The Lebanese people have a legitimate right to be concerned about the lightning advances of ISIS, carving out their Islamic caliphate in neighboring countries, and it is imperative that the government here takes urgent precautions against this threat, rather than simply react when it is already too late, as is so often the case.
As its name – The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria – implies, its some 10,000-12,000 members seek to include Lebanon in their future land grabs. And the Al-Qaeda splinter group has already made huge inroads in both Syria and Iraq, states in some ways stronger than tiny Lebanon, which has always been susceptible to external flames.
Although the warning bells have been there for some time, not just with ISIS advances in eastern Syria and now across Iraq, but with the presence of extremist Sunni elements in various parts of Lebanon, some emboldened by the Syria conflict, the authorities and security institutions appear to be doing little to counter this threat.
The country is already in a precarious situation, with no president, the Parliament’s mandate in extension, and a government seemingly taking every day as it comes.
What is needed now is not yet more political rhetoric, speeches and theories ad nauseam, but real action on the ground. Efforts to reduce the threat of car bombs in Beirut’s southern suburbs and elsewhere are to be commended, but much more is needed. We cannot wait for the storm to arrive.
The Lebanese are rightly concerned about ISIS, which represents a threat to people’s safety, freedoms and entire way of life. Action must be taken before it is too late.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 18, 2014, on page 7.