Nasrallah Calls for “Calm” After Syrians Kidnapped Lebanese
Syrian opposition members reportedly kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi’ites in the northern province of Aleppo as they returned home from a pilgrimage. The kidnapping occurred one the heels of violent spillover from Syria into Lebanon which has sparked sectarian and political rivalries in Lebanon. The leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah called for calm after Lebanese took the streets in Beirut protesting against the kidnappings, saying ”any act of violence or individual action will not help this case at all.” Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, Simon Haddad, expressed concern: “The pace of destabilizing Lebanon is accelerating as was seen in the recent security incidents. Lebanon faces a serious threat of a drift toward sectarian violence unless(Prime Minister Najib) Mikati, (former Prime Minister Saad) Hariri and other political leaders cooperate to ease the tension.”
The Lebanses authorities released the Sunni cleric Shadi al-Moulawi who was arrested on May 12 on charges of “aiding a terrorist organisation.” Moulawi is a outspoken critic of Bashar al-Assad‘s regime. His arrest was followed by violence in northern city of Tripoli.
Additionally, Aaron Y. Zelin explores a Jihadi group, the Jabhat al-Nusrah (“The Victory Front” or JN), whose attack on a military intelligence branch in Damascus killed 55 and wounded hundreds more. The group has quickly attracted attention, receiving the support of other jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and by undermining the Free Syria Army. According to Zelin the JN’s “main goals are to awaken Muslims to the atrocities of the Assad regime, and eventually take control of the state and implement its narrow and puritanical interpretation of Islamic law.” Martin Chulov reports about former soldier Mohammed Rahman Sohail‘s defection from the Syrian military to the Free Syria Army, telling of the violent methods of the Bashar army uses to crush the rebellion. He witnessed the death of 83 during a massacre in Jebel al-Zawiya last December.