May 21, 2007

AQ Starts Trouble In Lebanon

Terrorist attacks and the government's response have killed more than 30 people in Lebanon overnight. At least one of the factions has ties to al-Qaeda, and some believe Syria may have quarterbacked these latest uprisings in an attempt to undermine the Lebanese government:

Government soldiers Sunday battled members of an Islamic group at a refugee camp near the Syrian border and in a nearby coastal city, with at least 33 people killed in the worst bloodshed here in almost a year.

A bomb went off before midnight in an affluent Christian neighborhood of Beirut, killing one woman and injuring five other people, relief workers said. It was unclear whether the explosion was connected to the earlier fighting in the north.

The heavy, daylong combat stoked fears among many Lebanese that neighbor Syria was involved and trying to foment unrest at a crucial time.

Throughout the day, Lebanese soldiers shelled the Nahr Bared camp, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees as well as the militant Sunni group Fatah al-Islam, which has been linked to Al Qaeda. About 10 miles to the southwest in Tripoli, Fatah al-Islam fighters barricaded themselves in an upscale apartment block and fought soldiers with grenades and machine guns for 10 hours before being overrun.

The militants, who have been accused of having ties with Syria, also battled security forces elsewhere in Tripoli and attacked an army checkpoint outside the coastal city, killing several soldiers in one strike, officials and witnesses said.

The involvement of al-Qaeda demonstrates the rising influence of radical Islamists in northern Lebanon. Previously, Hezbollah represented the Islamist faction in Lebanon, and they stayed almost exclusively in the south, where they claimed a mandate of protecting Lebanon from Israel. Now the UN refugee camps in the north, where Nahr-el-Bared sits on the coast north of Tripoli, have become infiltration targets for AQ as well as the normal Palestinian terrorist groups.

How much does Syria have to do with these new Islamist inroads? Everyone knows that Hezbollah is a Syrian client, but this is the first time that accusations have come out that Syria funds the Sunni-dominated AQ network. Fatah al-Islam is an offshoot of the Syrian-backed Fatah al-Intifada, which works to support the more secular partisans in the Palestinian Authority, and its leader denies any connection to Syria.

However, he may have some diplomatic reasons to hide those connections. Fatah al-Islam's leader Shaker Abbsi is wanted by the US in connection to the murder of our diplomat in Jordan in 2002. If Fatah al-Islam revealed its Syrian connections, then we would have a serious change in posture towards Damascus, one which Bashar Assad would prefer to avoid.

And where is the UN in all of this? It's their refugee camp which has fostered these groups and allowed them to operate openly. Shouldn't the UN be disarming people in refugee camps? Or have they abandoned that mandate, as they have abandoned others?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (6)

Posted by rbj | May 21, 2007 9:06 AM

Obviously the US needs to get out of Lebannon, our continued presence there only fosters Al-Qaeda & other terrorists (who really aren't terrorists, just nationalists who want foreigners & Joooooos out of the Middle East.)

No blood for cedars!


Posted by Carol Herman | May 21, 2007 12:03 PM

Proxy wars are "funny" things. Because at some point the dogs you're training, turn on each other.

And, the Sauds aren't gonna get their hands dirty by becoming soldiers, themselves.

Ditto. This is true in Iran. Where the "soldiers" there are a bunch of goons, that fight off the people who'd be in the middle class, if they could just throw off the yoke of oppression.

Go talk to the Bear. Once that yoke comes down, folks. It just doesn't peel away.

And, why is Lebanon erupting? Seems Assad had no trouble blowing up the billionaire Hariri. Who had won the hearts and minds of the Lebanese. So, now, Assad is trying to save his own ass.

And, trying terror has always worked for the syrians.

Every time you hear the word "Hamas" you should remind yourselves that it was Assad's dad, who fought off a palestinian rebellion. By going in. Killing 10,000 of those vermin. And, then laying over Hamat, a parking lot.

So, that's what's happening.

And, it's happening because "it can."

Seems whereever you have palestool's, you've got murderers who live amist their tablecloths. Ducking and hiding.

The other thing to notice? Nobody really cares.

Posted by starfleet_dude | May 21, 2007 1:00 PM

Juan Cole passes along some very needed background on the situation in Lebanon:

Lebanon Crisis

Briefly, it's highly doubful Syria has anything to do with it, and the Palestinians in the camps are victims as well.

Posted by Bill Faith | May 21, 2007 2:10 PM

Oh, well if Juan Cole says it's so then that settles it. btw, did I mention I have a bridge for sale?

I added an excerpt and link to my 2007.05.21 Israel/Lebanon/"Palestine" roundup

Posted by rbj | May 21, 2007 2:20 PM

starfleet_dude, so then Syria has been stirring up the trouble in the camps. (along with their ally, Iran).

Posted by courtneyne109 | May 21, 2007 2:44 PM

Trouble in Lebanon is ALWAYS in Syria's interest. How else can Bashar return the Golan to the centre of Kurya Suriyaa (Greater Syria) instead of the periphery?