Lebanon in the Mouth of the Dragon: Why Aren’t the Salafis Fighting?

Ekhlaas member al-Sarim al-Shami (“the Stern Shami”) asks: Why aren’t the armed Salafi groups entering the fight in Lebanon? He is particularly critical of their religious leaders, who are sitting on their hands. Sarim acknowledges, as I wrote a few days ago, that some Ekhlaas members endorse this tactical neutrality in order to prepare for a larger battle against the state. But he retorts that there is no better time than now to begin “the holy war” (al-harb al-muqadassa) against the infidel foreign powers that are trying to shape the destiny of Lebanon. These powers know that conflict in Lebanon will only benefit “the sons of al-Qaeda,” so they are pushing their proxies to negotiate. They realize that if there is not a peaceful settlement, Lebanon “will become a second Iraq and (turn into) the Islamic State of Lebanon.”

Another Ekhlaas member, abu_3ubayda, disagrees. Armed Salafi groups should not enter the fray because it is merely a political dispute between al-Mustaqbal, Hezbollah, and Amal. It is not a battle to raise the banner of Islam. Moreover, the war is not caused by Sunnism or Shi’ism; if that were the case, then the situation would be different and there would be no way for the warring factions to reconcile because pious people on both sides would not agree to it.

Another member, Abu Suhayb al-Shami, agrees with Sarim for the most part, but does not think it is appropriate to criticize the Salafi religious scholars for not acting. No matter the near-term resolution to the crisis, he argues, Sunnis are now more receptive to al-Qaeda in Lebanon because of what happened (i.e. they will want AQ to defend them against Hezbollah).

Document (Arabic): 5-15-08-jihadis-debate-should-sunnis-fight-in-lebanon

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One Response

  1. I think the reason the radical Salafis are not doing anything, is because they are scared. It seems that most of the radical Salafi groups are concentrated in Palestinian refugee camps. They all saw what the army did to Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared and they do not want a repeat. It also appears that there is popular opposition in the Palestinian camps to the radical Salafis doing anything that would cause another Nahr al-Bared.

    I also suspect that if the radical Salafis started a terrorist campaign the Lebanese would rally behind the army again, which would be another blow to the radical Salafists. It is also possible that both the March 14th allies and the March 8th allies would support the army in an operation against any radical Salafist group leaving the radical Salafis with few allies or room to maneuver.

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