Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Syrian Vortex

More bad news from the Middle East:
A Hezbollah military leader was assassinated on Wednesday in front of his home south of Beirut, the Lebanese militant organization said, in what was feared to be an escalation of reprisals over the group’s alliance with the Syrian government in that country’s brutal civil war.

The killing of the military leader, Hassane Laqees, came a day after Hezbollah’s top leader, Hassan Nasrallah, accused Saudi Arabia of responsibility for a deadly bombing in Beirut last month that targeted the embassy of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival and the military and political benefactor of both Hezbollah and the Syrian government. . . .

Hezbollah accused “the Israeli enemy” of targeting him and said Israel would have to “bear all the responsibility and ramifications of this vile crime.” Israeli officials denied involvement.

At the same time, memorial images circulated on social media showing him against a backdrop of the Sayida Zeinab shrine near Damascus, in Syria, framing his death as part of the conflict there. And a previously unknown group calling itself the Free Sunnis of Baalbek, a town in the Bekaa Valley where Hezbollah support is strong, claimed responsibility for the killing.

Hezbollah, a Shiite organization and historically close ally of Iran and of Syria’s government, has sent fighters to defend the shrine, revered by Shiites, and to aid President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in other key battles, a decision that has enraged Hezbollah’s Sunni rivals, who back the Syrian rebels.
I fear that Syria is becoming a vortex that will draw all its neighbors into violent turmoil.

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