The double suicide bombing in Beirut on Wednesday, confirmed as an al Qaeda-linked event, involves the political atmosphere of three countries and two militant parties. The group which took credit for the bombings, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and the attacked group, Hezbollah, have introduced chaos in Lebanon, Iran and Syria.
The Hezbollah, or “party of god,” is a Shi’ite Muslim faction located in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. The militant group formed during the 1979 Iranian revolution which overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty and created the country’s current government, The Islamic Republic of Iran. During that revolution, the group supported opposition leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Who the Hezbollah are is essentially unclear. The group is usually made up of loosely connected and revolutionary Islamic, faith centers. The main goal of the Hezbollah is to rid any supremacy of Eastern or Western culture in the world, and focus all governments and peoples on Shi’ite Islam.
The Hezbollah today is a backer of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. During the three-year civil war in Syria, between Assad and a number of opponent groups, Hezbollah has been providing money, arms and fighters to the current regime. The group is funded by Iran, also an ally of Assad, but are located in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigade is a Sunni Islamic group, connected with al Qaeda and the international jihad movement, or war in the name of Islam. The group claimed the Beirut bombings which have caused upheaval in three countries. The organization takes its name from Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian preacher who joined the jihad movement in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, in the 1980’s.
The most current leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Majid al-Majid, was captured by authorities in Lebanon in December 2013, and allegedly died of kidney failure while still in custody in January 2014.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades said the bombings in Beirut would continue unless two demands were met. The first stipulation requires Lebanon to release the group’s fighters held in its jails. The second requires the Hezbollah to remove all of its fighters from the Syrian Civil War, fighting for Assad.
The international communities which support the Syrian president are clear. However, the supporters of the Syrian opposition are ambiguous and numerous.
The largest opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has had difficulties identifying allies and enemies. The moderate opposition is wary of joining forces with extremist opposition groups. Though the war, which has killed over 140,000 civilians is becoming a burden too big to turn away opposition supporters.
Among those interested in seeing Assad overthrown is al Qaeda and its affiliates, like the Abdullah Azzam Brigade. The Syrian National Coalition fears involving these groups because they could aid the opposition until it is successful, and then use Syria as a base for militant Islamic practices, like jihad.
The bombings in Beirut may be the first of many demonstrations involved across different middle-eastern countries which hope to manipulate the outcome of the Syrian civil war.
By Erin P. Friar