"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Thursday, April 04, 2024

Brothers in arms: the renewal of Shia-Sunni resistance against Israel - The Cradle

 Recently, Jama’a al-Islamiyya (JI or the ‘Islamic Group’) – a Lebanese party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood – has made a notable resurgence on the political and military scene. This comeback was marked by the active involvement of its armed wing, the Fajr Forces, established in 1982, in recent confrontations along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

The clashes led to the loss of 3 group members, who fell victim to Israeli forces in the southern Lebanese village of Al-Habbariyeh on 10 March.

The Islamic Group, rooted in Lebanon since 1964, commands significant influence within the Lebanese Sunni community. It boasts a network of supporters that spans various regions, including Beirut, the Bekaa, Sidon, Tripoli, and Al-Arqoub. 

Chafik Choucair, a researcher at the Al-Jazeera Center for Studies, argues that the group holds considerable sway in Lebanon, given that “it ranks second after the Future Movement” of Saad Hariri. However, it lacks a proportional parliamentary representation. “In the current parliament, for example, it has only one representative, Imad al-Hout,” he explains.

‘Cooperation with Hezbollah’

The revival of the Islamic Group’s resistance operations has stirred unease among many in the Lebanese Sunni community, particularly those aligned with US-allied Arab states that view the Muslim Brotherhood with skepticism, as well as secular segments of this community.

So when JI’s Secretary-General Sheikh Muhammad Takkoush told AP on 29 March that military cooperation with Hezbollah was vital in the fight against Israel on the southern border, Sunni Lebanon sat up and took notice.

“Part of (the JI’s attacks against Israeli forces) were in coordination with Hamas, which coordinates with Hezbollah,” Takkoush revealed about his groups’ military operations, adding that JI’s direct cooperation with Hezbollah “is on the rise and this is being reflected in the field.” 

Hezbollah is designated as a “terrorist organization” in many Persian Gulf Arab states that have long served as Lebanon’s most critical financial patrons, particularly for the country’s Sunni political parties.

As recently as February 2024, Saad Hariri, head of the Future Movement, said, “If I sense that Lebanon’s Sunnis are leaning toward extremism, then I will intervene.” Many, however, understood this to represent a green light from Persian Gulf states for the former prime minister – who withdrew from politics in 2022 – to return to his leading role in Lebanese politics if other Sunni movements, including the Islamic Group, began to gain too much support from the country’s Sunni public.