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Assir Crisis Reflects Deeper Lebanese Divide

Although the Lebanese army successfully eliminated Salafist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, the societal divide that led to his emergence remains.
Bullet casings are seen on a street , during clashes with gunmen of hardline Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, in Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013. Lebanese soldiers fought Sunni Muslim gunmen in the southern city of Sidon on Monday in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence fuelled by sectarian divisions over the civil war in neighbouring Syria. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - RTX10YXN

There is no doubt that the attack Ahmad al-Assir conducted against the Lebanese army constitutes a stark violation of the law. It was a reckless act at the least, and a criminal act at worst — regardless of whether Assir was one of its masterminds, tools or victims.

In all cases, when considering the dimensions and repercussions of the incident, what happened was a crime against the law, a stark violation of the state and a stab in the heart of the national charter. As it is unacceptable to take the incident lightly and show leniency in regard to the attack on the army, it is equally unacceptable to exaggerate the risk Assir poses as a Salafist and to attempt to link him to the jihadist movements that function under the flag of armed struggle and have become an equivalent of international terrorism.

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