag took to the streets of Tripoli, where gunmen forced the closure of shops, Akkar and other areas, including Beirut.
Wissam Adnan al-Hassan was seen as a leading Sunni figure in Lebanon.
The current goal of Lebanese Sunni groups is to turn the north of Lebanon into a de facto Sunni enclave, a Sunni bastion where their domination would go unchecked and where they would feel free to develop military capabilities in the service of an incipient Sunni Caliphate.
Efforts to boost their military capacity are intended to produce parity with Hezbollah so as to deter any Shiite foray in the north. Sunni groups are now challenging the Lebanese Armys position in the north in order to curtail its ability to constrain them and to curb efforts aimed at boosting the Syrian revolution. They want the Army to turn a blind eye on the arms and fighters that are being smuggled into Syria as well as on Syrian and Lebanese jihadists activities.
Sunnis want to control the world.
Shiites want to destroy it.
Let them kill each other.
I wish them both successful efforts in their assaults on each other.
How do you guys think the Obama regime will act here?
With Benghazi, it covered-up for the Muslim Bro and its jihadists partners.
Is the Obama admin allying with Turkey here?
Turkey seems to be playing the role of the middle-man, via Istanbul, funneling weapons and cash to both sides of the sectarian war. Unless I’m mistaking.
Turkey is difficult to nail down. One thing we know for sure, the prime minister is an Islamist. He has slowly transformed Turkey internally into a less secular Muslim society. He has limited the powers of the military (a secular force for Turkey), and has backed the Muslim Brotherhood in most of their exploits. His recent comments about Israel being a “terror state” are an example of testing the boundaries, seeing how much he can get away with.
I can’t see examples of Turkey aligning itself with the Shiites, although relations between Turkey and Iran have warmed a little. Turkey definitely wants to see Bashar Al Assad fall in Syria. Some deep historical hatred there.
We have no doubt that if Assad falls, Syria will fall under the Muslim Brotherhood’s control. Jordan is their next target. That theater is already heating up.
I agree with Glenn Beck that this is Caliphate nostalgia on the part of the Turks, who ran the entire Islamic world before WWI. These parts of the world have a much longer memory than we do, so its not ridiculous for them to fantasize about the return of the Ottoman Empire.
The Shiites complicate matters, but they’re a separate problem to the greater issue of Islamic supremacy and Al-Qaeda style governments taking over.
Obama’s agenda is unclear. My opinion is that he has a deep-seated hatred of Israel. Remember that he was brought up by communists. Communists (even Jewish communists) were very anti-Israeli. Gorbachev supposedly made it part of the Soviet agenda to exacerbate Islamic extremism to remove the most powerful pro-American nation in the Middle East (a key strategic region). Obama also grew up as a Muslim in Indonesia. Who knows what he learned there.
What is clear, Obama is definitely making Turkey his closest partner. That, is very troubling.
I don’t know if it makes a difference, but was Obamas Indonesian upbringing/influence Shiite or Sunni?
I cannot find a 100% guarantee, but it would most likely be Sunni. There are only one million Shiites in Indonesia. They are a very small minority in a country of 203 million Muslims.
Here’s an interesting quote from Obama’s old school
“Those tied to the school say they are proud to have had a student like Obama, and hope that, if he is elected president, his ties to Indonesia will broaden his world perspective and his views on religion.”
Translation - We hope his ties to Indonesia will remind him of his ultimate loyalty to Islam and the objective to destroy and subjugate all non-Muslims.
Istanbul is clearlyacting as a Command Center coordinating the purchase and transportation of weapons to Syrian rebels.
Turkey is also linked to the murder of Ambassador Stevens.
Link (via Google Translate)
I was reading that Hamas had moved away from Iran, at least in part for its support of Assad against the Syrian Sunnis. But where will they get their rockets from if they are no longer supplied by Iran?
I will study the genealogy of Hamas soon enough, and how it positions itself between the Assad regime, Iran, and Hezbollah, on one side, and Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other.
Does Hamas belongs to the pro-Assad axis or not? I don't know.
The only thing I can provide for now is this:
The Hamas' Coat of Arms, and the Muslim Brotherhood's.
Looks quite similar!!!!!!!! -- suggesting that Hamas is a by-product of the MB.
Despite being a Sunni movement, I’m reading that Hamas had close ties to the Assad regime. Its exiled leadership had taken refuge in Damascus for instance. BUT Hamas expressed strong discomfort with Assad since the uprising.
Hamas seems to have detached itself from the Assad regime, and seems to be in a favorable position to develop stronger ties to Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egypt, as well as to Qatar and Turkey.
I’d suspect the MB will provide gold and guns to Hamas.
And as news of Wissam al-Hassans assassination spread on 19 October, armed groups and masked men carrying the black flag of Sunni islam took to the streets of Tripoli, where gunmen forced the closure of shops, Akkar and other areas, including Beirut.
Major General Wissam Adnan al-Hassanwas seen as a leading Sunni figure in Lebanon. He was the head of the Information Unit of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces
Just before 3:00 p.m. on October 19, a car packed exploded in the heart of Beiruts Christian district. It destroyed cars, shattered shop windows, caused significant damage to surrounding buildings, killed Wissam al-Hassan and two others, and wounded over a hundred.
In addition to his leading role in the Lebanese intelligence apparatus, al-Hassan was close to Lebanons anti-Assad March 14 Alliance and had strong ties with the family of Rafik Hariri.
The assassination of al-Hassan indicates that the Syrian regime is still powerful in Lebanon. It also weakens the Lebanese security services at a critical time.
[T]he unit that al-Hassan headed had been particularly effective in the last few months, arresting former information minister Michel Samaha -- one of Assads closest Lebanese associates -- who was caught red-handed attempting to smuggle explosives from Syria into Lebanon. The unit was also instrumental in the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri as well as cases exposing Israeli spy networks in Lebanon.
-- Paul Salem, "Lebanons Fragile Peace Will Hold Despite Blow"
There was something surreal about the Samaha arrest: A high-profile political figure had been caught by a Lebanese police unit with evidence so compelling reportedly even extensive video and audio footage and witness testimony that none of Samahas pro-Syrian allies came to his defense. The highly public nature of the scandal and the brazen use of the media to air details of the alleged plot seemed to suggest defiance on Hassans part in the face of a weakened Syrian regime.
Hariri said shortly after the explosion that killed Hassan, We have always thought Bashar al-Assad has killed Rafik Hariri, and today he has also killed Wissam al-Hassan. Hariri may be right, but the question of who killed Hassan seems less important than why he was killed at all, and why now.
The assassination of al-Hassan inflamed the Sunnis of the March 14 Alliance. It was immediately followed by a great outpouring of grief and anger. Protesters and mourners condemned the bombing and called on the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati to step down. There was considerable unrest throughout Lebanon for a few days.
thank you so much- I confess little knowledge about the various factions, and wondered if there were slightly different worldviews, moral beliefs, etc. Its so much different than Baptists Catholics Methodists etc.I appreciate your answer!