Lebanon's Clumsy Angry Sunni
One of lebanon’s largest sects is becoming its own worst enemy.
Lebanon’s Sunnis want you to know that they’re angry. Very angry. If a reporter approaches a tire burner today and asks him why he’s angry, she will probably hear these reasons:
- Throughout Lebanon’s history, Lebanon’s popular Sunni leaders from Mufti Hassan Khaled to PM Rafik Hariri were harassed and assassinated because the Alawi regime in Syria feels threatened by powerful Sunnis and their potential effect on Syria’s own Sunnis
- Recently, the most popular Lebanese Sunni leader was pushed out of power and out of the country by Syria’s allies. That happened because Hezbollah (the Shiaas) threatened to use their military advantage (the black shirts incident)
- Lebanese security forces are quietly taking the side of the Syrian regime by arresting and killing Lebanese Sunnis who are supporting the Syrian revolution
- The Sunnis are constantly been smeared as terrorists to justify the heavy handedness with which the government is dealing with them
You can dispute the accuracy of the points above, but there is no doubt in my mind that the angry Sunnis who are burning tires believe every single one of them. I also have no doubt that many of Lebanon’s “normal” Sunnis are sympathetic to their logic (but not to their extreme acts of protest)
A murder in Akkar, and its consequences.
The murder on Sunday of Shaikh Ahmad Abdul Wahid, an outspoken supporter of the Syrian revolution, at a Lebanese army checkpoint was a humiliation too far. It triggered the same pandemonium that took place when PM Saad Hariri was ejected from power: Wherever there are Sunnis in Lebanon, people took to the streets, burned tires, blocked roads and let everyone know that they’re pissed.
But their protests, even if cathartic, are creating three big headaches for their community:
- They are angering the rest of the Lebanese by inconveniencing them and reminding them of the war. Sunnis are coming across as irresponsible and dangerous.
- They are not achieving anything. Even if the point was to establish deterrence (to make others think twice before upsetting the Sunnis), it’s not working. It’s just a loud and costly tantrum.
- They are establishing a reputation that the Sunnis are an excitable bunch that can easily be provoked.
The angry Sunnis are playing right into the hands of those who want to create instability in the country to turn the attention away from Syria. Their anger is being wasted on pointless tantrums and they’re displaying an alarming lack of cool-headedness and long-term strategic planning. If they really care about their future as a sect (whether that is a worthwhile aspiration deserves a post of its own), they need to grow some skin, stop burning stuff and start thinking.