Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nasserallah Goes After Easier Target

It appears that Lebanese Hizbaballah leader Hassan Nasserallah is tired of knocking heads with Israel and is going after an easier target. His own country Lebanon.

Thousands of Lebanese loyal to Hizbullah leader Nasrallah blocked main roads in Beirut and around the country at the start of what may be a putsch against the government. One man has been killed.

Hizbullah's masses blocked roads with rubble and burning tires, cutting the capital off from its airport and from the rest of the country. In addition, the government opposition, led by Hizbullah, announced a general strike. The riots began at 6 AM local time, and plumes of smoke formed a black cloud over the city soon after.

Nine people have been reported injured in shooting, including one dead.

Thousands of pro-Syrian, Hizbullah and other elements have staged Beirut street protests and sit-ins for nearly two months. Camped outside Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's office, they wish to topple his government, install a new unity administration and hold early elections. Hizbullah leader Nasrallah has been making fiery speeches, calling the current government of a part of the "Zionist-American conspiracy."

Most main roads inside Beirut were blocked Tuesday morning, as were the highways linking the capital to north and south Lebanon and to the Syrian capital Damascus.
There is a report from Reuters that the siege is being lifted.
BEIRUT, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Lebanon's opposition began removing roadblocks across the country on Tuesday night after suspending a general strike and halting protests aimed at toppling the government, a senior opposition source said.

"All roads in various areas, including that leading to the airport, will be reopened shortly," the source said. He had said that the move was agreed by various opposition forces, including Hezbollah, after a day of clashes killed three people and wounded 133.
Here is another view of the situation posted about 4 hours ago. It is about 2207 GMT as I post this. Lebanese Premier Fouad Saniora in urgent discussions with the opposition.
Posted: 23-01-2007 , 18:23 GMT

Lebanon's Premier Fouad Saniora called for an urgent parliamentary session to discuss the deteriorating security situation after riots between anti and pro-government followers claimed three lives and wounded scores of others on Tuesday. Saniora told a news conference "I demand an immediate extraordinary meeting by the parliament to settle issues within the constitutional institutions."

According to Saniora, the general strike called by the opposition has developed into "provocations that went beyond all limits." "Blocking roads…is an aggression on the people and their freedoms. It is an attack on social order and it involves risks that are hidden to nobody."

However, he stressed that "our hands remain stretched to facilitate dialogue and settle problems and renew confidence between the Lebanese." The premier said the March 14 parliamentary majority that supports his government "will not fail to listen to the opinions of others."
The risk that is not hidden is a return to civil war in Lebanon. A wound that is still raw.

More on the end of the strike.
Lebanon's pro-Syrian opposition has suspended a general strike and halted protests aimed at toppling the Government.

Clashes between anti and pro-government supporters left three people dead and about 130 wounded.

Lebanese security forces say protests erupted into violence as pro-government supporters fought street battles with followers of the opposition, led by Hezbollah.
The reports are fragmentary so far and give no hint of why the siege was called off.

Here is a report from a day ago using the big lie technique. Nasserallah was trying to prevent a civil war. So he says.
BEIRUT, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called on Lebanese to take part in an anti-government strike on Tuesday to topple leaders who he said wanted to take the country to civil war.

Nasrallah said his Shi'ite Muslim group, part of the opposition which is locked in a power struggle with the government, would not be dragged to violence in a country still rebuilding from its 1975-1990 civil war.

"Some of the governing team strive day and night to push matters towards a civil war in Lebanon. Some of them work and dream ... that there will be a Sunni-Shi'ite war in Lebanon," he said, adding that they sought to partition the country. "We will not go to a civil war," Nasrallah told followers gathered to mark Ashura, when Shi'ites commemorate the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, the Imam Hussein.

The opposition has called a general strike for Tuesday, stepping up its campaign to oust the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who has in turn defied its demands for veto power in cabinet and early parliamentary polls.
A bit of speculation here, but I wonder if Iran isn't doing this as a warning to the US about what an attack on it could mean. Thing is, if you kill the queen bee, hive activity goes on for a while and then ceases.

Gateway Pundit has a round up of earlier events and photos.

Update: 23 Jan '07 2324z

Michael Totten has photos and commentary.
Just a side note here...Up until today Hezbollah has modeled its "resistance" to the elected government after the March 14 demonstations to oust the occupying Syrian army. The March 14 movement, though, never did anything remotely like this. That's because they are, for the most part, liberal and democratic while Hezbollah is a Syrian-Iranian terrorist army. Today should be a moment of clarity for the willfully obtuse.

Notice, also, that the violent clashes in the streets are mostly between Sunnis and Shia, not between Christians and Shia. This is, and was, entirely predictable. Those who think Hezbollah is a popular movement with the support of Lebanon's Muslims as a whole should think again.
Michael thinks it was called off because Hizballah was losing popular support due to the violence.
Hezbollah called off the so-called "strike." Nasrallah seems to be aware that his latest stunt was seen by Lebanese an act of war in direct violation of Lebanon's power-sharing arrangment.

Members of Parliament today described Hezbollah as "terrorists" and Beirut as "occupied." Nasrallah is learning the limits of what he can do. He can squat downtown, but he can't seize it or burn it without starting a war.
Michael Totten in the comments:
What you see in Lebanon right now is a proxy war between the Syrian-Iranian axis on one side, and the US, France, and Saudi Arabia on the other.

Saudi Arabia is on our side in this one. Lebanon may be the only country in the world where Saudi foreign policy matches mine.

The reason the Saudis are on the March 14 side is two-fold. One: The Sunnis are with March 14 and the Shia Iranians are with March 8. Two: The Saudis want one freewheeling Arab country they can visit on vacation. Seriously. The Saudis love Lebanon just the way it is. Huge numbers of them go there during the summer for drinking, gambling, and sex.
Ah the draw of Democracy, whiskey, sexy. And hashish. Blond Lebanese.

H/T reader linearthinker.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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