Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday:Israel's Neighbors in Devastation: Sunni-Shi'a Battle Involving Hezbollah in Lebanon-Assad of Syria

Nadene Goldfoot                                                              

The neighbors of Israel are having a power war involving the two divisions of Islam, Sunni and Shi'a.  Hezbollah terrorists have openly said that they are fighting with President Assad's forces against his own Syrians who have rebelled against his regime.  President Bashar Assad belongs to the Alawite sect of Islam which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.  The Syrian rebels are Sunnis. Hezbollah terrorism is Shi'ia.  Iran backs Shi'a and Russia backs them as well.  Syria is the 17th largest Muslim majority country in the world with over 22 million Sunni and Shi'a mixed Muslim population following the Hanafa or Alevi fiqhs.
Assad, after much precious time has been wasted, has finally said he is allowing UN investigators into Syria to investigate allegations of chemical warfare, at least 4 days after the fact.  All that the inspectors really should do is talk to the "Doctors Without Borders" who have treated within 3 hours about 3,600 patients since the onset on Wednesday morning in their 3 clinics  of which 54 children, 82 women-322 in all have died.  This includes rebel fighters as well.  The doctors had treated these people for breathing problems, dilated pupils, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and blurred vision.  Even some of the medics had the symptoms of which 1 has died.  What was the cause?  The doctors say it is a neurotoxic agent.  The 3 centers who reported these findings were medical centers near the site of the suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Syria's government is in denial about using these chemicals, but TV news over NBC has statements saying that Assad has reacted violently because of an attempted attack on him.  He is saying that his soldiers had found chemical supplies in places that had been taken by rebel forces.  Russia, Syria's backer,  thinks the rebels used chemicals and others think that Assad's enemies have the supplies or the ability to get them. Even some US officials  feel that Assad's forces had used chemical weapons on a small scale many times already in this past year.  It's said that the US is still trying to gather information to find out just what had happened.

This power war has spread into Lebanon where in Tripoli, a Sunni city, 2 mosques, Taqwa and Salam,  were attacked on Friday at noon.  This is looked at as a revenge attack between Sunni and Shi'a..  The results are that more than 500 were injured of which 300 are still in hospital, 65 in critical care. 47 or more have died from the double bombing.

The scene was devastating with bodies scattered beside burning cars, smoking vehicles with charred people trapped inside, bloodied injured coming out of thick black smoke and people all shouting and screaming while rushing the victims away towards waiting help.

The effect on the Lebanese on Israel's northern border, a small state of about 4,196,453 with 60% Muslim population made up of Sunni and Shi'a, who used to have a Christian government that was ousted,  has caused civilians to arm themselves and set up checkpoints by Saturday near the mosques hit while their security forces patrolled the streets.  Recently, there have also been small-scale clashes like Iraq-style car bombings.  One occurred over a week ago in the Shiite district south of Beirut which is controlled by Hezbollah and killed 27 people.

The USA said Saturday that US intelligence agencies are trying to gather facts to decide what happened in Syria.  Their navy is prepared to act with destroyers carrying long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles the likes of which were also used in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

In the meantime, Tunisians demonstrated on Saturday calling for the resignation of their Islamist-led government.  They called out,"We tried you, you failed, now leave,"  This is a first in their "week of departure" for the government.  Tunisia, with a population of about 10,383,577 of which 98% are Sunni Muslims, has an educated middle-class population and is thought to have the best chance of becoming a working democracy-especially since Egypt has turned the tables on their Muslim Brotherhood president.

As for the over 91 million of Egypt, the military government has had to shorten their imposed night-time curfew to bring about stability from all their unrest at reacting to the ousting of the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi, as their president elected.  Their Arab Spring was short-lived, overcome by the storm brought in by Morsi.  Fridays would maintain the length of the curfew, though.  Having such a curfew is hard on shoppers and hurts Cairo's bustling night life and revenue for the businesses, hotels and restaurants.  Cairo alone has 18 million people.  The military is going after the Brotherhood's top and mid-level opponents and are the ones committing acts of terrorism, shown by the recent attacks on churches and government buildings.  The Muslim Brotherhood had been ousted by Sadat, and only recently came into power by ousting Mubarak in their "Arab Spring." "Arrests and killings appear to have weakened the Brotherhood's ability to mobilize its following." 

And what seems to be the most prevalent problem in the Middle East?  Israel building a few apartment buildings in territory the Palestinians are drooling to take over which also holds Israeli citizens as well; thus the fight over territory; the ancient original  Jewish Israel (Samaria) and Judah and Jerusalem which the Arabs covet.  

Resource:  Oregonian newspaper, 8/25/13 page A7, Signs of chemical attack detailed by Ben Hubbard, NY Times, and Suspect arrested in Lebanon blasts by Ryan Lucas, AP, page A10 Tunisians protest government by Bouazzaa Ben Bouazza, AP, page A10 and Strife, curfew reduced in Egypt by Tony G. Gabriel, AP

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