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Lebanon's Bloody Summer

Author: Mohamad Bazzi, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 10, 2007

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Excerpt:

This is the state of Lebanon today: deep sectarian anger that could boil over at any moment. In mixed Beirut neighborhoods, tensions rise between Sunnis and Shiites after each bombing. Tempers flare, small fights get out of hand, people start calling their friends and relatives to come in from other areas to help them and eventually the police have to step in. (A Shiite friend who lives in a mainly Sunni neighborhood told me that for several days after Eido's killing, he found a broken egg each morning on his car.) And there's no shortage of bombings to stoke tensions: On June 24 a car bomb exploded near a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, killing six troops under Spanish command. It was the first attack on the UN force since it was expanded to 13,000 soldiers after last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah. Some Lebanese politicians quickly blamed Syria for the bombing, but there is also evidence that Sunni militants tied to Al Qaeda have been plotting for months to attack UN peacekeepers in the south.

Throughout Lebanon's fifteen-year civil war, foreign powers battled for control of the tiny country, either directly or through proxies. But a great deal of the day-to-day fighting involved well-armed rival neighborhood gangs. In a city on edge, angry young men like Chebbo can easily get out of control. Perhaps at the next bombing, they won't be held back.

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