Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lebanese keen to avoid sectarian war

by Justin Salhani

This article first appeared in The Atlantic Post

BEIRUT, Lebanon ‒ In Lebanon, memory is still fresh of a vicious civil struggle that lasted 15 years and took the lives of over 100,000 people. Lebanese today fear a return to the violence and sectarian friction of the civil war that ended in 1990. This fear has been worsened by the war in neighboring Syria.

The Syrian civil war has stoked sectarian divisions in Lebanon, a small country on the Mediterranean that borders Syria and Israel, leading to some of the worst bouts of armed clashes in years.

Lebanon’s second biggest city Tripoli in the north has witnessed repeated skirmishes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Select villages in the east Bekaa Valley have been subject to shelling from both the Syrian armed opposition and the al-Assad regime, and late last month followers of a radical Sunni Muslim cleric clashed with the Lebanese Armed Forces in the southern city of Sidon.

But despite the increase in tension and violent repercussions, many analysts believe Lebanon will, at least for now, avoid a return to the full-scale war of years past.

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