This year, Arab political Islam will be greatly influenced by U.S. regional policy, as it has been since the Obama administration came into office six years ago. Indeed, as the U.S. standing in the region rose with Obama’s presidency beginning in January 2009, so did the fortunes of Arab political Islam.
Concerns about supporting a national army collaborating with a ‘terrorist organisation’ in Lebanon have in recent times been superseded by threats inherent in growing regional conflict.
The Shatila Palestinian camp has no library, nor does adjacent Sabra or Ain El-Hilweh in the south. And, after recent statements by Lebanon’s foreign minister, some fear that the thousands of Syrian refugee children within them will soon have even slimmer chances of learning to read and write.
Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
Hezbollah clashes with Syrian rebels on the outskirts of Ersal seem to be widening the divide between residents of the Eastern Bekaa town – increasingly dominated by Syrian rebels, including the radical Nusra Front – and other regions as well as the Lebanese state.
With jihadists leading a Sunni uprising against Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are beginning to reverberate across the region, raising fears of contagion in divided Lebanon where a suicide bombing took place on Friday after a period of calm.
The war in Syria has brought back to the forefront the concept of ‘jihad’, with tens of thousands of fighters currently waging what they believe to be a religious war there.
An inflow of Russian-made weapons. Political and military support from Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Sharp dissension among fractious rebel groups. And the unyielding loyalty of the armed forces.
Shortly after President Obama’s startling telephone conversation with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, a Saudi Arabian journalist wrote that “The phone call between Obama and Rouhani shocked the Gulf states, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, and other countries.” No matter which president initiated the call, he wrote, “What is important to know is what stands behind the conversation and how deep the ties are between America and Iran.”
The recently restarted talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are the only peaceful political activity amidst ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabian religious scholars are leading an increasingly vocal chorus of Islamic preachers who are urging Muslims and Arabs to support Syrian rebels against what they say are atrocities at the hands of Iran-backed Shiite forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel is being drawn into Syria's quagmire as it threatens to act further on transfers of "game-changing" weapons to hostile protagonists involved in Syria's civil war, be they Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Jihadist Sunni rebels, or loyalist forces of President Bashar al Assad.
When European Union foreign ministers discuss a proposal to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov will present his government’s case for linking two suspects in the Jul. 18, 2012 bombing of an Israeli tourist bus to Hezbollah.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov’s dramatic announcement Tuesday on the Bulgarian investigation of the July 2012 terror bombing of an Israeli tourist bus was initially reported by Western news media as suggesting clear evidence of Hezbollah’s responsibility for the killings.
Since its inception, Hezbollah’s clout within its community has been solid. However, in recent weeks, the Party of God has been facing increasing difficulties controlling its support base and stymieing discontent. These developments have led analysts to question whether or not Hezbollah is losing its grip on its followers.