Rival Rallies Fuel Lebanon Tensions

February 15, 2008 11:19 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Hariri mourners and Hezbollah supporters remembered their dead on Thursday. The scenes recalled the years of Lebanon’s civil war.

30-Second Summary

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to wage “open war” against Israel in retaliation for top military chief Imad Mugniyah’s death in a car explosion on Tuesday. 

Although Israel has denied responsibility, some observers have suggested Mugniyah's assassination bears the signature of the Israeli secret services.

Israel has strengthened security measures at home and at its institutions abroad.

Mugniyah’s funeral on Thursday coincided with rallies marking the third anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. Syria is believed to be behind Hariri’s death, as he had pushed to limit Syria's influence in Lebanese affairs.

Thousands of troops were deployed to prevent clashes between the pro-Syrian Hezbollah sympathizers and the anti-Syrian Hariri mourners.

Lebanon has had no president or functioning parliament since November. The chances of that situation being resolved diminished with the December assassination of Brigadier General Francois Hajj, who was tipped to become Lebanese army chief, and the shooting of rioting Shiite youths in January.

Many commentators compared the most recent violence to the incidents that led to the Lebanese Civil War, with a Middle East Times reporter writing that the country “stands to erupt into uncontrollable violence at the slightest clash.”   

Headline Links: Lebanon mourns Rafik Hariri, as Hezbollah buries leader

Background: Lebanon’s political stalemate

Reaction: Israel denies responsibility, increases security

Opinion & Analysis: What next for Lebanon?

Key players: Rafik Hariri and Imad Mugniyah

Rafik Hariri (1944–2005)
Imad Fayez Mugniyah (1962–2008)

Reference: Hezbollah

Historical context: The Lebanese Civil War, 1975–1989

The Lebanese Civil War began on the morning of April 13, 1975, with a drive-by shooting that killed four of the congregation at a church in east Beirut. Initially the fighting was between Christian, Muslim, and Palestinian groups, but the conflict grew as Israel and Syria became involved.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines