This theory comes courtesy of Abbas, who works as an office boy at a consulting firm in Ras Beirut, and uses the first person plural pronoun (“we”) when speaking about the Hizb.
Abbas: The Damascus bombing was a message to Syria from the Salafists operating in north Lebanon. The message stated, loud and clear: “Keep out of Lebanon or be prepared to pay the price.” Furthermore, Monday’s bomb attack on an army truck in Tripoli was a similar message, sent to Beirut: stay out of north Lebanon, etc.
Abbas continued: The near future will bring a Syrian military return to Lebanon. Not all of it: just the north, which has become the haven for a growing Salafist militant community. The goal will be to end the Salafist problem. Syria will do this with full diplomatic cover from Europe (especially France) and the Americans will stay quiet about it because it will be part of the “war on terror”. Most importantly, it will have the sanction of a Lebanese government that desperately needs to gain the upper hand over a festering problem.
“Why the Syrians?” I asked, perhaps a bit naively. “Why not just have the Lebanese army go in and deal with these people.”
Abbas smiled and said conspiratorially: “The Syrians are the only ones who can do it. They have … an expertise, shall we say, in such operations. They can end the entire issue.”
I stared back blankly, not exactly sure of what he was saying — and not really wanting to know.
“What do you mean ‘end the entire issue’?” I asked tentatively.
“What do you think?” he smiled back.
“You mean… like Hama?”
“But Abbas, are you suggesting the Syrian army is going to buldoze all of Tripoli?”
“No, but certain neighborhoods, why not? The Syrians know how to do this. In fact, they are the only ones who can do it. No one in Lebanon will assume this responsibility because it’s a sectarian powder keg. The Syrians will do it, and they’ll do it very relaxed (murtaaheen). They will be happy to do it. First of all, it’s in their interests, second of all it will win them points in Lebanon, Europe, and the U.S.”
“So if it is so much in their interests, then how do we know that they are not the ones funding these guys in the first place, i.e. in order to make a fire and then be paid to put it out?”