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Lebanon braces for US strike on Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A boy stands as Sunni Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Taqwa mosque, one of two mosques hit by explosions last Friday, in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, August 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim)

A boy stands as Sunni Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Taqwa mosque, one of two mosques hit by explosions last Friday in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, on August 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Still traumatized by the recent explosions that hit Beirut and Tripoli, the Lebanese seem to be obsessed with talk about what impact the Western military strike could have on the political and security situation in their country.

In addition, the growing influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has been a source of public worry.

All political parties in Lebanon, whether pro- or anti-Assad, are awaiting the potential Western-backed military strike on Syria. Some seem to think that its impact depends on factors including the scale and duration of the strike, as well as the reactions it triggers from the regime and its allies, particularly Hezbollah.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Future Movement MP Ahmed Fatfat claimed that the military strike will definitely have an impact on Lebanon.

“Without doubt, the initial impact [of the strike] will be reflected in an influx of refugees, and that will place social and economic pressure on Lebanon,” he said.

According to Fatfat, “If the strike is used to threaten [the regime], as Assad supporters try to claim, it will definitely have negative results on Lebanon.”

“If it succeeds in changing the political equation in Syria by pressuring the regime to offer compromises . . . it will have positive results on the politics and security of Lebanon,” he continued.

Regarding reports of Hezbollah being put on full alert at the Lebanese borders, the Lebanese MP played down the possibility of the Shi’ite militia going to war for the time being.

“If the strike is strong, which is unlikely, it is possible that Hezbollah will take the decision to fight alongside its ally,” Fatfat said.

For his part, the Lebanese strategist Talal Atrissi maintained that a strike against Syria, be it powerful or not, will have an impact on Lebanon due to the strong ties between the two countries on all levels.

“The impact [on Lebanon] will depend on the size and type of the strike and thus the reactions it triggers from the regime and its allies,” Atrissi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

When asked whether the regime is expected to react, Atrissi claimed that if the strike targeted “key locations affecting the structure of the regime, [Assad] will likely respond by targeting Israeli or US bases” in the region.

On the other hand, Al-Wafaa Bloc MP Walid Sukarieh maintained that any military strike against Syria will not affect Lebanon.

Although Sukarieh believes that “Hezbollah does not intend to wage a war against Israel,” Atrissi claimed that “the quickening developments in Syria and the size of the US strike will lead to consequences, especially if Syria decides to shell Israel. Then Lebanon will not be spared the confrontation.”