This Lebanon Bombing Proves the Syrian Conflict is No Longer a Civil War


Lebanon, a place all too familiar with ethno-religious tension and conflict, was rocked by another series of bombings Friday morning in the city of Tripoli. Two explosions occurred in the span of five minutes. The first was at the al-Taqwa mosque and the second at the al-Salam mosque left 27 dead and 352 wounded. These attacks came a week after a car bomb exploded in Beirut, which left at least 27 dead.

Between the recent spate of violence in Lebanon and the carnage in Iraq this summer, the Syrian conflict is quickly becoming a regional dilemma. For Lebanon, it would become another chapter in a history of violent sectarianism that has gripped the country for over three decades. 

Much like Iraq, Lebanon is feeling the effects of the Syrian conflict. The al-Taqwa mosque is home to Sheik Salem Rafik, a prominent Sunni cleric, while last Friday's car bombing occurred in a Shiite neighborhood of Beirut. Iraq has suffered through one of the most violent summers in recent memory, most of the violence of which has been of the sectarian type between radical Sunnis and Shiites.

While sectarian violence in these two countries is nothing new, they have taken on a new dimension thanks to the civil war in Syria. What was once an opposition that was formerly comprised mostly of moderate elements, radical Islamists, namely the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), have usurped the power. Both groups have become the biggest thorn in the side of the Assad government, and the ISIL has been using Syria as "practice" for carrying out attacks elsewhere.

Lebanon has suffered its share of sectarian violence before, as well as conflict with outside forces. However, the long-simmering tensions within its own borders combined with spillover from Syria creates the potential for a heady mixture of Sunni-Shiite conflict.

Two other key factors in Lebanon are Hezbollah and Israel. The Shiite-dominated group has accused long-time Palestinian and Sunni ally Hamas of carrying out attacks within Lebanon over the past several weeks, a sign that relations may be deteriorating between the two groups, which were often united in their opposition to Israel. The increasing sectarian violence will only add to the tension between them.