News / Middle East

Lebanon's Militant Sunni Sheiks Support Uprising

Lebanese army soldiers sit on top of a military truck as reinforcements arrive to the outskirts of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug. 4, 2014.
Lebanese army soldiers sit on top of a military truck as reinforcements arrive to the outskirts of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug. 4, 2014.

Clashes are becoming more frequent between the Lebanese army and Syrian insurgents - including jihadists - along the Lebanon-Syria border.

This past weekend, Syrian rebels attacked the border town of Arsal, killing 11 Lebanese soldiers the fighting. Forty rebels also were killed.

Despite the risk that the fighting will drag Lebanon fully into the mayhem of Syria's sectarian civil war, the country's militant Sunni sheikhs said they sympathize with jihadists in Iraq and Syria, including those fighting with al-Qaida-affilated groups.

Sheikh Mohammed Gamil Nizah is a leading Sunni cleric in Lebanon's northern town of Tripoli, where local Sunnis have clashed frequently with the army and Shi'ite Muslims.

Arsal, LebanonArsal, Lebanon
x
Arsal, Lebanon
Arsal, Lebanon

He said because of repression by the Shi'ite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the tyranny of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the Sunnis in those countries decided to rise up.

He warned the same will happen soon in Lebanon.

Fears arrest

The sheikh, a 46-year-old father of six, said he is nervous he is going to be arrested by Lebanese authorities for his outspokenness.

During the interview with VOA, his supporters glanced at a bank of closed-circuit television screens broadcasting images from outside his mosque, alert for a security raid.

Last month, another prominent Salafist cleric was arrested in Tripoli.

Lebanese security officials claim there are growing links between Sunni agitators and foreign jihadists, who have been behind more than a dozen suicide bombs on Shi'ite strongholds in Lebanon in the past year.

Asked whether he supports jihadist groups such as al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra or the breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, which has been leading the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the sheikh chooses his words carefully.

He said he disagrees with some of the extreme behavior of the jihadists but that Sunnis in Tripoli support the Islamic revolutions in Syria and Iraq, arguing they have managed to break the Shi'ite crescent across the Mideast.

Battling rebels

Lebanese security forces are working to contain violent sectarianism in Lebanon. And for weeks have been combating an estimated 3,000 Syrian rebels holed up along remote parts of the border near the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal.

After the fierce weekend fighting in which 15 Lebanese soldiers were taken hostage, security officials said they are determined to win the battle in the next 48 hours. However, they insist they are not working in cooperation with Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shia movement whose fighters are battling Syrian rebels on the other side of the border.

On Tripoli's main shopping streets there is skepticism that the army and Hezbollah are not working together. Locals blame the domineering behavior of Hezbollah for much of the growing anger of Sunnis.

Azzam, a storeowner, said people are angry that the army arrests Sunni militants but does nothing against Hezbollah. There is no balance and Sunnis are being discriminated against, he said.

The army said it won't be deterred by threats of revolution.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hawas from: Lebanon
August 04, 2014 12:49 PM
hey VOA, "Lebanese security forces are working to contain violent sectarianism in Lebanon..." - who writes this drivel for you..??

Listen VOA, Lebanese "security forces" are Hezbullah..!!! Hezbullah is an Iranian terrorist organization that consumed Lebanon from within like cancer !! they murder torture and rape us - Christians, Sunnis, Druz,
In Response

by: Derkanu from: islamabad
August 05, 2014 12:16 AM
Hizabullah a patraitic militia is a resisting wall against terrorists like israel and rest of the Takferi groups around them. what is the objection when US the world class terrorist is supporting the illegtimate state of zionisim in Israel. Does any one including yourself have courage to point out her support for the killer of innocent peopl on mass scale in Palestine. Shame on you all and curse of Almighty God till day after.

by: Hans from: Germany
August 04, 2014 12:36 PM
Look, Israel is a superlative military cutting edge technology machine... nobody denies or doubt this. Israel can destroy all the metastatic Islamic disease... al qaida, hizbula, nusra, pusra, tusra... but Lebanon can not... nor can Turkey (the prime instigator of the Islamic filth) nor can Qatar (another scumbag nation) nor Syria... nor Iraq... nor Saudi... nor Jordan... look at the Iranians - they are terrified...!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More