Lebanon: A Potent source of Unrest & Terrorism (Extracts)

By

Sakshi Gangwani,

MBA Homeland Security


Lebanon, is a mountainous nation with a coastline on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon borders Israel in the south and Syria in the north. The country also shares maritime borders with Cyprus. It covers an area of 10,400 km. With a population of 6.1 million people, including 1.5 million refugees from Syria and Palestine. Lebanon is country with 40% population being Christian and 54% population Muslim. With the introduction of Palestinians, the Sunni Muslim population had increased. Some important Historic Events are highlighted below:


  • 516-1918 - Lebanon is part of the Ottoman Empire.

  • 1920 - The League of Nations granted the mandate for Lebanon and Syria to France, which created the State of Greater Lebanon out of the provinces of Mount Lebanon, north Lebanon, south Lebanon and the Bekaa.

  • 1926 - Lebanese Representative Council approved a constitution and the unified Lebanese Republic under the French mandate is declared.

  • 1944 - On 01 January, France agreed to transfer power to the Lebanese government.

  • 1975-1990 - Lebanese civil war.

  • 1992 - After the first elections since 1972, Rafik Hariri becomes prime minister.

  • 2000 - Israel pulls out of south Lebanon.

  • 2005 - Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is killed by a car bomb in Beirut, sparking anti-Syrian rallies and a political crisis.

Lebanon is a parliamentary government that incorporates confessionalism. The President, for instance, must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shia Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eastern Orthodox. This framework is planned to prevent prejudiced clash. Until 1975, Lebanon was believed to be among just two (along with Israel) politically free nations in the Middle East and North Africa region. The nation lost this status with the episode of the Civil War, and has not recovered it since. Lebanon was evaluated "Incompletely free" in 2013. Until 2005, Palestinians were taboo to work since they didn't have Lebanese citizenship. Lebanon's public assembly is the unicameral Parliament. Its 128 seats are distributed amongst Christians and Muslims. Prior to 1990, the proportion remained at 6:5 for Christians; notwithstanding, the Taif Agreement, which shut down the 1975–1990 common conflict, changed the proportion to allow equivalence. The Parliament is chosen for a four-year term based on partisan relative representation. The presidential branch comprises of the President, the head of state, and the Prime Minister, the head of government. The parliament chooses the president for six-year term. The president delegates the Prime Minister, following discussions with the parliament. Political authority is distributed among Lebanon's major religious groups under a 1943 political agreement: a Sunni Muslim serves as prime minister, a Maronite Christian serves as president, and a Shiite Muslim serves as speaker of parliament. Lebanon was without a President between May 2014 and October 2016. There are 18 strict gatherings in Lebanon, each with its own family law enactment and set of courts. The Lebanese overall set of laws depends on the French framework, and is a common law, with the exemption for issues identified with individual status (progression, marriage, separate, reception, and so on), which are administered by a different arrangement of laws intended for every partisan local area. For example, the Islamic individual status laws are propelled by the Sharia law. For Muslims, these councils manage inquiries of marriage, separation, authority, and legacy and wills. For non-Muslims, individual status purview is parted: the law of legacy and wills falls under public common locale, while Christian and Jewish strict courts are considered skilful for marriage, separation, and guardianship. Catholics can moreover advance under the watchful eye of the Vatican Rota court. The most striking arrangement of classified laws is the Code des Obligations et des Contracts proclaimed in 1932, identical to the French Civil Code. Capital discipline is still true used to endorse specific violations. The Lebanese court framework comprises of three levels: courts of first occasion, courts of allure, and the court of cassation.


Hezbollah


Hezbollah also known as Party of God is a terrorist group. In 1982, Israel attacked Lebanon. This added to the civil war which broke out in 1975 for 15 years in the Lebanon. It was somewhere during this time period, Hezbollah originated. Hasan Nasrallah, Shia by caste was the founder of the Hezbollah. According to United States of America, Hezbollah is terror group, for Russia it is militant group and according to Iran this group is revolutionary. Hezbollah is now a political party having their own army and weapons. The main motive for the origin of the Hezbollah was the Shia radicalism. They follow the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini. ‘Lebanonisation’ has been used to describe the official shelving of Hezbollah’s demand for an Islamic state in Lebanon, and its acceptance of the rules of the game in the multisectarian Lebanese polity. Since 1992, Hizballah has been a member of the Lebanese government. Following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 in 2004, which called for the disarmament of all armed militias in Lebanon, Hizballah focused on portraying itself as Lebanon's defender against Israeli to justify its continued possession of arms. During the 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, Hezbollah waged a guerrilla campaign against Israeli forces occupying Southern Lebanon, where the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was also based. During 2012 Burgas bus bombing terrorist attack against Israeli citizens in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian government pointed t the Hezbollah of committing the attack. Hezbollah also fought in the Syrian Civil War under a pledge that the group will not allow Syrian militants to control areas that border Lebanon.


HAMAS


Ḥarakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah in abbreviated form it is known as HAMAS. HAMAS which means zeal in Arabic HAMAS is Sunni Islamist group which was established in 1987 in Palestine. The aim for making HAMAS was to liberate Palestine from the occupied territories by Israel specially the Gaza strip. HAMAS has mainly three parts, militant, social and political. Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the militant group of this terror group and Dawah is the social part of this terror group.


Relations between HAMAS and Hezbollah


Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist group whereas HAMAS is a Sunni Islamist group. Both are against Israel. Both have good relation with the Iran. Both groups originated against the invasion of Israel in the Gaza strip and Lebanon. The mode of terrorist attacks by both the groups are almost same. Since 1980s, HAMAS and Hezbollah worked as allies. The relations between Hezbollah and HAMAS got affected during the Syrian conflict. HAMAS supported the Syrian opposition whereas the Hezbollah supported Assad regime backed by the Iran. The main reason for the bond breakage was the rival regional alliances and political difference. In January 2012, HAMAS shifted its Head office from Syria to the Qatar. In 2013, both Hezbollah and HAMAS were indulging in armed fights near Lebanese border named as Qusayr of Syria. In 2013, the two-group tried to realign themselves and meeting was held in Beirut between their leaders to resolve their differences. Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers of Israel on the Lebanese border on 12 July 2006. Israel carried out air strikes to which Hezbollah responded by firing rockets. Israel created a security zone in the Lebanese to push the Hezbollah away. The main cause of the conflict was a buffer zone in southern Lebanon for 18 years that Israel occupied. After four days of fighting, the United Nations Security Council formally passed Resolution 1701 on August 11, 2006, asking for a "complete cessation of hostilities" promised on "the complete elimination of all threats by Hezbollah and the instant cessation of all offensive military operations by Israel." The deal became effective on 14th August. Israel demanded that international peacekeepers be stationed along the Lebanese-Syrian border to protect Hezbollah's re-arming by Syria and Iran. The release of prisoners was demanded. The Shib'a Farms, a 10-square-mile area in the Lebanon-Syria-Israel tri-border area, made it difficult to enforce cease-fire conditions. Hezbollah leaders stated that the weapons were needed to combat Israel while it occupied the Shib'a Farms. Hezbollah continued to fire rockets against Israeli military formations in or around the Shib'a Farms.


Abdullah Azzam Brigades


Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of Abdullah Azzam Brigades is the formal name of this group. Ziad al Jarrah was one of the terrorists in Al-Qaeda. It’s a Sunni Militant group. Abdullah Azzam brigade is the branch of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon. This terrorist organization operation first begun in 2009. This group is based on Salafist ideology.Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was the mentor of Osama bin laden and a founding member of the Al-Qaeda. He was the one who invited Osama bin laden to Afghanistan. The branch in Lebanon is named as Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalion as he was the part of the 9/11 attack in which he planned the hijack of United Flight 93. The main branches of the group are located in Saudi Arabia and Gaza strip where many attacks were planned. The Abdullah Azzam brigades have uncomplimentary connections with the Hezbollah reason, Hezbollah being a Shite group and the other reason is its relation with the Iran. This group has a relation with the Al-Qaeda. This group also has strong ties with the Taliban government as this government had the major role in the 9/11 attack in the USA. As this group has origin from Al-Qaeda, so Afghanistan supported this group financially. Pakistan also funded the Abdul Azzam brigade group. Al-Qaeda in the Lebanon has bad relations with Hezbollah, as Iran supports Hezbollah.


Al-Nusra Front


The Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria, collaborated with a number of other rebel organisations and was widely regarded as among the most successful combat units. However, it was quickly eclipsed by a new organization. In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stated that he would unite his troops in Iraq and Syria under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq. This group is based on the ideology in which they wanted to overthrow the government of the Assad from Syria and want to build their own government. They wanted the sharia law to be implemented in Syria. The group established in 2012, The Washington Post once classified al-Nusra as "the most violent and efficient" of the rebel factions. The United States Department of State branded it a foreign terrorist organisation in December 2012, and in April 2013, it became the recognized Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda. It was considered as the third incarnation of Al-Qaeda's Levant branch. It vowed loyalty to Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's successors. Nusra and ISIS fought for the same territory in northern Syria. The Nusra Front currently has between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters of mixed origin. It draws more foreign fighters than any other Syrian rebel organization. Apart from ISIS, the Nusra Front found allies among many other rebels seeking to depose Assad. However, its links to other rebel factions are shaky. By attempting to establish an Islamic emirate, the Nusra Front alienates allies who do not actually support a government relies on an extreme version of Islam. The Nusra Front rules the regions it controls, including a Shura council, a military command, and Islamic tribunals. The military leadership offers direction to regional combatants who act independently. Both the Nusra Front and ISIS were barred from the United Nations-backed ceasefire reached in February 2016 by the USA and Russia. Nusra Front, acts as Al-Qaeda's Syrian offshoot, having significant doctrinal and operational connections to the organisation. As early as 2013, Al-Qaeda deployed officials to Nusra-held territory in Syria. In 2015, the organization allegedly explored splitting from Al-Qaeda in order to further its mission in Syria and gain financial backing from the Gulf. However, its links to Al-Qaeda looked to be as strong as ever in 2016. In May 2016, Zawahiri issued an audio tape in which he reiterated Al-Qaeda's support for the Nusra Front. Nusra Front & ISIS are adversaries. The conflict comes from ISIS's split from Al-Qaeda in February 2014. Zawahiri formally cut relations with ISIS after its commanders repeatedly disobeyed Al-Qaeda's central authority. “ISIS is not an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and we have no organisational ties with it,” Zawahiri stated. “Al-Qaeda is not responsible for its activities or behaviour.” The objective of the Nusra Front was the same as that of ISIS: to create an Islamic caliphate. According to numerous analysts, Al-Nusra Front, which was once the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, broke connections with the latter owing to pressure from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. According to the same analysts, the two Gulf governments were attempting to escape allegations of funding terrorists. The two Middle Eastern countries sought to avoid being accused of supporting Al-Qaeda.


ISIS


Daesh, sprang from the ashes of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a local affiliate. It was found in 2004, by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was. In 2013, the organization changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Al-Qaeda ISIS seeks to establish an Islamic state known as a caliphate throughout Iraq, Syria, and even beyond. ISIS also propagates Sharia Law. ISIS promotes conservative politics and religious extremism using social media and talk of a return to the early days of Islam. After the arrival of US soldiers to Iraq in 2007, it fell into oblivion for several years. However, it began to resurface in 2011. It used the rising instability in Iraq and Syria to conduct out assaults and increase its numbers during the following few years. On June 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared the establishment of a caliphate extending from Aleppo, Syria, to Diyala, Iraq, and named the organization the Islamic State. On August 7, 2014, a coalition led by the United States launched bombing against ISIS in Iraq, and the operation was expanded to Syria. As a self-proclaimed global caliphate, ISIL claims religious, political, and military power over all Muslims in the world, and that "the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and institutions is rendered null by the growth of the khilfah's [caliphate's] power and the arrival of its troops in their areas." ISIL exploited several of Iraq and Syria's existing governorship borders to partition land it gained and controlled, referring to these divisions as wilayah or provinces. ISIL also created "provinces" in Libya, Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the North Caucasus by June 2015. ISIS financed itself using a variety of means, including self-financing and oil revenues from refineries and wells. ISIS controlled territory in northern Iraq and northern Syria, stealing and selling artefacts, taxing residents in regions under its control, and demanding ransoms for kidnappings. Despite the Saudi government's public condemnation of the Islamic State, affluent Saudi business people were known to provide private support. It was frequently routed through Kuwait, a country supposedly known for being tolerant of terrorist financing. Furthermore, many of the weaponry now possessed by ISIS were mistakenly given by the US, which they had delivered t to the Free Syrian Army in order to remove Assad from the dictatorship.


Geopolitics and Terrorism in Lebanon

The political situation in Lebanon significantly changed in the early 2000s. After the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the death of former president Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, the Syrian military presence faced criticism and resistance from the Lebanese population. Following Israel's departure from southern Lebanon in May 2000, a dispute developed over the Shebaa Farms, a 15-square-mile border area. Lebanon and Syria claimed the land as their own, but Israel believed it to be part of the Golan Heights. Many Christians and Sunnis community in Lebanon regard Hezbollah's attempt to "liberate" the Shebaa Farms as a flimsy justification for maintaining the resisting posture. Hezbollah's identity mission and top goal was to oppose Israeli occupation, Israel's exit caused a crisis inside the group. Russia does not view Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization" but as a "legitimate socio-political force". Saudi Arabia, and Iraq supports Hezbollah. It receives military defense training, weapons, and financial support from Iran and political support from Syria. HAMAS Also supports Hezbollah. They are also well connected to Sunni groups. HAMAS in Gaza and HAMAS in Lebanon coordinate their activities, mainly through the terror organization’s headquarters in Turkey, according to them. Both Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra attempted to capitalize on ISIL's ascent by portraying themselves as "moderate" in comparison. While they shared the same aim of building sharia and a caliphate, they planned to do so in a more methodical fashion.


To be continued...


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