World View: Lebanon Faces New Chaos After Beirut Car Bombing

World View: Lebanon Faces New Chaos After Beirut Car Bombing

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Lebanon faces new chaos after car bombing in heart of Beirut
  • The spectacular fall of North Korea’s number two leader

Lebanon faces new chaos after car bombing in heart of Beirut

Car bombing in Beirut on Friday (Daily Star)
Car bombing in Beirut on Friday (Daily Star)

Lebanese people were sent shivering again on Friday when a massive carbomb exploded in the heart of downtown Beirut, killing six people,including Mohammad Shatah, a leading moderate Sunni leader inLebanon’s government, and injuring at least 70. Shatah wasextremely critical of government in Syria and of Hezbollah,and it is believed that one of those two perpetrated the bombing.

The death of Shatah is thought to mark the end of Sunni moderation.There have been several tit-for-tat bombings in Lebanon, sometargeting assets of the Shia terrorist organization Hezbollah, and theothers targeting assets of Future Movement, the leading Sunniorganization, led by Saad Hariri, whose own father was killed in 2005.(See “Massive Beirut explosion killing Rafiq Hariri puts Lebanon into state of shock” from2005.) Possibly by coincidence, or possibly not, the United Nationsis just about to begin an investigation into the 2005 bombing, which isexpected to show that the assassination was carried out by Syria andHezbollah. Saad Hariri and Mohammad Shatah were Sunni advocatesof moderation, but the violent death on Friday of Shatah mayend this moderation and lead to open conflict between the Sunniand Shia factions in Lebanon. 

The Syria conflict began in 2011, starting with peacefulanti-government protesters. Then Syria’s genocidal monsterShia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad ordered his army to startshooting innocent protesters, bombing and flattening neighborhoodswhere innocent people were living, launching missiles into children’sdormitories and bedrooms, raping, torturing, mutilating, and massacringinnocent women and children on a large scale, particularly targetingSunnis.

This war quickly began to spill over into Lebanon, but it was mostlyconfined to the city of Tripoli in north Lebanon, on the border withSyria, where Sunni and Shia neighborhoods held frequent gunfights witheach other.

However, Lebanon’s chaos started to get dramatically intense on April 30, whenHezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallad gave a televised speechcommitting Hezbollah’s soldiers to enter Syria and fight on the sideof al-Assad’s army (See “27-Sep-13 World View — How Hezbollah’s reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast“) 

Since that time, the sectarian fighting has come closer and closer toBeirut, and in a couple of months has particularly targeted therespected heartlands of the Sunni and Shia political organizations indowntown Beirut. Daily Star (Beirut) and LA Times

The spectacular fall of North Korea’s number two leader

The recent spectacular North Korean saga, where the child dictator KimJong-un very publicly accused Jang Song-thaek, his uncle and thecountry’s number two leader, of sabotaging the regime and thenexecuting him, has left many outsiders guessing how this could havehappened. According to an Indian analysis, there are several reasons:

  • Jang Song-thaek was driving a government reorganization that would put the military under party control, after the Chinese model. The military elites looked for an opportunity to sabotage him, and they succeeded.
  • Kim Jong-un was the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, and not ready to assume power. When Jong-il became ill in 2008, he worked with Jang to prepare the way for a smooth succession for Jong-un, and that was successful. However, it was always pretty clear that Jang never held Kim Jong-un in very high esteem, causing the latter to feel overshadowed by Jang.
  • Jang’s career in government goes back to 1972, when he married Kim Jong-il’s sister. Jang held a variety of government positions, and was more widely respected throughout the government than Kim Jong-un. He instituted a number of economic reforms, many of which were opposed by the military.
  • It has also been reported that Jang Song-thaek has some unspecified connection to Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, and it was not a comfortable fact for Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un needs a core group of supporters in the North Koreanelites, as his father and grandfather had, who will be loyal under allcircumstances. Jang enjoyed a wide network of North Korean elites,and many of Jang’s associates have been executed as well. WithoutJang, there is no core group to support Kim Jong-un, leaving the childdictator vulnerable to a coup or, at the very least, unable to dealwith the contest between the political and military elites of thecountry. Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS – India)

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