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The peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins that began December 1 and quickly escalated into violent clashes between pro- and anti-government groups continue to fuel the flames of yet another potential civil war in Lebanon.
Backed by Syria and Iran, the Shia group Hezbollah, along with several other parties, opposes the current Lebanese government, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. His anti-Syrian government was formed after Syria reluctantly withdrew from the nation two years ago.
In the aftermath of last summer’s war in Lebanon, Hezbollah declared victory after Israel failed to halt incoming rocket and mortar attacks, eliminate Hezbollah’s leadership and rescue its two captured soldiers. Emboldened by this and Beirut’s failure to effectively combat Israeli forces, Hezbollah seeks to create a national unity government, demanding more than a third of the Cabinet seats. This would give the pro-Syrian terrorist organization veto power and the ability to collapse the current government. Syria would then again have strong influence over Lebanese affairs.
The governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have voiced their support for the Siniora administration, which has the support of the United States and France.
With Washington viewing Lebanon as yet another battlefield in the war on terror, many see the current struggle as a global standoff between the U.S. and Iran, along with Syria. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that the international community might witness three civil wars this year: one in Iraq, another in the Palestinian territories, and one in Lebanon.