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November 27, 2011

Are the Lebanese fighting a proxy war in Syria?

November 27, 2011

November 27, 2011

After many credible reports and official statements, the role of the Lebanese Future Movement in supporting the Free Syrian Army has been never clearer. #Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has already declared his support for the Syrian regime, while some of his allies have called for the formation of an “army” to support Assad.
This whole situation begs the very odd question: Are the Lebanese factions fighting a proxy war in Syria?
As odd as it sounds to the reader, this might be the case. The Syrian regime has for many decades fought proxy wars against its regional and international enemies on Lebanese soil, and for the Lebanese to do the same today, on Syrian soil, and through Syrian sides, is only history’s Karma. The Guardian had reported that Tripoli, the pro-Saudi Hariri’s stronghold, is quickly turning into a border base for the Free Syrian Army, alongside Southern Turkey. And when Hariri was asked on Twitter on whether he supports the Free Syrian Army, he said “I support all Syrians who want their freedom”. This was his first official declaration of support for the Free Syrian Army; while it falls short of acknowledging military support for the militants, the Guardian’s interview with an FSA leader confirmed reports that weapons are smuggled from “sympathetic” sides in Lebanon to Syria. I expect that Hezbollah and its allies are offering similar support to the Assad regime, their only ally in the Arab world.
At first, both sides were holding demonstrations and counter demonstrations in support of either of the Syrian sides. Now, we have moved into a different more militarised phase where both Syrian sides depend on the support of their Lebanese Allies. In Syria’s pro-regime demonstrations, Hezbollah flags are carried; in the anti-regime demonstrations, they are burnt. In Tripoli today, thousands of Hariri supporters gather carrying the Syrian opposition's flag and calling for support to Syria's revolution; soon, during the Shia Ashura rituals, Nasrallah's supporters will express their support towards the Syrian regime, especially Assad.
While those events are worrying signs of increasing tensions between Lebanon’s political/sectarian factions, they constitute by the same token a historical moment in the history of Lebanon’s troubling relation with its neighbour.
(Picture: Assad and Nasrallah on the same poster during pro-regime demos)


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