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General News    H3'ed 6/19/15

Why are so many Sunni Muslims in Lebanon switching to Da'ish (ISIS)?

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Discreetly but inexorably"

(Damascus) As recent developments in the Levant make plain, the Sunni-Shiite conflict is increasingly dominating political and strategic initiatives and calculations in Lebanon. In the twelve months since declaring its "caliphate" on June 29, 2014, the "Islamic State" (IS/ISIS/Da'ish), basically a political power movement as opposed to being a religious project, continues birthing international and local franchises. This, while employing fear and acts of extreme violence and "terrorism" as forms of political theater to draw adherents.

The IS vision is working as Da'ish metastasizes in Lebanon and in much of this region. A new political power chapter has arrived here of which the latest events in Yemen are only the most recent, but surely not the final, example.

It is not anymore a question of whether or when Da'ish and/or al Nusra will activate their sleeper cells in Lebanon.

They already have.

This now largely accepted reality materialized despite intense efforts by Hezbollah, and rather less intense efforts by the majority Sunni Lebanese army to stop them. North in Tripoli and its environs, South in Saida and East in the Bekaa around Arsal as well as other localities Sunnis are getting over their initial revulsion and taking a second look at Da'ish (ISIS). Meanwhile, the relatively tolerant "Lebanese model" is disappearing in view of the increasing sectarian tone of military interventions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and it appears to be the case that Lebanon in now part of this devolution into intra-Muslim violence as "with us or against us" sides are becoming ever hardened.

Like most Muslims these days, Lebanese Sunnis are tending to see themselves as victims of centuries of backwardness, marginalization, and defeat while searching for signs, or actors, that might help reverse Sunni weakness. Thus following Shiite ascendance, many of Lebanon's Sunni expressed support when an ISIS offensive rapidly seized Mosul and a large swath of Iraqi territory in June 2014.

As is becoming convincingly documented, Da'ish (ISIS) influence among alienated and radicalized youth is growing in Lebanon for many reasons. Among them are poverty, perceived empty lives, revulsion at rising crime and disgust with perceived as corrupt Lebanese politicians and religious leaders. Sunni's increasingly are feeling oppressed by the Shia who are accused of blocking Lebanon's government, including Parliament and baring the election of a President under orders from a foreign country. Syrian refugees in Lebanon, mainly Sunni, who feel abused, harassed, and discriminated against by the government and with suspicion by Shia in areas where refugees have taken refuge.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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