Top of the Morning: Increasing Violence in Lebanon; US Drought Sparks Global Food Fears; Ethnic Clashes in Kenya

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Once Again, Syria Conflict Spills Over to Lebanon

The increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict is rearing its ugly head in Lebanon with greater frequency these days. “Fighting in Syria spilled over yesterday into north Lebanon where at least four people were killed and 60 wounded, including nine Lebanese soldiers, during clashes between supporters and opponents of Damascus in the port city of Tripoli. The clashes were between Sunni Muslims and Alawites, according to security and medical sources. Gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and their Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen exchanged gun and grenade fire in sporadic fighting overnight and into the day, despite action by Lebanese troops deployed in the port city, residents said. Two of the dead men were identified as residents of Jebel Mohsen, a hill inhabited mainly by Alawites which overlooks the predominantly Sunni area below, where two other people were killed, medical sources said. The area is one of Lebanon’s most volatile sectarian fault lines and chronic Sunni-Alawite tensions in Tripoli have been heightened by the 17-month-old, mainly Sunni, uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite. Clashes in the city killed 15 people in early June.” (Irish Times

Analysts: Global Food Riots to Follow US Crop Failure

The US drought will have profound effects on food prices around the world. We should expect some riots as prices increase. “Surging food prices could kick off food riots similar to those in 2008 and 2010, Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, told Al Jazeera. ‘Recent droughts in the mid-western United States threaten to cause global catastrophe,’ said Bar-Yam, whose institute uses computer models to identify global trends. Hopes were high in May of a bumper corn crop this year, but sizzling temperatures in June and July scuttled those predictions. US corn yields are now expected to be the lowest in 17 years. The United States accounted for 39 per cent of global trade in corn in 2011-12. Stockpiles are now down 48 per cent, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Corn prices have shot up 60 per cent since June 15. Corn is a primary staple in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in much of Central and South America. In South Africa, the cost of maize has increased about 40 per cent in the last year, even before the US drought struck. Bar-Yam highlighted the food riots of 2007-08 and 2010-11 that were fuelled by sudden and dramatic spikes in food prices. He said his institute recently entered data from the US drought into its computer model, which predicted the outbreak of food-related unrest ‘in a short period of time’. ‘When people are unable to feed themselves and their families, widespread social disruption occurs,’ Bar-Yam said. ‘We are on the verge of another crisis, the third in five years, and likely to be the worst yet, capable of causing new food riots and turmoil on a par with the Arab Spring.’” (Al Jazeera

Ethnic Clashes Leave Scores Dead in Kenya

A rural community is the scene of some horrific ethnic violence. “At least 48 Kenyans were hacked or burnt to death in ethnic clashes between two rival groups, the worst single attack since deadly post-election violence four years ago, police said Wednesday. ‘It is a very bad incident…. They include 31 women, 11 children and six men,’ regional deputy police chief Joseph Kitur said of the attack, which took place late Tuesday between the Pokomo and Orma peoples in the rural Tana River district. Kitur said ‘34 were hacked to death and 14 others were burnt to death,’ while several huts were torched after a gang of men launched the attack, the latest in a long history of bitter clashes between the rival groups in the remote area of Kenya. It was not clear what sparked the attack, but the two communities have clashed before over the use of land and water resources, although the scale and intensity of the killings shocked police. (AFP