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Lebanon's Assir Gone, But Problems Remain

While the Lebanese army has successfully booted Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir from the city of Sidon, the popular divide that allowed for his movement's growth persists.
Sunni Muslim Salafist leader Ahmad al-Assir (2nd L) and other Sheikhs take part in a sit-in in Sidon, southern Lebanon, against the killing on Sunday of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid, a Sunni Muslim cleric, and Muhammed Hussein Miraib, both members of the Lebanon-based March 14 political alliance, May 21, 2012. Lebanese soldiers shot dead two members of an alliance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in northern Lebanon on Sunday, security sources said, in the latest incident to raise fears Syria's turmoil
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The phenomenon of Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir emerged in the Lebanese town of Abra, east of Sidon. During the civil war, Christian residents deserted the town only to return and find that its demographic — and even geographic — landmarks had changed. The Assir “phenomenon” emerged out of a Sunni desire to stand up against what they considered bullying by the Shiite Hezbollah. It is worth mentioning that Hezbollah kept its arms after the end of the civil war under the pretext that they are used to resist Israel.

Following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah still retained its weapons. The Syrian military’s influence at the time, as well as disputed pieces of land such as Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills, forced Lebanese parties to accept these weapons.

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