The crisis in Syria is reopening Lebanon’s old war divisions
Clashes in Lebanon are symptoms of underlying tensions that are worryingly close to those that started the country’s civil war
Clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Lebanon are not merely a case of the Syrian crisis “spreading” – underlying them are dynamics that hark back to the period leading to the Lebanese civil war in 1975. Like the old war game, Lebanon’s new war game revolves around divisions regarding foreign actors, sectarianism and mistrust of state institutions.
In the 1970s, Lebanese political groups were sharply divided over support for the Palestinians. Today, it is the Syrian regime and their opposition who have assumed this role of foreign catalysts, with Hezbollah supporting the former and the March 14 coalition, led by Saad Hariri, the latter.