A week later we are still reeling from attacks on our beloved Western bulwark without paying heed to events going on a little farther from home. Beirut, Lebanon is the unspoken tragedy, where 41 people died under the same malicious machinations that struck Paris. Two suicide bombers brought strife back to Lebanon since its civil war in 1990, and ISIS has taken responsibility.
To be clear, the motives behind ISIS’s attack on Lebanon are more directed than simply striking terror into Lebanese hearts. Burj al-Barajneh, the neighborhood that was bombed, is predominantly Shiite and houses Hezbollah forces. One of the bombers detonated an explosive vest outside a Shiite mosque, and the second outside a close bakery.
Hezbollah’s operations in Syria have been directed at resisting Sunni militants, including that of the Islamic State. Hezbollah, though called a terrorist organization by most of the West, maintains a friendly relationship with Russia, who is known as the puppeteer of President (of Syria) Assad’s forces. Iran, another predominantly Shiite state, has pledged its support to Lebanon.
Hezbollah and the West are fighting a common enemy in ISIS. But ultimately Hezbollah’s rhetoric is incompatible with the hopes of the West to establish a dynamic that suppresses the rise of terrorist organizations. Hezbollah backs the dictator Assad that the U.S. has been fighting through opposition groups. A multilateral conflict muddies alliances and complicates international aid. Some even say that the struggles have given ISIS the time and place to rise to power. The root of the problem is not the terrorist organizations themselves but the destabilizing conditions that allow them to rise to power, said Obama in a statement at the G20 Summit this past Monday. “We must address the root of the problem.”
by Allison Huang ’17