The Rise of the Salafis in Lebanon: A New Sunni-Shiite Battlefield

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Jacques Neriah - In Syria, the Sunni majority is trying to gain back power from the Alawite minority that has ruled Syria since the late 1960s. The direct involvement of the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah militia on the side of the Syrian regime against the Sunni rebels has ignited a sense of solidarity among the Sunni community in Lebanon that has translated into their active involvement in the fighting in Syria. The Sunni community in Lebanon is assisting the rebels by sending weapons and fighters and by providing a safe haven in Lebanese territory. In the wake of former prime minister Saad Hariri's self-appointed exile to Paris, the absence of moderate political leadership to act as a counterweight to the Shiite movement has provided an opening for Salafi leaders such as Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir. Assir's confrontational rhetoric and his loud hostility toward Hizbullah is new for Lebanon. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2012-12-07 00:00:00

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