Friday, August 1, 2014
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Syrian war spills over into Lebanon

Syria has a long history of murdering Lebanese leaders who have opposed domination by Damascus.

Syrian war spills over into Lebanon

Bireh, Lebanon - In my column today I write about the spillover from the fighting in Syria that threatens to spark sectarian warfare in neighboring countries.

Last week I went to a memorial service for Sheikh Ahmed Abdul-Wahid, a popular Sunni cleric who was mysteriously gunned down at a Lebanese army checkpoint, presumably because he was an outspoken supporter of the rebels who are trying to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al Assad.

Syria has a long history of murdering Lebanese leaders who have opposed domination by Damascus. That history was evident in the huge banners that hung from homes and the mosque in Bireh.  Some showed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Sunni who was blown up by a powerful car bomb; a U.N. investigation implemented figures from Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite movement inside Lebanon that is allied with Assad and Iran.

And other banners showed Abdul Wahid in front of a Syrian flag, or photos taken at events where he had denounced the Syrian regime. Mourners filed into a mosque where the cleric was eulogized. Outside the mosque a huge tent was set up to feed mourners.

The atmosphere was tribal; right now the leaders at this memorial are forgoing thoughts of revenge. But that could change.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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