The Middle East Channel

Fresh fighting in Lebanon breaks Tripoli truce

Fresh clashes disrupted a fragile truce in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli. Local security, political, and religious officials negotiated a ceasefire to begin at 1400 GMT on Wednesday in attempts to end days of fighting between Sunnis from the district of Bab al-Tabbanah and Alawites from the adjoining neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. Both groups are ...

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Anti-Damascus regime supporters run in the street in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, on August 22, 2012, as fighting continues between pro- and anti-Syrian regime supporters. The fighting erupted late on August 21, in Tripoli, home to a Sunni community hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and a community of Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which the Syrian leader belongs. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Fresh clashes disrupted a fragile truce in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli. Local security, political, and religious officials negotiated a ceasefire to begin at 1400 GMT on Wednesday in attempts to end days of fighting between Sunnis from the district of Bab al-Tabbanah and Alawites from the adjoining neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. Both groups are split over the conflict in Syria. Despite the truce, fighting resumed in Jabal Mohsen, killing one person, which brought the death toll to 10, and wounding two others including a six-year-old boy who has been paralyzed from gunfire. An estimated 80 people have been injured in the four days of clashes in which both sides have used automatic weapons and anti-tank rockets. Arab diplomats have released a report on recent violence in Lebanon presenting security strategies. The report warns that "Lebanon is heading toward a critical and dangerous stage that could destroy all the achievements that have been made since the Taif Accord was signed in 1989" which effectively ended the Lebanese civil war.

Syria

Syrian government forces assaulted a Sunni Muslim suburb of Damascus as Amnesty International warned of the humanitarian crisis in the country’s largest city of Aleppo. The Syrian army attacked the town of Daraya, outside Damascus, for 24 hours with heavy artillery and helicopter fire before troops backed by tanks conducted house-by-house raids, even though it appeared opposition forces had retreated. According to the activist group, the Local Coordination Committee, 15 people were killed in rocket fire and an estimated 150 were wounded. Up to 120 people died across Syria Wednesday in clashes between Syrian forces and opposition fighters, mainly from Damascus suburbs and shelling in the capital, concentrated on the southern neighborhoods of Kfar Sousa and Nahr Aisha. Additionally, Syrian border guards and the opposition Free Syrian Army are fighting over a military base and airfield near the Iraqi border. Meanwhile, after a 10-day visit to Aleppo early in August, Amnesty International released a report stating, "Civilians are enduring a horrific level of violence" in the city.

Headlines  

  • Israel and South African Jewish leaders are protesting the South African decision to label products made in the West Bank as from the "Israeli Occupied Territories."
  • Islam Afifi, chief editor of privately-owned Egyptian newspaper el-Dustour has been detained pending trial on allegations of insulting President Mohamed Morsi and "spreading lies."
  • Moroccan riot police broke up a protest outside parliament Wednesday of activists calling for the abolition of a ceremony in which government officials pledge loyalty to the king.
  • Turkish troops killed 16 Kurdish militants in an operation on the southeastern border with Iran and Iraq after an assault on a military convoy killed five Turkish soldiers.

Arguments & Analysis

Lebanese need restraint in face of provocations‘ (The National)

"Lebanese are used to foreign meddling in their politics. Some might say, Lebanese politics are defined by it. But not since the 2006 war with Israel and the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri have more powerful neighbours threatened the country’s stability so much. Syria’s troubles were always going to spill over into Lebanon given the complex overlap of kinship and communal ties. Is is perhaps surprising that the country stayed relatively peaceful for so long as Syria spiralled out of the Assads’ control."

Gate Crashing the Opposition‘ (James Dobbins and Alireza Nader, Foreign Affairs)

"In his July 31 article "Tehran Takedown," Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, argues that both threatening war and continuing to impose sanctions are unattractive options for Western governments’ responses to the Iranian nuclear program. Ledeen instead proposes that the United States promote regime change in Iran in order to topple the current system and to replace it with more moderate figures. Ledeen is right to urge U.S. support for democratic change in Iran, but wrong in several of his key assumptions. "

A Culture of Hatred in Israel‘ (Paul Pillar, The National Interest)

"Amid an atmosphere fed by such comments, one does not need to look, as some Israelis are in searching for explanations for the latest incidents involving perpetrators so young, at such things as deficient parenting. Nimrod Aloni of the Institute for Educational Thought in Tel Aviv notes that a teenager acting as a member of a lynch mob "cannot just be an expression of something he has heard at home." Aloni continues, "This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K. This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.""

Bashar Al-Assad’s War on Syria’s Children‘ (Mike Giglio, The Daily Beast)

"It’s just a game but one that mirrors his reality all too closely. For the last two weeks, Hakam Balika, 8, and his three brothers have been living in Antakya, a city near the Syrian border in Turkey, refugees from a war that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. The boys fled here with their parents after their mother was badly wounded during government shelling of their hometown of Homs. She lost her left arm and much of her left waist and thigh, and doctors don’t know if she’ll walk again. After she was stabilized at a rebel-run field hospital in Homs, her husband drugged her and the boys so they’d stay quiet, then smuggled them to Turkey, a harrowing trip that involved traveling underground through drainage pipes. Now he keeps constant vigil over his wife at a hospital in Antakya."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

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