The impact of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict currently raging in southern Lebanon appears to go farther than some might have initially imagined. In addition to the complexities of the war itself, Islamic reaction to the conflagration has been in some ways united, and in other ways certainly divided. Of course, the world is now familiar with al Qaeda’s recent call for a worldwide ‘jihad’ against Israel in what would seem to be tacit support for Hezbollah, a Shi’a organization. Commentators have noted, however, that this unusual state of affairs (i.e. a Sunni organization supporting a Shi’a) is perhaps an example of al Qaeda not wanting to be ‘upstaged’ as the world’s premier terrorist organization. Hezbollah now enjoys the admiration of the Islamic world, which has put many Arab/Sunni leaders in a peculiar position, including al Qaeda. Initially the conventional Arab-Sunni world had condemned the Hezbollah attacks. But now even Sunni governments/nations are feeling compelled to support the group lest they lose credibility in the eyes of their people. Some see events in the Levant spiraling into a larger regional conflict, and it’s not only the West that’s worried. Many Sunni-Arab leaders can see themselves being pulled into this struggle only to watch their Shi’a adversaries in Iran reap all the benefits.
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