Michael Totten

When will law rule in the land-of-do-as-you-please?

By Abu Kais

Action speaks louder than words. Action against outlaws Hizbullah and Aoun should be taken. The Lebanese government waited until they were comfortable enough to mobilize people and capitalize on the state’s weak/weakened resolve.

PM Siniora saw today’s mass protests (plural because March 14 staged another in Tripoli) as "freedom of expression", and proof that "freedom should be protected in Lebanon". On Friday, he accused Hizbullah of staging a coup d’etat. I am sorry, but if you’re going to accuse someone of staging a coup, you have to keep at it and not spin it into "freedom of expression". There are other things you need to do, like mobilize your army and security forces against the organizers of this coup. Let it be war between the legitimate authority and the illegal militia before it becomes a war between sects.

Siniora, trying to enter history as the statesman who never ruled, also endorsed a large number of checks and payments to Shias in the south who lost homes, as some of these people asked for his head on a stick and called him a traitor, among other things.

What else transpired at this alleged manifestation of freedom of expression?

Nasrallah’s deputy Naim Qassem laid out two demands:

1- Siniora has to order the Lebanese army to return confiscated weapons back to Hizbullah
2- Siniora has to resign

Michel Aoun threatened to take over the Serail by force.

“We look for peaceful methods, but other methods are also legitimate,” he said, referring to steps to force the cabinet to resign. He added that the barbwire around the Grand Serail will not protect the ministers from the “natural expansion” of the protestors next time they take to the streets in large numbers.

And then this Aounist conundrum: “In a few days, we will announce a transitional government… we will demand a transitional government… to hold early elections.”

While Aoun seemed impatient, Qassem said they were prepared to stay on the streets for 10 months if necessary until their demands are met. With Iran and the Lebanese government funding his people, the livelihood of other Lebanese doesn’t really matter. What matters is Hizbullah’s weapons, Aoun’s presidential aspirations and Syria’s obsession with the Hariri tribunal.

In other news, Hibzullah continues to build illegally in the Raml El Aleh area. And this isn’t their only illegal activity (apart from asking for their illegal weapons back). The militia is now in charge of issuing permits to journalists wishing to cover the protests in downtown Beirut. Naharnet also reported that they are importing army and police uniforms.

Meanwhile, the leading newspaper An Nahar reported that Hizbullah purchased thousands of army and police uniforms from a local company trading with such items in south Lebanon.

The respected newspaper did not elaborate on its short report, which sparked concern in security circles that Hizbullah’s trained and tested fighters might use the uniforms as disguise to attack the heavily-guarded government offices, which Saniora and his ministers have been using as residence, across the street from the angry protestors taking part in the city center sit-in.

A ranking security official told Naharnet, that a shipment of uniforms similar to what is used by the Lebanese army and police force has been "imported by a local merchant from India and was recently sold to a local faction."

The security official warned that if the army and police uniforms were used by "irregular factions, this would further escalate the ongoing confrontation and would lead us to facing a real threat of terrorism."

It also emerged today that Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir had asked Syrian-installed President Emile Lahoud to resign three weeks ago (too late buddy). I will not comment on March 14’s counter rally in Tripoli. It makes no sense to me when government spokespeople keep telling us what we already know, and never suggest ways to stop this invasion.

Oh why bother…