A car bomb killed at least eight people Friday in Beirut, Lebanon, including Wissam al-Hassan, the country's head of police intelligence and one of the more powerful opponents of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs. Hassan's assassination threatens to further polarize a country where tensions were already running high due to the civil war next door.
Julien Barnes-Dacey, a senior policy fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Trend Lines that while the Syrian conflict is clearly exacerbating divisions within Lebanon, until now, the country has shown a greater degree of resilience to the crisis than most analysts had expected.
"But there is another dynamic at play, which is the dynamic of the Sunni street," he explained. "Sunni groups, ideologically empowered by the Syria crisis, have mobilized in Lebanon with the desire to push back Hezbollah and their dominance, and the assassination will feed that sense of mobilization."