Will Beirut turn into another Baghdad?

No one counts the number of victims of political crimes in Iraq anymore. Iraq has been witnessing a wave of explosions for a year now and various areas including markets, mosques and residential neighborhoods have been targeted. We fear the transfer of this plague to Beirut which was rocked by twin suicide bombings targeting the Iranian embassy on Tuesday. It’s clear that the operation was just one of the repercussions of the Syrian war. There are real fears that this small cramped country may explode as a result of the struggling parties’ and their displays of power. Fighting in Lebanon will not finalize anything in Syria as it can barely affect the situation there.

But, at the same time, the presence of an army of young suicide bombers, as well as a multitude of explosives and stolen cars, make terrorism a cheap currency in the region. Terrorism is not costly for the perpetrators and most of its victims have nothing to do with the struggle those terrorists are aiming to make a statement about. The aim of suicide bombers is to avenge and deliver threatening messages. The other party usually responds with similar messages. It’s the passersby who ends up paying the price!

Beirut itself is familiar with terrorism, especially since 2005 saw dozens of innocent people killed. There are fears that the Syrian crisis will transfer to Lebanon. The twin bombings near the Iranian embassy and the bombings in Tripoli and Dahiyeh are merely an episode of a long series called the Syrian struggle.

The aim of suicide bombers is to avenge and deliver threatening messages

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The case here is not similar to the situation that followed the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and other March 14 leaders. In the Hariri case, terrorism was perpetrated by one party and those targeted were pushed to hideout in Phoenicia Hotel or travel outside the country. The current case, however, is the symptom of a struggle which is becoming deep-rooted and which is expanding. It’s a political struggle depicted as a Sunni-Shiite struggle. It’s a Syrian-Syrian struggle, an Iranian regional struggle and a struggle between Hezbollah and opponents of the Assad regime. Beirut, which is an open city of multiple cultures and religions, will tomorrow turn into a city of barriers and military barricades. It will thus spark the spread of an atmosphere of terror to the rest of Lebanon’s cities.

Does Lebanon have to become an arena in which contending forces settle their accounts?

Hezbollah, extremist Sunni groups in the north and other similar groups will not be capable of seeing an end to their battles of terrorism and vendetta. Therefore, everyone will find out that the best solution is to distance Lebanon from the Syrian struggle which may prolong and turn more violent. Unfortunately, since the international community is not enthusiastic about ending the crisis in Syria, then this disturbed country, where all local and religious parties are fighting, will become a terrifying source of chaos to Lebanon - the soft ground. 

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 20, 2013.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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