Clashes sparked by Syria conflict continue in Lebanon

Fighting in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli continued into Wednesday morning as the death toll rose to at least 10 people. An estimated 100 people were also injured in clashes between the Sunni Muslim district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The fighting, sparked by the Syrian conflict, has been described ...

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Anti-Damascus regime supporters gather in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli following clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime supporters on August 21, 2012. Clashes erupted days after a wave of kidnappings targeting Syrians in Lebanon, in a new sign that violence in neighbouring Syria is exacerbating tensions in the small Mediterranean country. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Fighting in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli continued into Wednesday morning as the death toll rose to at least 10 people. An estimated 100 people were also injured in clashes between the Sunni Muslim district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The fighting, sparked by the Syrian conflict, has been described as some of the heaviest violence since Lebanon's civil war. An estimated 10 Lebanese soldiers have been injured in efforts to stop the violence. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati appealed to the groups in Lebanon's second largest city to end the "absurd battle" urging them "not to allow anyone to transform you into ammunition for someone else's war." Tripoli's clashes have heightened concerns that Lebanon is being pulled into Syria's civil war. Coupled with last week's kidnappings of Syrians by Shiite clans in Lebanon and the recent arrest of a former Lebanese official allegedly allied with the Syrian leadership, fears are increasing that Syria will drag the volatile sectarian country into a regional conflict.

Syria

The Syrian government has said it is willing to discuss President Bashar al-Assad's exit as Syrian forces have stepped up attacks in Damascus and Aleppo. During a visit to Russia, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadril Jamil said Assad's resignation could not be a precursor for talks, but that all problems, including Assad stepping down, could be covered in negotiations. After meeting with Jamil, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that there should be no interference on Syria after U.S. President Barack Obama warned Syria against the use of chemical weapons. However, he continued, "The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue." The United States has expressed skepticism over Assad's willingness to step down. Meanwhile, around 200 people have been killed across Syria on Wednesday. Up to 40 people were killed in shelling and raids by Syrian troops in Damascus particularly in the districts of Kfar Souseh and Nahr Eishain in what may be the heaviest bombardment this month. Additionally, shelling and jet fire continued in Aleppo. Free Syrian Army commander Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi claimed the opposition has taken control over 60 percent of the embattled city of Aleppo. However a Syrian security source has denied the claim.

Fighting in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli continued into Wednesday morning as the death toll rose to at least 10 people. An estimated 100 people were also injured in clashes between the Sunni Muslim district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The fighting, sparked by the Syrian conflict, has been described as some of the heaviest violence since Lebanon’s civil war. An estimated 10 Lebanese soldiers have been injured in efforts to stop the violence. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati appealed to the groups in Lebanon’s second largest city to end the "absurd battle" urging them "not to allow anyone to transform you into ammunition for someone else’s war." Tripoli’s clashes have heightened concerns that Lebanon is being pulled into Syria’s civil war. Coupled with last week’s kidnappings of Syrians by Shiite clans in Lebanon and the recent arrest of a former Lebanese official allegedly allied with the Syrian leadership, fears are increasing that Syria will drag the volatile sectarian country into a regional conflict.

Syria

The Syrian government has said it is willing to discuss President Bashar al-Assad’s exit as Syrian forces have stepped up attacks in Damascus and Aleppo. During a visit to Russia, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadril Jamil said Assad’s resignation could not be a precursor for talks, but that all problems, including Assad stepping down, could be covered in negotiations. After meeting with Jamil, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that there should be no interference on Syria after U.S. President Barack Obama warned Syria against the use of chemical weapons. However, he continued, "The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue." The United States has expressed skepticism over Assad’s willingness to step down. Meanwhile, around 200 people have been killed across Syria on Wednesday. Up to 40 people were killed in shelling and raids by Syrian troops in Damascus particularly in the districts of Kfar Souseh and Nahr Eishain in what may be the heaviest bombardment this month. Additionally, shelling and jet fire continued in Aleppo. Free Syrian Army commander Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi claimed the opposition has taken control over 60 percent of the embattled city of Aleppo. However a Syrian security source has denied the claim.

Headlines  

  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has requested a $4.8 billion loan in a meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury said it will temporarily lift Iran sanctions for U.S. based NGOs that want to send assistance to Iran’s earthquake victims.

Arguments & Analysis 

The shape of Egypt’s second republic‘ (Hind M. Ahmed Zaki, Egypt Independent)

"Most Egyptians will come to remember 13 August 2012 as more than just another long hot day of the holy month of Ramadan. Just a few hours before sunset when millions waited eagerly to break their fast, news broke out of a major development in the ongoing power struggle between two main power houses: the generals representing the country’s military past, and the political faction seeking to control its future. President Mohamed Morsy tipped the balance in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-June, when he announced the revocation of the supplement to the Constitutional Declaration issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Moreover, a presidential decree announced a major reshuffle within the ranks of the military establishment, including, most noticeably, the forced retirement of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and de-facto military ruler since 11 February 2011, as well as the military chief of staff, Lieutenant General Sami Anan."

Unprecedented megalomania on Iran‘ (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz)

"It’s reasonable to assume that all our "senior officials" have learned the lesson of the Yom Kippur War and are looking at the raw intelligence information rather than relying on the analysis put together by Military Intelligence. If so, the average citizen wants to know, what is the basis for the drastic differences of opinion between the prime minister and defense minister, on the one hand, and the professional security elite, both past and present, on the other? Assuming that all are operating without outside considerations coming into play, one can only conclude that behind the differences lie contradictory views of Israel’s true war aims."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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