May 22, 2007

Syria Targeting Russia?

Mustapha at Beirut Spring makes an interesting point about the escalation of terrorism in Beirut and its expansion into the posh Sunni neighborhood of Verdun. The target was (possibly) the Russian Cultural Center, which reportedly was right near where the car bomb exploded, in order to pressure the Russian government to veto the pending tribunal against Hariri's assassins in the United Nations Security Council.

It's unclear to me how close the bomb actually was to the Russian Cultural Center so I don't know if Mustapha is right or if this is a bit of a stretch. But he could be right, and if so this is a serious escalation.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese government has orders to “finish off” Fatah Al Islam in the Palestinian camp in Northern Lebanon. Fatah Al Islam exists in other camps, as well, and this fight could go on for a while. The group is small enough, though, that they can be erased from the world if the army doesn't stand down. The fact that they are using Palestinian civilians as human shields means they have no sea to swim in and no place to hide.

For background on the Syrian connection to this group, see Tony Badran and William Harris.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 10:31 AM
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