Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lebanon haunted by ghosts of civil war

By Ramzy Baroud
Asia Times

"As an influx of some 75,000 Syrian refugees a month disturbs Lebanon's demographic balance, the country's fractious sectarian politics are again threatening to erupt into civil conflict. Syria's brutal fight has already crossed the border in the form of car bombs, mortars and street fighting, and the deepening involvement of Lebanese fighters in their neighbor's war will likely accelerate the process.....

This bloody legacy is returning due to the sectarian nature of the Syrian war, and Israelis are already on the lookout for a possible future role. Aside from the flood of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, legions of Lebanese fighters from Hezbollah and other groups are fully engaged in the Syrian strife along sectarian lines. The fight has crossed over into Syrian borders and made it into Lebanon in the form of cars bombs, mortar shells, hostage taking and occasional street fighting. If tension continues to build, there is little question that Lebanon will become embroiled in its own civil war.

All of this is of course, welcome news in Israel, which prefers to wait until the warring parties exhaust each other in every way before it launches a new confrontation. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was quoted in the Jerusalem Post on October 24 as saying that a civil war between Hezbollah and a group called "Global Jihad" had erupted in Lebanon. "To those who are not yet aware, there is already a civil war in Lebanon. Global Jihad, which has infiltrated Lebanon and is attacking Hezbollah, is blowing up car bombs in Dahia and is firing rockets at Dahia and the Beka'a Valley," he said.

This is a win-win situation for Israel, which continues to navigate the Syrian war very carefully so it is not directly involved but ready to deal with its consequences......

Yes, the circumstances are not exactly identical, and history cannot repeat itself in an exact fashion. But these historical lessons should not escape us as we watch Lebanon descend into another abyss. Judging by the brutality of the Syrian war, Lebanon's own bloody history, and Israel's familiar military tactics, another Lebanese war is very much possible. Such a war will revive old animosities and establish new military alliances, but as always the most vulnerable will pay the price as they already have in Syria's unending bloodbath."

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