ASIA/LEBANON - Is there an attempt to destabilize a country shaken by the economic crisis and the conflict in the Middle East?

Tuesday, 16 April 2024 violence   terrorism  

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Is there an attempt to destabilize Lebanon by reactivating sectarian conflicts? This is the question that is being asked in the Land of the Cedars following a series of events that have heightened local tensions, while the entire Middle East region is marked by the conflict in Gaza and the attack on Israel by Iran and its regional allies. The murder of Pascal Sleiman, coordinator of the “Christian Lebanese Forces Party” in Jbeil (Byblos), was attributed to a Syrian gang of alleged “car thieves” (see Fides, 9/4/2024). During interrogation, the kidnappers said they wanted to steal Sleiman's car. However, their confessions were immediately proven false as they abandoned the vehicle and transported Sleiman's body to Syria after he died from his injuries. According to Syrian media, they crossed the Syrian border through unauthorized border crossings and entered an area controlled by Hezbollah. claimed that they had acted to These events have raised numerous questions about the motives of the operation and its sponsors. It is feared that the possible unknown people behind the operation wanted to incite conflict between Christians and Muslims by accusing powerful local forces of being behind the crime and to sow discord between Lebanese Christians and Syrians. Lebanon is home to around 1.5 million Syrian refugees who fled the civil war that broke out in their country in 2011. A presence that is not always welcomed by the Lebanese population, plagued by the economic and financial crisis. Also on April 9, Mohammad Ibrahim Srour, a Lebanese money changer who had been sanctioned by U.S. authorities for transferring funds to Hamas on behalf of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, was found dead in a villa in the village of Beit Meri, east of Beirut. According to his family, Srour was missing for a week before his body was found with multiple gunshots and signs of torture. Lebanese authorities are accusing Israel's Mossad intelligence agency of the crime allegedly committed by Syrian and Lebanese mercenaries. In addition, a series of attacks were carried out on the headquarters of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Jdita in the Bekaa region. The perpetrators left a Lebanese Armed Forces flag at the scene, fueling tensions and exacerbating sectarian divisions, fueled on social media by trolls and provocateurs. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/4/2024)