Tribunal attack fuels Lebanon fears
Last week’s attack on two Lebanon Tribunal investigators in Beirut has highlighted internal tensions in the country and raised fears of a return to violence. Although no one has claimed the attack, powerful government coalition partner Hezbollah is upping the pressure on Prime Minister Saad Hariri to renounce cooperation with the international tribunal that is investigating the murder of his father.
Many Lebanese now fear a repeat of the clashes of May 2008, when Shiite gunmen took over a big part of mainly Sunni Beirut after the government tried to shut down Hezbollah’s telecommunication network. The crisis was resolved following Qatari mediation that led to the formation of a national unity government.
Lebanon’s various allies in the Middle East and the West are currently engaged in a flurry of diplomatic trips around the region to keep the government from falling and violence from erupting. Saudi Arabia and the United States support Hariri’s Sunni-led allies while Iran and Syria are allies of Hezbollah’s Shia grouping.