More unrest likely for gridlocked Lebanon

More unrest likely for gridlocked Lebanon
Flames rise from burning cars at the site of a car bomb that targeted Beirut's southern suburb of Haret Hreik on January 2, 2014. A large car bomb killed five people and wounded at least 20 in south Beirut, a health ministry source told AFP.

BEIRUT - Politically paralysed by deep divisions exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria, Lebanon is likely to see a continuing cycle of political violence, analysts say.

On Thursday, four people were killed in a bomb blast in a southern Beirut stronghold of the powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement, a key ally of Damascus, less than a week after the assassination of a prominent Sunni critic of the Syrian regime.

The attacks were the latest in a string of incidents linked to the Syrian conflict that have strained Lebanon's fragile multi-sectarian political system.

"I expect an escalation of the deterioration in the security situation," said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University in Beirut (AUB).

"The explosions are a direct consequence of the situation in Syria and finding a solution to the crisis in Syria is facing a deadlock," he told AFP.

The effects have been far-reaching for Lebanon's political scene, traditionally fractious but now increasingly dysfunctional.

The government effectively collapsed nine months ago, with the resignation of the prime minister, and lengthy negotiations on the formation of a consensus replacement have gone nowhere.

Parliamentary elections have been postponed, and there are doubts about whether a presidential vote scheduled for May will go ahead.

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