“The army has tried for months to keep Lebanon away from the problems of Syria, and it ignored repeated requests for it to clamp down on Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir’s group,” the military command said in a statement.
“But what has happened today has gone beyond all expectations. The army was attacked in cold blood in an attempt to light the fuse in Sidon, just as was done in 1975,” it said, referring to the year that Lebanon’s own 15-year civil war began.
Reported yesterday by Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times:
“Every Muslim population must protect their brothers in Syria,” said Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a popular Egyptian-born cleric who lives in Qatar and appears frequently on TV. “The nation is ready for sacrifice and jihad and we must call for jihad to defend religion and God’s law.”
If the superpowers engaged in Sumo wrestling over the fate of Syria think they’re in control of the region, they may have some surprises coming. Syria is a crucible with many holes in it, and, as mentioned, it draws the engines of war into itself, but this week, especially, it has promoted sectarian violence beyond its borders and done so in local ways not likely to recede in the next day or two.
But to the traditional prayers and chants — praising the leaders of Iran and Hezbollah, denouncing Israel and America — the mourners added a new barb, for the gunmen battling the Syrian government who, they said, had killed him: “Death to the Free Army.”
The funeral on Wednesday at once encapsulated Hezbollah’s cohesion and the new uncertainties and anxieties its followers face as it fights a new kind of war, more intimate and ambiguous than the group’s founding conflict with Israel.
Anne Barnard’s intimate coverage of the Syrian conflict developing a Lebanese cast takes the reader through the onset of war. Businesses close; once trusted relationships become suspicious; political arrangements that sufficed for peace and security start to come apart.