Lebanese fears about Syrian Conflict Spilling Over Border

              2013-05-28 Vatican Radio

Father Samir says many people in Lebanon are “worried” about the Syrian conflict spreading across the border and one of the reasons, he says, is because the war has sharpened the divisions and rivalry between the two main branches of Islam, the Shiites and the Sunnis. Given the frequent clashes in the Tripoli area of northern Lebanon which adjoins the Syrian border, many Lebanese, he says,  are “wondering what will happen” (next).   Around a million Syrians are estimated to have fled to Lebanon to escape the war in their homeland and according to Father Samir, the Lebanese people feel “they are not capable” of coping with such a huge influx in  small country like theirs with a population of only three and a half million.  Father Samir says that in his view “the real problem” facing the Middle East “is the radicalization of Islam” which is causing a “more contrasted and conflictual situation”  between different faith groups.   This radicalization, he continues, “has its source” in the West’s attitude towards Israel and its de facto condoning of the Jewish state’s “illegal occupation”  of neighbouring territories. Father Samir says Moslems “see this as an aggression towards Islam”  and this, in turn, triggers a radicalization of a small minority of them. When asked about his reaction to the EU’s decision not to renew its embargo on supplying arms to the Syrian opposition, Father Samir says this is the wrong way to deal with Syria’s conflict.  “There is no solution through the war, through (the supply of) weapons.”