Large explosion in Beirut

BBC: Summary

  • A huge blast in Beirut has killed at least 27 people, Lebanon’s health minister says
  • More than 2,000 others have been injured
  • The cause of the explosion in the city’s port area is not yet known
  • Reports suggest the blast was at a warehouse housing explosives
  • It comes at a sensitive time with the country’s economic crisis reigniting old divisions
  • Tensions are also high ahead of Friday’s verdict in the trial of four suspects for the murder of ex-PM Rafik Hariri

The Middle East mess

This could also be titled the Middle East mess. I observe what goes on there but don’t usually comment on it because it’s such a convoluted mess with little apparent chance of resolving the many conflicts. One article on Huffington Post the Syrian/Middle East situation illustrates how messy it is – Israel Strike Underscores Security Concerns In Syria Beyond ISIS, Upping Stakes For U.S.

An Israeli-linked airstrike in Syria on Sunday is drawing attention to an element of the messy Syrian civil war that the U.S. has tried to downplay: the Obama administration’s failure to check the growing influence of Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, within Syria, as the U.S. and its allies have focused instead on rooting out the Islamic State. Analysts say the strike could force the U.S. focus away from the fight against the Islamic State, fuel retribution against Israel and bolster tensions with Iran — just as the West tries to achieve a deal on that country’s disputed nuclear program.

Without going into further detail this is some of the strands to the mess that the article mentions.

  • Israel airstrike in Syria
  • Israel said to have killed an Iranian general in airstrike
  • Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, within Syria
  • Islamic State in Syria (and Iraq)
  • Israel allied with the US.
  • Iran is the main backer of Syrian President.
  • Iran and Hezbollah continue to threaten Israel.
  • US (and allies) bombing Islamic State –  the group that both the U.S.-led and Iranian coalitions are opposing
  • Washington is loath to condemn the nexus of Iran-supported Shiite power in Syria is because of American interests in Iraq, where Iran and its Shiite militia proxies are influential.
  • The U.S. has also expressed its support for Iranian actions against the Islamic State, and it is keen to avoid antagonizing Iran
  • Lebanon based Hezbollah attacking Israel from areas they control in Syria.
  • Hezbollah fights the Islamic State, al Qaeda and moderate rebels in Syria.
  • Israel is suspected to be making that fight more difficult for Hezbollah, Iran and Assad by providing assistance to the Sunni Arab rebels that the Shiite alliance is fighting.
  • Syrian activists have claimed that Israel has gone as far as coordinating with the Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front.

The US went back into the Middle East to retaliate and neuter al Qaeda. And in the news this morning Islamic State has two Japanese hostages. Who’s fighting who in Syria and the Middle East?