Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bombs in the Levant

The Explosions in Damascus and Tripoli


"........The hallmark of al-Qaeda is sowing sectarian strife. And there is no better recruitment ground to help in this endeavor than the teeming Palestinian refugee camps such as Nahr al-Bared and especially Ain al-Hilwah. The latter is completely isolated from the rest of the country and its disenfranchised, disaffected Sunni Muslim inhabitants make them an ideal constituency.

Hezbollah though, is keenly aware of these circumstances and overtures and has proactively attempted to counter them. As so well reported by Dr. Franklin Lamb, they have done this through humanitarian outreach, by providing municipal assistance in the form of sewer and water projects, and successfully lobbying the government to issue Palestinians temporary identification cards, all not insignificant measures.

Rallying the Troops

It was al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a videotaped message released in early September, who lambasted Hezbollah for allowing “thousands of crusaders”—otherwise known as United Nations peacekeepers—into the south after the July 2006 war with Israel. He additionally assailed nearly all Shia political and religious figures in the region.

Quite remarkably, a “memorandum of understanding” had been signed earlier in August between (Shia) Hezbollah and the Salafi Belief and Justice Movement. For this to occur between two groups at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum was stunning (Salafis consider Shia Muslims as heretics at best and non-Muslims at worst). But because of the outrage and intense pressure levied against it by other Salafi movements, the agreement was frozen only a few days later.

Although al-Qaeda and their allies are far from posing a direct military threat to Hezbollah, this was never their modus operandi. Rather, they will attempt to achieve their objectives by creating conditions giving pretext to the Israelis to strike Lebanon, launching attacks on UNIFIL forces, or assassinating high-profile figures in the country so as to foment political instability.

The Damascus and Tripoli bombings are thus meant to convey one simple message:

We have arrived."

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