Nine arrests over Lebanon bombings, as politicians seem to unite against terror

Mon 16 Nov 2015

Nine arrests over Lebanon bombings, as politicians seem to unite against terror

On 15 November nine people were arrested in Lebanon over the 12 November double suicide bombings that killed at least 43 people and injured over 240 in the capital of Lebanon Beirut. The bombings, claimed by the Islamic State (IS), targeted Hezbollah strongholds in the southern parts of the city. Hezbollah has experienced earlier attacks by IS and other Sunni terrorist groups in retaliation over support of President Bashar al-Assad’s  in the Syrian war for the past years. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the fight against IS will continue and they will “search for open fronts with Daesh (IS)”.

An extraordinary achievement
The attacks took place in the evening at a Shiite community center and a bakery in the area of Borj al Barajneh, in the Southern part of the city. Initially it was assumed the assailants wanted to attack a nearby Hezbollah-run hospital, but were discouraged by the amount of security measures present. Instead the attackers choose a busy street were a market was held, resulting in the death of mostly woman and children.  A third man wearing explosives was killed before he could detonate them. Days after the attack at least nine people were arrested at a Palestinian refugee camp and a flat in Beirut. Mashnuq said "The whole suicide bombing network and its supporters were arrested in the 48 hours following the explosion", an “extraordinary achievement”.

Strengthening of Hezbollah
In a televised speech Nazrallah said that the attacks were used “to pressure the resistance to withdraw from the battle against the takfiris in Syria”. But he guaranteed that it “will bring the opposite result”. He vowed that "it will increase our determination. We fought ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and other groups on several fronts, and after this we will search for [ISIL] on open fronts and fight them there." Political analyst Kamel Wazne warned the attack “might be, again, the beginning of a circle of violence for Beirut. Military analyst Elias Hanna said Nazrallah was “delivering a message to the world” by “telling the people that Hezbollah is fighting the same enemy”. Furthermore, he said that “this strengthens Hezbollah in the region”, as people are scared of IS gaining grounds in other countries.

Presenting one front
In the wake of the attacks politicians in Lebanon, which has been without a president for 1,5 years and hasn’t held parliamentary elections since 2009, have come together. Political analyst Naha Yahya said the response this time was different as “no one has come out and blamed Hezbollah's participation in Syria. It definitely shows there is more resolve to work together and present one front”.  Prime Minister Tammam Salam said the attacks are “unjustifiable,” and urged people not to give in to “plans to create strife”. Leader of the Sunni party Future Movement Saad al-Hariri, part of Hezbollah’s rival March 14 alliance, said the attacks were “cowardly and unjustified”. Change and Reform party leader Michel Aoun said the attacks are “a crime of despair after defeat”. Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat urged for the “rising above narrow and partisan political disputes in order to immunize the Lebanese arena and prevent a new wave of terrorist bombings.” In the days before the attack parliament met for the first time since may last year and around 40 draft laws were ratified. Naha Yahya said this had been “a political breakthrough”, although it remains unknown if further steps will be taken.