The abduction of 11 Lebanese Shiites in Syria on Tuesday is the latest in a series of incidents that have threatened to ignite sectarian tensions in Lebanon, leading many observers to worry that the conflict in neighboring Syria might spill over across the border. The kidnapping, which took place in northern Syria as the men returned from a religious pilgrimage, follows outbreaks of sectarian and factional violence in Tripoli and Beirut.
Two experts told Trend Lines that in order to understand the impact the incidents might have in Lebanon, one must understand the complex political and sectarian ties between the two countries.
Bassam Haddad, director of Middle East Studies at George Mason University, portrayed Syria as a long-time guarantor of stability for Lebanon. “When Syria begins to fall apart,” he said, “one can only expect a breakdown of law and order in Lebanon because of a ripple effect.”