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Strikes in Lebanon undermine sectarianism

by Simon Assaf

The biggest danger of a sectarian “spillover” is in Lebanon. There have been sectarian clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, close to the border with Syria’s restive cities of Homs and Hama.

This is however a legacy of the country’s 15-year civil war. There have been frequent confrontations among the city’s poor Alawi and Sunni neighbourhoods that pre-date the Syria revolution.

The crisis in Lebanon is further complicated by deep divisions inside the government between parties loyal to the Lebanese resistance, that support the Syrian regime, and pro-western March 14 parties, which claim loyalty to the revolution.

Yet attempts to label this as a purely sectarian division are over-simplistic. There is significant support for the Syrian opposition among Lebanon's Shia Muslims, alongside growing unease inside the pro-western parties on the direction of the revolution.

Lebanon is not about to be plunged into a sectarian civil war. There are far more significant developments in the country, including a growing strike movement that has seen wildcat action by electricity workers, teachers and civil servants. These strikes, which have drawn in workers in all parts of the country, are feeding growing unhappiness with the sectarian division of power among the country’s elite.


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International
Tue 5 Jun 2012, 17:15 BST
Issue No. 2306
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