Conflict Analysis digest
Issue 2, March 2018
February 2018 conflict trends:
- February 2018 witnessed a total of 409 incidents which is consistent with December 2017 (402 incidents) and January 2018 (403 incidents).
- Out of the 409 incidents mapped in February, arrest is the most recurrent with 138 incident – which is consistent with January (137 incidents) – and mainly relevant to illicit trade/trafficking, robberies, murders among others. It is interesting to note that since the appointment of new leadership at the head of security agencies such as the LAF and the ISF in March 2017, the number of wanted criminals arrested seems to have increased notably among individuals who were being protected by connections. More generally, this can suggest a more proactive stance of the Lebanese state security apparatuses to contain widespread criminality.
- The number of arrests related to the Border Conflicts with Syria (15 incidents) decreased by 37% compared to January (24 incidents). These incidents were mainly relevant to the LAF arresting Syrian nationals for illegal stay. It is noteworthy to point out that even though these operations were less frequent compared to January (10 incidents), they were however targeting groups of Syrian refugees rather than individuals. Following the recent intensification of the clashes in Syria, many civilians fleeing the conflict attempted to enter the country during the past month. For instance, on February 6, ISF arrested 34 Syrian nationals in Soueiri- Bekaa for illegal entry. Similarly, on February 7, the Army apprehended more than 70 Syrian nationals that were smuggled into the country near the Syrian border in Bekaa.
- The number of collective actions mapped in February (24 incidents) decreased compared to the 34 mobilisations mapped in January. Although the collective actions mapped for the past months were mostly episodic and reactive in response to recent developments, in February, the majority of these incidents were related to ongoing issues such as general amnesty for the Islamic detainees, salary scale for teachers, long-term contracts for EDL workers among others. It does seem that citizens have been pressuring policy makers more into addressing their concerns, ahead of the 2018 Parliamentary elections in May, as well as the closing of the candidates registration in the beginning of March.
- 5 gender based violence incidents were mapped in February which is a decrease compared to the 8 incidents reported during the previous month. Most of these incidents were relevant to sex trafficking with authorities busting prostitution rings. At the same time, no domestic violence or femicide incidents were reported, whereas most of the gender based violence incidents mapped last month were relevant to such crimes. However, these numbers are still alarming, reflecting a systemised violence against women, and still understate the scale of the problem given the underreporting of this crime. (See here the mapping of incidents of violence against women in Lebanon).
Focus on: Escalation of tensions in Ain el-Helweh
Tensions have been increasing in Ain el-Helweh in February 2018. The socio-economic situation and continuous tensions between armed militants and political factions in Ain el-Helweh have perpetuated a volatile security environment. Therefore, conflict incidents in the camp have been on the rise since late 2014, with alternating periods of resurging violence and relative calm.
In February, after few months of relative calm, 2 assassination attempts were reported on the same day (February 9). The first one targeted a joint security officer and the second one a member of Fateh movement. It was unclear if both attempts were related. An armed clash erupted afterwards between armed militants and the Fateh group. Moreover, 4 explosions were mapped in the camp with hand grenades being thrown by unidentified individuals on the 9th, 17th, 25th, and 28th.
In addition to armed clashes between political or militant groups, many outbreaks of violence are often due to personal disputes. These disputes often escalate into gunfire, drawing more people in, and occasionally harming those nearby. Hence, in February no less than 3 disputes mapped in Ain el-Helweh escalated into shootings. A “personal dispute” does not, however, have a fixed definition, but the perpetual stress of life in very precarious conditions may explain how these disputes can escalate.
About the digest:
The Conflict Analysis digest, is part of the Conflict Analysis Project, an initiative by Lebanon Support, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and available on the Civil Society Knowledge Centre (CSKC), Lebanon Support’s knowledge platform. The Conflict Analysis Project aims to make available and accessible information and research about conflicts in Lebanon, in order to better understand their underlying causes, and inform interventions and policy-making.
Going beyond the view of conflict through a security framework associated with belligerency and violence, Lebanon Support upholds that conflict is of a socio-political nature. It thus sheds light on dynamics underlying a broad spectrum of violent and non violent contentions including social movements, passing by conflicts opposing minorities (ethnic, religious or sexual among others) as well as local, national or regional actors’ policies. Read more and check the interactive conflict map here.