Whether it’s between Russia and the US or Iran and Saudi Arabia, many have seen Syria’s ongoing civil war as something of a proxy war, and as foreign fighters flock to the nation, there is some point to it. Yet that proxy war is getting a proxy war of its own.
In Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli, fighting has raged off and on for months, with the latest round killing at least 24 people. The combatants, as with Syria’s war, are a Sunni neighborhood and an Alawite neighborhood, where fighters are trading artillery and sniper fire into residential districts.
On the Sunni side, the allegiance to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in fairly overt, with the group’s leadership urging Lebanese Sunnis to rebel against Hezbollah, and the Sunni militia demanding Hezbollah withdraw from Syria as a condition for a ceasefire in Tripoli.
The Alawite side has been more reactive than pro-active, but there is a clear sentiment, mirroring the one in Syria’s government, that their opponents are terrorists who cannot be reasoned with. It’s a sectarian war that could blow up across Lebanon, as it is in Syria and indeed Iraq, but for now it is centered entirely on central Tripoli, and two neighborhoods that coexisted for decades.