Friday, October 19, 2012

Beirut Explosion

The bombing in Beirut earlier today is a firm reminder of the intense political dynamics that are at contest in Lebanon and Syria. A contest in which Syria-Iran-Hizballah are at war with regional forces of liberation. I believe that today's attack was carried out by agents of the Syrian government and perhaps also with the co-ordination or support of the Lebanese Hizballah. While I have no specific evidence to back up this assertion, I would point to a number of indicators. Also some analysis...

1) The attack took place in a predominantly Christian neighborhood of eastern Beirut and killed a senior Lebanese civil servant who was an outspoken critic of the Assad regime. In addition, Assad has previously warned that he would seek to push the conflict in Syria into a broadened external struggle.

2) Syria and Hizballah have a clear track record of support for violence against those who challenge their political power. This has involved recent, previous attacks on both major Lebanese officials and foreign entities. Iran also shares this preference for using covert force against those who oppose them.

3) Hizballah is increasingly concerned by the serious damage that their continued support for Assad is inflicting on their broader ideational legitimacy. Instigating further currents of regional instability (as today's attack would suggest) offers Hizballah a method by which they believe that they can distract world attention. I would argue that Hizballah's recent UAV flight over Israel provides another timely example of this dynamic. I have previously suggested that Hizballah would begin to abandon Assad once they came to believe that his regime was doomed. While I expected that this would have occurred before now, I remain confident of that belief. Ultimately, it is my opinion that Hizballah still believes that Assad can be saved. If evidence shows that today's attack (and the future instability that it foreshadows) is linked to Syria, it should serve to re-emphasize the need for the United States to take more concrete action to help Syrians liberate their country.

4) Faced with the EU tightened oil sanctions last week and Iran's continuing economic implosion, I believe (as I have previously argued) that Iran is likely to respond with more acts of aggression in the near future. Again, the United States must be prepared to respond to any attacks that take place.

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