Syr­ian sparks light ten­sions in Lebanon By Jenny Gustafs­son

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - JENNY GUSTAFS­SON Jour­nal­ist

Anal­y­sis and com­men­tary on the re­cent out­breaks of vi­o­lence in Lebanon trig­gered by on­go­ing ten­sions in neigh­bor­ing.

The Le­banese are well aware their des­tiny is tied to that of their Syr­ian broth­ers and sis­ters, and have ev­ery rea­son to feel anx­ious about what comes next. The ques­tion is whether cur­rent events are any more of a threat than those they have lived through be­fore: This is not the first time Le­banese so­ci­ety has seemed deeply di­vided, or that the re­gion has been at boil­ing point. None­the­less, the im­pact of mount­ing sec­tar­ian ten­sion in Syria is al­ready be­ing felt in its coastal neigh­bor

The sunny Satur­day in late May seemed like any other in Lebanon; out­doors cafés filled with visi­tors, sea­side prom­e­nades sport­ing jog­gers and fam­i­lies, ev­ery high­way lead­ing out of Beirut clogged with peo­ple ea­ger to es­cape the ur­ban heat. But it was not busi­ness as usual ev­ery­where in the coun­try. In the north deadly street bat­tles were be­ing waged in the Le­banese city of Tripoli. Armed men had turned Ja­bal Mohsen and Bab al-Tab­baneh, neigh­bor­ing but po­lit­i­cally di­vided neigh­bor­hoods, into a bat­tle­field. The gun­fire and clashes were a con­crete in­di­ca­tion of the fur­ther deep­en­ing of Lebanon’s en­trenched po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions as ten­sions in Syria spill across the bor­der.

Grow­ing ten­sions

Af­ter a week of fight­ing 11 peo­ple had died and over 100 been left in­jured. And more wor­ri­some news was soon to come. The fol­low­ing Sun­day, May 20, well-known Sheikh Ahmed Ab­dul Wahid and a com­pan­ion were shot dead at an army check­point just north of Tripoli. Within hours peo­ple were up in arms. Tires were burned and main thor­ough­fares across Lebanon closed off. In Beirut ri­val­ing fac­tions took their weapons onto the street in Tarik El-Jdideh, a densely pop­u­lated and im­pov­er­ished sub­urb. For the Le­banese, what they had been ex­pect­ing for over a year -- that the cri­sis in Syria would spark vi­o­lence in their own coun­try -- had sud­denly be­come a re­al­ity.

The street bat­tles were not iso­lated events. There had been sev­eral re­cent in­ci­dents: kid­nap­pings in the Bekaa Val­ley and along the Syr­ian bor­der; shoot­ings -- on sev­eral oc­ca­sions fa­tal ones -- by the Syr­ian army across the bor­der; xeno­pho­bic at­tacks on Syr­ian work­ers in Beirut. On the week­end of June 2-3, an­other deadly round of fight­ing hit Ja­bal Mohsen and Bab al-Tab­baneh, this time leav­ing 15 dead and many more wounded.

Lebanon is no stranger to sud­den out­breaks of ten­sion. The 15-year long civil war be­tween 1975 and 1990 left the pop­u­la­tion deeply di­vided and much of the coun­try in ru­ins. Pol­i­tics since then has been an up­hill strug­gle. The process of re­build­ing is dif­fi­cult; that of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion even harder. Ab­sent, many would say. Wounds have yet to heal, and the legacy of hos­til­ity among the coun­try’s com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ues to make it­self felt. Re­cent years have seen nu­mer­ous out­breaks of vi­o­lence: the killing of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Rafik Hariri in 2005; a dev­as­tat­ing war be­tween Is­rael and Hezbol­lah in 2006; fight­ing over the Pales­tinian camp Nahr el-Bared in Tripoli in 2007;

street bat­tles in 2007 and 2008, and so on. Each time there is talk about a new im­pend­ing war -- a fur­ther symp­tom of the coun­try’s chronic in­sta­bil­ity and of how peo­ple have grown ac­cus­tomed to it. Today, with neigh­bor­ing Syria seem­ingly ir­re­deemable po­lar­ized, there is no short­age of spec­u­la­tion.

Fif­teen months in Syria

Since the up­ris­ing in Syria be­gan 15 months ago, the Le­banese -- well aware how deeply con­nected the two coun­tries are -- have fol­lowed de­vel­op­ments closely. “Now, all peo­ple have their gaze turned to Syria. Ev­ery sin­gle politi­cian in Lebanon is wait­ing to see what will hap­pen there,” says Le­banese jour­nal­ist Ghas­san Saoud. “Syria at this point is ev­ery­thing.” When the demon­stra­tions started, few thought they would lead to where we are today. “Syria is dif­fer­ent,” ob­servers said. Com­men­ta­tors as­sumed there was not the same dis­con­tent with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al- As­sad as there had been with de­posed lead­ers Muam­mer Gaddafi or Hosni Mubarak. As­sad, mean­while, was seen as a “pop­u­lar leader.”

As things turned out how­ever, the protests spread, spurred by the regime’s crack­down. Today, it re­mains as stead­fast and harsh as one would ex­pect from the ef­forts of an au­thor­i­tar­ian regime des­per­ately try­ing to stay in power. Sources today put the death toll in Syria at be­tween 10,000 and 15,000. “And that’s not all,” says Jas­mine Ro­man, who writes on Syria from Da­m­as­cus un­der a pseu­do­nym. “Added to that is the prob­lem with a large num­ber of peo­ple who are de­tained, miss­ing and in­ter­nally dis­placed.”

Syr­i­ans have also grown in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized. The sit­u­a­tion is un­cer­tain, and exit op­tions are few. “I didn’t ex­pect our rev­o­lu­tion to be easy, not at all,” says Mustafa Haid, a Syr­ian hu­man rights con­sul­tant, “but I also didn’t see it be­ing this com­pli­cated and bru­tal.” He con­tin­ues. “Things stayed peace­ful for a long time, but they have lately turned more vi­o­lent. This is a re­sponse to the regime’s quelling of the protests. They have de­lib­er­ately been tar­get­ing the peace­ful ac­tivists: im­pris­on­ing them, scar­ing them, forc­ing them to flee the coun­try or go un­der­ground. That sparked what we see today: lots of vi­o­lence and counter-vi­o­lence.”

The Syr­ian-Le­banese con­nec­tion

From the Le­banese hori­zon, this is not a pos­i­tive sight. The two coun­tries, like all colo­nial cre­ations, are rel­a­tively re­cent and con­tested states. Be­fore World War I, Syria and Lebanon be­longed to a com­monly ad­min­is­trated unit un­der the Ot­toman Em­pire: the his­tor­i­cal “Greater Syria,” which cov­ered the land be­tween the bor­der with Iran and the Mediter­ranean coast. A cen­tury later, fa­mil­ial, so­cial and eco­nomic ties re­main strong. Po­lit­i­cally, it has been an un­easy re­la­tion­ship, to say the least. Dur­ing the Le­banese civil war, Syria was one of the chief an­tag­o­nists, some­thing well re­mem­bered by many Le­banese. Syr­ian civil­ians too have suf­fered from this, es­pe­cially work­ers in Lebanon, of­ten as­so­ci­ated with their regime’s di­vide-and-rule poli­cies.

In Lebanon’s north re­la­tion­ships be­tween Syr­i­ans and Le­banese are of­ten close. The bor­der has al­ways been por­ous: Farm­ers are used to graz­ing their an­i­mals on both sides and fam­i­lies cross to visit

rel­a­tives and friends. Eco­nom­i­cally too, the re­gion is closely con­nected. Tripoli and its sur­round­ings are de­pen­dent on Syr­ian work­ers and cross-bor­der trade. In the Bekaa val­ley in Lebanon’s east, the sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar. It is also here that most of the Syr­ian refugees live. At least 26,000 peo­ple have come to Lebanon, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the num­ber is ex­pected to rise. In the north it is lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties that have shoul­dered the largest re­spon­si­bil­ity. Many refugees stay with fam­i­lies who have opened their homes. “From the first peo­ple who came, they have been gen­er­ously hosted by peo­ple in the area,” says the UNHCR’s Dana Suleiman. “Some are hous­ing rel­a­tives or friends, but many of them are pre­vi­ously un­known to these fam­i­lies.”

A house di­vided

When the up­ris­ing in Syria started, it was no sur­prise that many in Lebanon’s north quickly em­braced it. “There are lots of peo­ple in and around Tripoli who iden­tify strongly with the rev­o­lu­tion,” says Haid. “They feel that it’s their rev­o­lu­tion too.” Lebanon as a whole, how­ever, is deeply di­vided on the is­sue. Po­lit­i­cally, the coun­try was al­ready split be­fore the up­ris­ings. But the past 15 months have seen di­vi­sions pro­nounced and re­in­forced. The po­lit­i­cal di­vide sep­a­rates two al­liances: March 8 and March 14. March 8 is cur­rently in par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity and gath­ers the largely Shi­ite Hezbol­lah and Amal as well as half the coun­try’s Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion. March 14, ousted from the na­tional lead­er­ship last year, is led by the largely-Sunni Fu­ture Move­ment party, al­lied with the other half of the Chris­tians.

Both sides fol­low the es­tab­lished pat­tern of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Lebanon: They ap­peal to com­mu­nal sen­ti­ments, cal­cu­late their tac­tics metic­u­lously, and know how to shape facts to fit their own nar­ra­tives. Po­lit­i­cally they rep­re­sent two dif­fer­ent vi­sions for what Lebanon is. March 8, herald­ing the con­cept of “resistance” to Is­raeli and Western dom­i­nance of the re­gion, is close to the Syr­ian regime. The bloc’s sup­port­ers are skep­ti­cal of the Syr­ian rev­o­lu­tion, see­ing it as an at­tempt to change the re­gional or­der with the back­ing of the West. March 14, on the other hand, main­tains close ties to Saudi Ara­bia, the Gulf states, and coun­tries in the West. For them, Syria’s up­ris­ing rep­re­sents a le­git­i­mate re­volt and an oc­ca­sion to re­move As­sad, a bit­ter en­emy, from power. Both un­der­stand well that what­ever the end re­sult, it will de­ter­mine their own po­lit­i­cal fu­ture. Granted, in Lebanon there are many who refuse to po­si­tion them­selves on ei­ther side of this di­vide. To them, the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem is flawed and serves to per­pet­u­ate na­tional di­vi­sions. These voices, how­ever, rarely man­age to make real po­lit­i­cal im­pact.

Fault lines

Ja­bal Mohsen and Bab al-Tab­baneh are more than ri­val neigh­bor­hoods. In many ways, they serve as a metaphor for the coun­try at large. Hos­til­i­ties be­tween them date back to the years of the civil war, when both were vic­tims of hor­ri­ble acts: killings, dis­ap­pear­ances, de­struc­tion, a mas­sacre in Bab al-Tab­baneh in 1986. Today, writes In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group, “wounds have yet to heal; mem­o­ries are fresh; iden­ti­ties are de­fined pri­mar­ily by vic­tim­iza­tion, yes­ter­day’s suf­fer­ing, per­sis­tent threats and the prospect of re­venge.” There is also some­thing else that re­mains at the very core of the hos­til­i­ties, some­thing that con­tin­ues to haunt Le­banese so­ci­ety and sti­fle any at­tempts at re­form: sec­tar­i­an­ism. In fact, to speak in terms of com­mu­nal in­ter­ests and di­vi­sions has been a po­lit­i­cal prac­tice for so long now that it per­vades much of what takes place in the coun­try. When po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions sharpen, so do those that sep­a­rate Sun­nis, Shi­ites, Chris­tians and oth­ers. From this per­spec­tive, there is more to the re­cent fight­ing than dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal fac­tions clash­ing. Bab al-Tab­baneh, with its Sunni ma­jor­ity, rep­re­sents one side in the larger Sun­niShi­ite po­lar­iza­tion; Alaw­ite Ja­bal Mohsen the other.

Con­fes­sional sen­ti­ments, writes so­ci­ol­o­gist and au­thor Samir Kha­laf, “have al­ways have been ef­fec­tive sources of so­cial sup­port and po­lit­i­cal mo­bi­liza­tion in Lebanon.” But, sus­tained by “the psychology of dread, hos­tile bond­ing and ide­olo­gies of en­mity” they keep

BOTH SIDES FOL­LOW THE ES­TAB­LISHED PAT­TERN OF PO­LIT­I­CAL PAR­TIES IN LEBANON: THEY AP­PEAL TO COM­MU­NAL SEN­TI­MENTS, CAL­CU­LATE THEIR TAC­TICS METIC­U­LOUSLY, AND KNOW HOW TO SHAPE FACTS TO FIT THEIR OWN NAR­RA­TIVES

peo­ple apart rather than bind­ing them to­gether. At the mo­ment, sec­tar­ian di­vi­sions ap­pear to be grow­ing rather than di­min­ish­ing in Lebanon, throw­ing com­pli­cated con­cepts like iden­tity, be­long­ing and kin­ship into the po­lit­i­cal mix.

Po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion­ing

At a mo­ment when no one can fore­see which turn Syria will take, Le­banese lead­ers are nev­er­the­less do­ing their best to fig­ure out how to play their cards. Saad Hariri, son to the mur­dered Rafik and leader of the Fu­ture Move­ment party, is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the most se­ri­ous chal­lenge to his au­thor­ity. Hav­ing been away from the coun­try for over a year, he has lost touch with his sup­port­ers and the sit­u­a­tion in Lebanon. Many of the armed men in the streets come from his voter con­stituency. Has­san Nas­ral­lah, leader of Hezbol­lah, is in an equally tricky po­si­tion. Aware that his rhetor­i­cal sup­port for As­sad has put him in a bind -- the move­ment’s claim to rep­re­sent the weak and op­pressed sits un­easily with back­ing a bru­tal regime -- he nev­er­the­less main­tains his loy­alty to the sta­tus quo in Syria. But Hezbol­lah un­der­stands the need for a solid fall­back plan in case the rev­o­lu­tion suc­ceeds. Lebanon’s Chris­tians are split be­tween sup­port­ing the rev­o­lu­tion and the regime. Like other mi­nori­ties in the re­gion, many Chris­tians fear what the al­ter­na­tive to the cur­rent or­der will bring, and stick with the logic of “bet­ter the devil you know.”

In Syria too, com­mu­nal ten­sions are in­creas­ing. Well aware that neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Lebanon and Iraq were torn apart with the help of sec­tar­ian slo­gans, many Syr­i­ans are watch­ing these de­vel­op­ments with dis­may. “Peo­ple have started to think ‘this is not my rev­o­lu­tion any­more,’” says Haid. “They feel marginal­ized when chants be­come sec­tar­ian, and when the ones get­ting the most at­ten­tion are the armed groups. They don’t iden­tify with that.” He con­tin­ues: “Peo­ple are also real­iz­ing how infected Syria is by sec­tar­i­an­ism. Top po­si­tions in the coun­try are al­ways given to peo­ple from cer­tain sects, and the ones in charge of se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence are peo­ple close to the As­sad fam­ily. These seeds have ex­isted for a long time, but peo­ple are start­ing to wa­ter them now. The regime, of course, is do­ing all it can to por­tray the rev­o­lu­tion as sec­tar­ian. To some ex­tent, it has suc­ceeded.”

Where is the so­cial con­tract?

The Syr­ian un­rest cer­tainly trig­gered Lebanon’s ten­sions, but the spillover fac­tor should not be ex­ag­ger­ated. The Le­banese events op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to their own logic: the street bat­tles, the killings and ar­rests, the rise in sec­tar­ian dis­course -- these are all symp­toms of a dys­func­tional state. The coun­try is today char­ac­ter­ized by re­cur­rent po­lit­i­cal dead­locks, weak cit­i­zen rights and a gen­eral lack of ac­count­abil­ity and so­cial jus­tice. These are prob­lems with deep his­tor­i­cal roots that are not be­ing ad­dressed in a se­ri­ous way by any po­lit­i­cal party. “Le­banese pol­i­tics is a mean col­o­niz­ing ma­chine,” writes so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Ghas­san Hage. “It de­vours ev­ery­thing and politi­cizes any­thing it touches, even that which de­sires to be out­side the po­lit­i­cal.”

In the re­gion, Lebanon has an im­age of be­ing a rel­a­tively pros­per­ous place with beaches, restau­rants and en­ter­tain­ment. True, to some ex­tent, but the coun­try is also grap­pling big so­cioe­co­nomic dis­par­i­ties. There is a real and grow­ing frus­tra­tion among peo­ple who live on the mar­gins of so­ci­ety. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram (UNDP) fig­ures, nearly one-third of Le­banese live in poverty4. With prices tripling over the past few years, ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties like hous­ing, gas and elec­tric­ity are hard to af­ford for many. “The Le­banese are vic­tims of ex­tor­tion and fraud,” writes Kha­laf. Abu Fuad, a res­i­dent of sub­ur­ban Tripoli, strug­gles ev­ery day to pro­vide for his fam­ily. “In Lebanon, there is no such thing as rights,” he says. “If you don’t have money, you have noth­ing.” He con­tin­ues: “You see what’s hap­pen­ing all over the Arab world? That’s be­cause our lead­ers want ev­ery­thing for them­selves. They never ask peo­ple what they need.”

It is peo­ple in in­for­mal set­tle­ments, re­mote ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and ur­ban slums who are worst off. North­ern Lebanon is over­rep­re­sented. In Tripoli, 57 per­cent live be­low the poverty line. The area has higher un­em­ploy­ment rates, more school dropouts and a weaker so­cial se­cu­rity pres­ence than other parts of Lebanon. “There’s govern­ment ne­glect and a feel­ing among peo­ple that they are for­got­ten,” says Julie David­son, a Beirut-based de­vel­op­ment re­searcher. “There are still vil­lages in 2012 that don’t have govern­ment elec­tric­ity and have to build their own roads.” Ja­bal Mohsen and Bab al-Tab­baneh are at the heart of this de­pri­va­tion. The two might be bit­terly di­vided po­lit­i­cally, but they are united in their vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Here, youth il­lit­er­acy -- an in­di­ca­tor of how the next gen­er­a­tion is far­ing -- is the high­est in Lebanon. Some 20 per­cent of young men can­not read and write. “It’s hard to be­lieve how much poverty there is in Bab al-Tab­baneh and Ja­bal Mohsen,” says Tripoli res­i­dent Nada Yas­sine. “The sit­u­a­tion is very hard for peo­ple: there are no jobs, no op­por­tu­ni­ties. They have no one to turn to but re­li­gious lead­ers. And in Tripoli today there are plenty of rad­i­cal fig­ures, influenced by Iran or Saudi Ara­bia.”

Ex­ter­nal in­volve­ment

This idea of for­eign in­flu­ence is not some­thing new to the Le­banese con­text. The first half of the coun­try’s civil war was largely a proxy war be­tween op­pos­ing re­gional and global pow­ers (the other half was fought per­fectly well be­tween the Le­banese them­selves). Af­ter peace was reached, Is­raeli troops con­tin­ued to oc­cupy south­ern Lebanon; the Syr­ian regime dic­tated much of what took place else­where. A telling joke from that time goes: “In Lebanon, you can crit­i­cize the Le­banese pres­i­dent as much as you like, but you can­not say a word about the Syr­ian leader.” Syria was forced to with­draw fol­low­ing mas­sive pop­u­lar protests in Beirut in 2005, leav­ing Le­banese politi­cians with a more room to in­flu­ence is­sues them­selves. But pol­i­tics con­tin­ued to be

en­tan­gled in the re­gional web: March 8 rep­re­sent­ing Syr­ian and Ira­nian in­flu­ence, March 14 the agenda of Saudi Ara­bia and the West. Today, power strug­gles in Lebanon and Syria alike are played out along these lines.

The sit­u­a­tion in both coun­tries is fed by the same forces, ex­press­ing them­selves in sim­i­lar ways. “What we see now, in both Lebanon and Syria, is that sev­eral proxy wars are be­ing fought,” says Haid. “One be­tween Iran and Saudi Ara­bia, an­other be­tween US and Rus­sian in­ter­ests. Turkey, as an emerg­ing re­gional power, is also in­volved. This in­volve­ment from out­side has a lot to do with stir­ring sec­tar­ian sen­ti­ments.” While lo­cal pow­ers have an in­ter­est in safe­guard­ing their own in­ter­ests and spheres of in­flu­ence, Western play­ers are ea­ger to se­cure po­lit­i­cal al­lies, eco­nomic part­ners and friends who will al­low them to es­tab­lish mil­i­tary bases and pro­vide them with oil.

Since the Arab up­ris­ings started, there has been much talk about the so-called “Turk­ish model” and how it can be a tem­plate for post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary state build­ing. With the sit­u­a­tion in Syria grow­ing thornier, in­ter­est in Turkey’s role is in­creas­ing. The coun­try with the long­est Syr­ian bor­der, Turkey has many rea­sons to be con­cerned with de­vel­op­ments in their neigh­bor­hood. Fric­tions in the past in­clude Syr­ian sup­port for the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK) and long-stand­ing dis­putes over wa­ter. There are also strong eco­nomic ties link­ing the two, with ma­jor Turk­ish in­vest­ments in Syria.

Re­la­tions today are strained. The amount of armed men on both sides of the bor­der is grow­ing: the prorev­o­lu­tion Free Syr­ian Army op­er­ates from the Turk­ish side; Syr­ian troops fire across the bor­der from the other. Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan’s crit­i­cism of the As­sad regime has been both vo­cal and harsh, mak­ing it clear that Turkey no longer is an im­par­tial player in the Mid­dle East.

Out­look

WHAT IS HAP­PEN­ING IN LEBANON IS VERY MUCH A REP­E­TI­TION OF A FA­MIL­IAR CY­CLE: CLASHES ERUPT; THE MIL­I­TARY TRIES, HAP­HAZ­ARDLY, TO RES­TORE OR­DER; THE FIGHT­ING CALMS DOWN; THINGS RE­TURN TO NOR­MAL

What is hap­pen­ing in Lebanon is very much a rep­e­ti­tion of a fa­mil­iar cy­cle: clashes erupt; the mil­i­tary tries, hap­haz­ardly, to res­tore or­der; the fight­ing calms down; things re­turn to nor­mal without any of the un­der­ly­ing causes hav­ing been ad­dressed. The dif­fer­ence today is that Lebanon’s other half, Syria, is in a quite lit­eral state of ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis. For half a decade Da­m­as­cus was ruled by a harsh and cal­cu­lated sense of prag­ma­tism -today, noth­ing about its fu­ture is cer­tain. The Le­banese, all too well aware that their des­tiny is tied to that of their Syr­ian broth­ers and sis­ters, have ev­ery rea­son to feel con­cern about what comes next. But such anx­i­ety is noth­ing new. Today is not the first time Le­banese so­ci­ety has seemed ir­re­versibly split, or that the re­gion has been at boil­ing point. Many past in­ci­dents could have led to the flare up of a new civil war, but did not.

Since shap­ing the ac­tions of out­side pow­ers is be­yond what Lebanon can do, a sen­si­ble plan of ac­tion would be to fo­cus on re­build­ing it­self; to strengthen state in­sti­tu­tions, pro­vide cit­i­zens with equal rights, fos­ter an in­clu­sive po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and ad­dress so­cial in­jus­tices. The deadly street bat­tles did not take place in Beirut’s wealthy neigh­bor­hoods -most of them took place in what is be­ing called “Lebanon’s for­got­ten city.” In a sit­u­a­tion when sec­tar­ian af­fil­i­a­tions are open for ex­ploita­tion -- and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are ready to take ad­van­tage of that -- frus­tra­tion and de­pri­va­tion eas­ily turn ex­plo­sive. As for Syria, the only thing there seems to be a con­sen­sus on is the un­cer­tainty of the sit­u­a­tion. “I see many sce­nar­ios for Syria’s fu­ture, but all of them bad,” con­cludes Haid. “It’s emo­tion­ally hard to get used to the idea of set­tling with a bad sce­nario be­cause it’s bet­ter than the re­ally bad one. But Syr­i­ans are start­ing to un­der­stand that this is prob­a­bly the case.”

PHOTO: REUTERS, MO­HAMED AZAKIR

Le­banese Sunni Mus­lim women throw rose petals on an am­bu­lance car­ry­ing the body of Sheikh Ahmed Ab­dul Wahid, a Sunni Mus­lim cleric shot dead by Le­banese soldiers. May 21, 2012

PHOTO: REUTERS, JA­MAL SAIDI

Le­banese Mus­lims and Chris­tian cler­ics at an anti-war protest in Beirut or­ga­nized by ac­tivists and for­mer mili­ti­a­men who were fight­ers dur­ing Lebanon’s civil war (19751990). May 31, 2012

PHOTO: REUTERS, MO­HAMED AZAKIR

The civil war in Lebanon left the city of Beirut dev­as­tated.

July 14, 2002

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