Al-Qaeda’s main rebel faction in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, is talking up a dramatic expansion of their campaign against Hezbollah and other Shi’ite targets in Lebanon, with their leader insisting “the real war in Lebanon is yet to begin.”
Nusra and other Sunni Islamist factions have tried to fuel unrest in Lebanon over Hezbollah’s intervention on behalf of the Assad government, with some limited success, and have also attacked some border towns inside Lebanon.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, making public statements on the occasion of the Shi’ite holiday of Ashura, downplayed the risks posed by Nusra and other Islamist factions, insisting that they “have no future” and that Hezbollah will “have the honor of being among those who took part in defeating them.”
Historically, Lebanon has been a land where Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Christians have lived in close quarters without much incident. The civil war in neighboring Syria, with its extremely sectarian nature, has raised tensions across the border, particularly in mixed cities like Tripoli, and Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war has given the Sunni Islamists a vested interest in spreading the war there.