Opinion and Editorial

Crisis in Lebanon could lead to Daesh revival

Christiane Waked
Filed on November 26, 2019 | Last updated on November 26, 2019 at 07.13 pm

While Turkey claims the military intervention in Syria is to eradicate terrorism, the truth is the military operation is anything but that.

On October 9, Turkey launched a military offensive in northeast Syria: The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army against the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Army.  The target were the Kurds, who had mobilised their forces to resist the Turks. But the attacks forced them to abandon the camps and leave the custody of Daesh prisoners to whoever cared to guard them.

While Turkey claims the military intervention in Syria is to eradicate terrorism, the truth is the military operation is anything but that. It is an act of aggression against a sovereign state and violates the international law. Besides, it also gives a new opportunity for Daesh to reorganise and come back in force in Syria, a region that offers a fertile ground for its rise due to lack of stability and political ambiguity in the country.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Oleg Syromolotov, recently told the Russian Agency of International Information RIA Novosti that Russia is really concerned about the escape of hundreds of Daesh terrorists from prisons following the Turkish operation in Syria. It raises the spectre of the rise of Daesh again in the region.

The ethnic cleansing of the Kurds and Christian minorities in order to create a buffer zone has allowed Turkey to create a perfect atmosphere for extremists to move back in the Anbar desert, and also occupy pockets stretching between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

It does not mean that Daesh can create a caliphate like before again but it sure can continue to terrorise the world through targeted attacks and create a security challenge for the Syrian government.

The conditions that led to the creation and the expansion of Daesh still exist and the danger can spread to nearby countries such as Lebanon which has been on the boil for weeks now. Since October 17, mass protests have been taking place across the country. What triggered these protests was the announcement of a new tax. The economy is in dire straits, and there's no political will or foresight to introduce reforms that can change the course for the country. Frustration levels are rising among the people in Lebanon. There are not enough jobs, inflation has shot through the roof, and pessimism pervades the atmosphere. The youth is vulnerable and such conditions offer a fertile ground to extremists organisations like Daesh, who might find it easy to take new recruits.

The recent decision of the White House to withhold security assistance of more than $100 million to Lebanon to isolate Hezbollah didn't affected the group. On the contrary, it punished the whole country and put its security at stake.

Both Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Ted Deutch, head of its Middle East subcommittee, have warned about the imminent threats that the Lebanese security forces face from a resurgent Daesh, Al Qaeda, and its affiliates as well as an increasingly strong Hezbollah.

They advised the US to help Lebanon. After all, a more capable Lebanese Armed Forces will work in the best interests of both Lebanon and the US.

The international community must realise that the worsening of the security situation in both Syria and Lebanon will bring a new massive wave of refugees in the western countries.

With a population of about four million, Lebanon hosts the greatest concentration of refugees per capita in the world (more than 40 per cent of the demographic mass of Lebanon). This has created an overwhelming pressure on the country's utilities and stability. Nearly 2.5 million migrants from Syria, Iraq and Palestine have found refuge in Lebanon.

Since the beginning of the Syrian war, the refugees as well as the Lebanese population have been suffering even as the economy is reeling under the pressure of the ongoing war.

Lebanon would not be able to hold these refugees for longer especially if terrorist attacks are back on its soil.

Christiane Waked is a Political analyst based in Beirut

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