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Lebanon’s Tripoli microcosm for Syria conflict

While Lebanon has struggled to remain neutral and uninvolved in Syria’s conflict, Tripoli has come to mirror the volatile dynamics of its larger neighbor.
A man holding groceries walks in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, December 3, 2013. The Lebanese government has told the army to take over security in the restive coastal city of Tripoli for six months, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday.Ten people were killed in weekend clashes between Tripoli's Alawite minority, which supports Syria's Alawite President Bashar al-Assad, and majority Sunni Muslims who back his foes. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS) - RTX162

Tripoli, the so-called capital of northern Lebanon, is regarded as the flash point that clearly shows the extent of the Syrian crisis’ impact on its smaller neighbor. Since the outbreak of the events in Syria, the security situation has worsened in Tripoli, which is demographically considered the capital of the Lebanese Sunni Muslim community.

To a large extent, the demography of Tripoli resembles a microcosm of Syria. While 400,000 Lebanese Sunnis reside in Tripoli, a few thousand Lebanese Alawite citizens reside in the city’s Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, located on a low-lying hill. The Alawites are called the 18th sect in Lebanon, and they are truly a minority in Tripoli, just as Syrian Alawites are a minority in Syria with its overwhelming Sunni majority.

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