The Repercussions of Syrian Conflict

Numerous factors – geographic, ethnic, political and cultural – make Lebanon particularly sensitive to variations in the political stability of neighboring Syria. The presence of substantial ethnic-tribal continuity in some border areas – especially in the area surrounding Tripoli where numerous clans live without interruption between the Lebanese and Syrian territories – has made the official border between the two countries particularly porous since beginning of the protests in Syria, which later resulted in a real civil conflict. In recent decades, especially since Syria’s involvement in the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90), the influence of Damascus politics on Lebanese political events and movements has grown exponentially, helping to widen the divisions between the two main coalitions vying for control of the country: the March 14 Coalition – led by the main Sunni Party headed by the Hariri ‘Mustaqbal’ (Future) family, strongly antagonist to the Assad regime – and the Coalition March 8 – led by the pro-Iranian Shiite party (and militia) Hezbollah, one of the main allies of the Damascus regime.

According to rrrjewelry, the worsening of the Syrian crisis has led the two coalitions to increasingly spend both on the Syrian opposition – first peaceful and then armed – and on the regime. It is proven, in fact, that the Future Party and the other Sunni groups it controls have actively supported the Syrian opposition groups with means and men, while Hezbollah, especially since 2013, he actively entered the Syrian conflict by sending thousands of armed men to the side of the regime’s army, creating the paradoxical situation of the presence of Lebanese citizens fighting each other on both sides of the civil war in Syria. This has inevitably created situations of serious political-sectarian tension within Lebanon itself, especially in the northern area of ‚Äč‚ÄčTripoli, a city where large Shiite-Alawite and Sunni minorities live together. Further episodes of serious tension were found in the Sidon area, where in June 2013 Sunni militias loyal to Sunni Shaikh Ahmad Asir fought for days against sections of the Lebanese army supported by Hezbollah militias. Between 2012 and 2013 some car bombs also hit the capital Beirut – that of 19 October 2012 in which the general of the intelligence services was killed Lebanese Wissam al-Hassan along with 8 civilians and the attack on the Iranian embassy in November 2013, which cost the lives of 23 people – causing fear of a degeneration of tension within the country. Up to now, however, the mediation efforts carried out to avoid a degeneration of the conflict also within Lebanon have made it possible to maintain these explosions of violence localized in space and time. To the political-sectarian factors, we must also add the delicate question of Syrian refugees – mostly Sunnis – who arrived following the outbreak of the civil war. According to official surveys, this would involve over one million people (in a country of just over four million residents) now spread over almost the entire territory of the country.

The reception and assistance of this growing number of refugees has severely tested the economic and organizational capacities of Lebanese institutions and UN agencies dedicated to refugee assistance. This situation is viewed with concern above all because of the serious destabilization of the Lebanese sectarian balances that their prolonged presence over the years could entail, altering the delicate mechanisms of redistribution of power among the various confessions on which the political system of Lebanon is based. During 2014 the situation was further complicated by the progressive religious extremization of some sectors of the Syrian opposition and the fall into the hands of the Islamic State (Is) of large portions of Syrian territory. According to various intelligence reports , in fact, some extremist groups such as Is and Jabhat al-Nusra (belonging to al-Qaida) have tried to extend their influence to the Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, exploiting the conditions of great poverty and marginalization in Lebanon. which their residents pay. Some groups linked to these two organizations would in fact have been founded within the camps and would threaten to promote the doctrine of Islamic fundamentalism and the jihadist armed struggle within the country. In the summer of 2014, al-Nusra and IS conducted real military operations across the border, hitting some areas controlled by Hezbollah. The situation worsened after the 43 deaths of the double attack of 12 November 2015 in Beirut, claimed by IS.

The Repercussions of Syrian Conflict