Lebanon Fighting: A Kaleidoscope of Modern Middle East Conflict

Lebanon Fighting: A Kaleidoscope of Modern Middle East Conflict

If you had never looked at the Middle East, you might find it strange that a bank robbery spiraled into a raging battle between Lebanese government forces and a radical Islamic band of fighters based in a Palestinian refugee camp, leaving at least 100 dead and countless injured. The fighting, of course, has very little to do with the robbery that spawned the furious clashes.

The battle between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army offers a look at the deadly kaleidoscope of Middle Eastern conflicts, some of them local on the surface, but all deeply interrelated. Among the many pieces of glass reflecting on each other in this dizzying dance of flames and blood are, among others, internal Palestinian divisions, the Iraq war, Lebanon-Syria tensions, the American presence in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Nations, Saudi-exported ideology, Lebanon's fragile political balance, and other assorted divisions of different shapes, sizes and colors. The fighting in and around Lebanon's Tripoli, not far from the Syrian border, shows just how interrelated all the conflicts afflicting the region are.

At the heart of this conflict, as in every single area of explosive friction in the Middle East, is the determination of Muslim radicals to make Islamic rule the law of the land.

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