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Lebanon is not about to fall back into the abyss

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

Friday’s suicide attack came as no surprise to security experts. In fact, the car bomb that went off at a checkpoint in Dahr al-Baidar on the main Beirut-Damascus highway, killing an ISF member and wounding 32 people, was expected.

Among experts who have been monitoring the current regional turmoil, most were bracing themselves for something that would damage the understanding between the various Lebanese political parties that earlier this year resulted in the formation of a government after months without one.

Lebanon is currently experiencing the calm before the storm, and this year’s events seem likely to prove that the country cannot dodge threats from regional terrorist organizations.

Western security forces, especially Americans, see the Syrian crisis as a serious threat to the region, especially given that it has instigated religious rifts among the region’s Sunnis and Shiites.

The deteriorating situation has also been exacerbated by the huge influx of Syrian refugees to neighboring countries, posing a further threat to regional stability.

For some observers, Israel is the primary beneficiary of everything that’s happened. Prior to Friday’s suicide bomb, Mossad – Israel’s secret service – released a document detailing plans by Al-Qaeda-affiliated group the Abdullah Azzam Brigades to “most likely” assassinate the director general of General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.

By leaking this report, sources explain, Israel has managed to dash Lebanon’s hopes of a fruitful tourism season, something the Lebanese were relying on to revive the country’s troubled economy.

However, with the exception of Friday’s attack, the last month has gone according to plan, with sources explaining that a proactive plan has seen security forces arresting major terrorist suspects and fundamentalist groups.

Although forces weren’t able to prevent Friday’s attack, sources do believe that authorities deserve to be praised. Security forces have seen a remarkable success in maintaining peace and stability by detecting groups whose aim is to destabilize the country.

For instance, Friday’s raids of two hotels in Hamra by security forces saw 17 men arrested for suspicion of involvement in a plot to assassinate Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

The same thing goes for Lebanon’s intelligence apparatus. Despite its limited financial and material capabilities, it has been on high alert, and this has pushed some Western countries to consider strengthening the agencies that have proved to be vital for the country’s national security.

Investigations of terrorism networks has led to collaborations between the Lebanese security forces and Arab and Western ones, a coordination that helps to combat imminent dangers posed by terrorist groups.

In essence, sources said Dahr al-Baidar’s attack didn’t indicate that the security situation in Lebanon would return to the way it was before Prime Minister Tammam Salam formed his government. Instead, security will continue to be controlled, especially given the cooperation between security forces and the judiciary system.

However, one source emphasized, this should motivate the various factions to work on resolving their political issues. Everything begins with electing a consensus president, reactivating the country’s intuitions and reviving the Baabda Declaration, which calls for insulating Lebanon from the turmoil in the region, the source said, all of which are essential for Lebanon’s stability.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 23, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

Friday's suicide attack came as no surprise to security experts.

Lebanon is currently experiencing the calm before the storm, and this year's events seem likely to prove that the country cannot dodge threats from regional terrorist organizations.

However, with the exception of Friday's attack, the last month has gone according to plan, with sources explaining that a proactive plan has seen security forces arresting major terrorist suspects and fundamentalist groups.

Everything begins with electing a consensus president, reactivating the country's intuitions and reviving the Baabda Declaration, which calls for insulating Lebanon from the turmoil in the region, the source said, all of which are essential for Lebanon's stability.


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