Foreign Policy Blogs

US Embassy Officials Attacked in Beirut

17lebanon-500.jpgOn Tuesday, an American Embassy vehicle was the target of a bombing in Beirut. The explosion left two US Embassy officials with light injures. An American citizen, not affiliated with the US Embassy, was also injured. At least three people died and more than twenty were wounded.

The attack was the first on American interests since 1991, leading analysts to raise questions about a renewed threat for Americans traveling or living in Lebanon.

A sociology professor at Lebanese University, Talal Atrissi, has a cynical outlook: "We have entered a new phase of targets, everything is now possible. It is a threat to spread chaos if no solutions are reached."

On the other hand, political science professor Shafik Masri did not suggest this attack was part of a "new track," but that it was a continuation of attacks in recent months.

Not getting coverage in American media, but of note was the denunciation provided by Hezbollah's spiritual leader Hassan Nasrallah:

“We condemn and denounce any explosion that takes place on Lebanese territory, regardless of who is targeted, and especially if innocent people are killed.” However, take that comment with a grain of salt. In 1983 Hezbollah killed a total of 241 Marines, Navy Personnel and Army Soldiers in the bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut.

Whether this attack is part of a new phase or a continuation, the bottom-line is that Lebanon remains a volatile state. The power struggle between the Shia community and the Christian Maronites is not fading, leaving the government in disarray. In addition, Syrian interests in the country aim to stoke fire whenever a relative calm appears to set in.