Lebanon being dragged into sectarian strife: Experts

Last Updated: Saturday, August 17, 2013 - 13:48

Beirut: Fresh violence here in the Lebanese capital that has so far killed at least 24 people and injured around 400 suggests that the country could be dragged into sectarian strife, according to experts.

In less than 40 days, Beirut, known as the heartland of the Hezbollah, was targeted twice by car bombings, Xinhua reported.

The bombings did not target any office or leaders of the Hezbollah, but were clearly intended to incur maximum material losses in the base of the Shiite militant party, experts have said.

On July 9, a booby-trapped car exploded in Bir El Abd region, in which 53 people were injured. Political observers believe the bombing was the beginning of a phase of attacks against the Hezbollah`s stronghold in southern Beirut.

This week, another car exploded in Dahieh, killing 24 and leaving 336 injured.

Observers believe this marked an alarming point for a very serious phase that could plunge Lebanon into serious sectarian strife.

Thursday`s explosion did not intend to "assassinate any Hezbollah official, but to cause maximum damage and loss of lives among Hezbollah`s supporters", a former Lebanese security official told Xinhua.

"The real target of the attack was to push Hezbollah to a more extremist policy and turn the Lebanese arena into a scene of a larger regional sectarian war," he said.

He alleged the attack was staged either by Israel "in the context of an open intelligence war between Hezbollah and the Jewish state", or by Syrian or other extremists "in retaliation for Hezbollah`s participation in the Syrian war".

He said the Lebanese government has failed to protect the people from "regional fire", mostly the Syrian conflict, citing the presence of 600,000 Palestinian refugees and around 1.6 million Syrian refugees in the country.

"The situation could get out of the hands of the politicians and Lebanon could be dragged into the tunnel of sectarian strife," he warned.

Political analyst and writer Georges Alam said Lebanon is on a very dangerous slope toward becoming "an open scene for the settlement of the regional problems".

He expressed fears that country may not be able "to sustain the repercussions of the regional conflicts due to the absence of a strong state", and that the current sectarian incitement may lead to "destabilisation of the Lebanese entity".


First Published: Saturday, August 17, 2013 - 13:00

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