Weekend Thinking: Eye on Lebanon

While King Abdullah has managed to prevent the Syrian civil war from destabilizing Jordan, Lebanon, with its fragile government, delicate sectarian balance and history of invasions, wars and occupations, may not be as lucky.

For years the Assad regime did not view Lebanon as a sovereign nation but as an integral part of Syria. From 1976 until 2005, Syria occupied Lebanon by justifying it was an “invited guest” and a force of stability. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party, founded in 1932 and inspired by fascism and nationalism, continues to reject Lebanese sovereignty and aspires to ultimately create a Syrian super-state comprising Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Iraq.

Syrian rebels recently kidnapped a Shia from a militant clan in Lebanon after accusing him of supporting Assad’s regime. In response, the Shia clan kidnapped forty Syrians and a Turk, and threatened more revenge attacks. This sectarian cycle of Sunni-Shia violence between pro-Assad and pro-rebel forces undermines Lebanon’s stability and shows no sign of abating.

Persian Gulf nations are taking these threats seriously and have already begun evacuating their citizens from Lebanon. Saudi, Bahraini and Qatari officials have called on their nationals to leave immediately. Most of Kuwait’s 3,000 citizens in Lebanon have already fled.

As I have previously noted, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation contains Muslim nations who spend billions on military defense. Countries like Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have the capability to directly intervene by imposing no-fly zones and humanitarian aid. Why do they refuse to act when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves?

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