Middle East Peace and Security Initiative Nonresident Senior Fellow Nicholas Blanford writes for the Christian Science Monitor on the funeral of Lebanese soldier Mohammed Hamiyah and the plans for vengeance in the name of his death:
Hundreds of tough-looking men with weather-beaten faces and thick beards filed into the smoke-filled Shiite meeting hall. They had come to pay respects to the family of Mohammed Hamiyah, a Lebanese soldier executed more than a year ago by Syrian militants.
Sitting at the front of the hall, known as a Husseiniyah, were several religious representatives – a Catholic bishop, the Shiite mufti of the Bekaa Valley, and the local Sunni mufti. They were here to preach tolerance as a balm for the ever-present specter of sectarianism between Sunnis and Shiites that has been inflamed by more than four years of war in nearby Syria.
But for the assembled mourners, in accordance with time-honored tribal traditions in the Bekaa Valley, communal harmony was secondary in their thoughts to exacting revenge against Hamiyah’s killers.
Hamiyah’s very funeral had been made possible under a prisoner swap between the Lebanese government and Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s Al Qaeda franchise. The deal led to the return of 16 Lebanese soldiers – and Hamiyeh’s body – in return for 11 Islamist militants. But it seems only to have deepened anger in Taraya and across the country against the militants who roam freely in the rugged mountains in northeast Lebanon.