The Islamic State group has succeeded in sweeping through parts of Iraq and Syria in part by appealing to disenfranchised Sunnis, alongside terrorizing its enemies with violence. When Islamic State group fighters seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June, some Sunni residents welcomed them out of resentment of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, which they accuse of discrimination.
Lebanon’s Tripoli is not as extreme as Mosul, but its mostly Sunni Muslim residents share similar grievances.
The neglect is palpable in Tripoli, a city once prized for its Islamic scholarship, its delicate sweets and the fragrance of the groves of bitter oranges surrounding the city. But it never recovered from the civil war. Its old, elegant buildings are still battered from that conflict. Ugly high rises have smothered Tripoli’s groves, and cement-block checkpoints line roads.
"Tripoli is neglected. It has been neglected a lot. Tripoli should be different," said clothing merchant Rashid Noushi, showing where he’d artfully concealed bullet holes with new stock.
Despite the tensions, restaurant owner Hayak said most Tripoli residents didn’t want the Islamic State — but the Lebanese government
"We want the state to impose its sovereignty here," he said. "We want the state."