Car bomb rips through Hezbollah neighborhood in Lebanon, deepening fears of regional Sunni-Shiite war

 

  • Car bomb rips through Hezbollah neighborhood in Lebanon, deepening fears of regional Sunni-Shiite war
  • Islamists infiltrating Egypt from Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to clash with army, launch terror attacks
  • Egyptian interim government appoints new prime minister, as Muslim Brotherhood rejects political roadmap
  • Warnings of humanitarian catastrophe as Syrian army moves to seize control of strategic city of Homs

 

What we’re watching today:

 

  • A car bomb that ripped through a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut on Tuesday injured dozens of people, heightening tensions between Lebanon's Sunni and Shiite sects and deepening concerns that the sectarian conflict in Syria, between the region's Sunni and Shiite powers, will escalate into a full-blown regional war. Sunni rebels had vowed to strike Hezbollah areas in Lebanon in retaliation for the Iran-backed terror group's activities on behalf of Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime, and last month a Lebanese Sunni cleric had threatened to take "military" action against the Shiite group. The Jerusalem Post reported that "shocked and angry residents were quick to blame Sunni militants." Tuesday’s bombing is the second attack on the Shiite area of Beirut in as many months, with rockets striking the neighborhoods in late May. Analysts are increasingly pessimistic that regional sectarian tensions can be dampened, and are instead predicting that "there is a good chance that there will be more than 10,000 foreign fighters on either side of the Syrian war within a year or two."

 

  • Dozens of terrorists linked to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups have entered the Sinai Peninsula from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with the intention of clashing with the Egyptian army. The infiltrations come in the aftermath of the Egyptian military ousting the country's Brotherhood-linked former President Mohammed Morsi, which in turn occurred after anti-government Egyptian activists poured into the streets in the largest national protests in the history of humanity. On Sunday, the Egyptian army arrested 14 jihadists in the increasingly unstable territory who were reportedly planning to carry out attacks against Egyptian troops. The deepening crisis comes amid news that Islamist terrorists are seeking to target Arab-Israelis vacationing in the Sinai in order to damage Egypt's tourism industry. Tourism is arguably Egypt's key cash industry, and has largely collapsed in the aftermath of the chaos sown by the 2011 Egyptian revolution and subsequent electoral empowerment of the Brotherhood.

 

  • Former Egyptian Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has been named Egypt’s prime minister, as the country's military moved to stabilize political chaos that began weeks ago when millions of anti-government protesters flooded into the streets demanding the ouster of the country's Muslim Brotherhood-linked then-President Mohammed Morsi. Beblawi had criticized Morsi's Islamist administration last month, blasting the group for failing to restore political legitimacy to the government and economic stability to the country. For their part, Brotherhood officials rejected a plan announced by the interim government aimed at putting Egypt on a fast track to amending the country’s controversial constitution, which had been hastily rushed through the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly last year. The constitution was widely criticized for its heavy emphasis on Islamic law at the expense of religious and gender minorities.

 

  • Syrian government troops continued their assault on Homs this week, threatening to fully wrest control of the strategic city from rebels who have used it to threaten the regime's supply lines between Syria's capital, Damascus, and the Mediterranean Sea. Homs has been considered "the capital of the revolution," and its loss by the opposition would be the second critical victory for the Syrian regime after Hezbollah-backed Syrian forces seized the city of Qusayr last month. Meanwhile, United Nations officials slammed the offensive and deplored the lack of basic necessities in Homs. It is estimated that between 2,500 and 4,000 civilians are trapped in the fighting in and around the city, and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse today that the wounded are dying due to lack of medical equipment.


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