Lebanon is an important culturally significant and stable nation in the Middle East. But fear exists that the Syrian civil war might spill over and engulf Lebanon. Lebanon and Syria are both part of the historical and cultural identity of the Levant. ISIL – translated means The Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant. That’s what was on their flag in the beginning and was the original and appropriate name. If you were to believe, they deserve a proper name. They don’t, though, because they’re clowns. They want to create a caliphate, and it includes Lebanon.
The Levant, and Lebanon, even Jordan, are in the clown’s cross hairs, but Lebanon is already at a disadvantage. There has been political unrest since 1975, beginning with a civil war between Muslims, Christians, and Palestinians. Political tensions run deep and were torn when Hezbollah resigned from the national government in 2011.
Underneath it all is the reality that in the Middle East, there are two heads of the snake – Saudi Arabia and Iran. There’s a long-time proxy war ravaging the region. In a jarring move, Saudi Arabia has divorced Lebanon. Thus, Saudi has abandoned its battle for Lebanon, and it is Iran’s to claim. However, reality is not like a board game, and Iranian influence will still meet opposition. Hezbollah represents a large, dedicated, and organized group of people in Lebanon – but not everyone in Lebanon. While Shia in Lebanon back the Alawites, the Assad regime, Sunnis in are Lebanon sympathetic to the opposition. Hezbollah, in turn, has been strengthened by the Saudi exit from Lebanon.
The Syrian civil war has already spilled over, where battles and fighting are occurring within the borders of Lebanon. Jubhat Al-Nusra and ISIL fought and held a town in Lebanon briefly in 2014. Lebanese military aid from the U.S. is approximately $80 million. We train, advise, and assist the Lebanese to maintain security within their country. If the conflict in Syria were to spill over it would complicate the Lebanese theatre command. The likely escalation of the Syrian civil war seems inevitable. The war has no end in sight, and the extremist groups are no less capable. It’s possible that to escape increased pressure in Syria against the opposition, ISIL may make a desperate a broad movement into Lebanon. This would draw Lebanon and the Hezbollah element remaining in Lebanon into the fray. That same element is naturally aligned against Al-Nusra and the opposition as a whole because they are Sunni. This could erupt into a sectarian war without regard for extremist or moderate idealogies.
Featured image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.