While I was in Lebanon gathering the material I’ve been publishing, Hezbollah kept threatening to strangle the country by seizing major roads, including the one that leads to the airport. I was worried I might get stuck there, but I didn’t. Today, though, they finally make good on their threat. Palestinian guerillas are reportedly helping.
Future TV and LBC say there are clashes between rioters and commuters. Cars, as well as tires, are burning.
Photos via Blacksmiths of Lebanon. Click for more.
UPDATE: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Seniora accuses Hezbollah of intimidation and terrorism. He may be over-reacting a bit with the t-word in this context, but it’s telling because he used to call them a “resistance” movement instead of terrorists. Those days are gone.
UPDATE: More pictures at The Ouwet Front. One commenter says “It looks like Gaza.” Yes, it does.
UPDATE: Here is a BBC photo gallery. Below is a sample.
UPDATE: Violence is spreading. Three people have been shot. Sunni and Shia Muslims fought each other with sticks, rocks, and automatic weapons in Southern Beirut. Violent clashes, often involving gunfire, are erupting elsewhere in the country as well.
Michel Aoun threatens to escalate.
UPDATE: Beirut is covered in smoke.
UPDATE: 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.
UPDATE: This post is getting a lot of attention from other blogs. This is mostly a link round-up, though. In case you missed some of my recent original reporting from Lebanon, here is an interview with a liberal Shia cleric, a descendent of the Prophet Mohammad, no less, who is an outspoken enemy of Hezbollah. And here is a photo gallery of Hezbollah’s “capital” south of Beirut that was devastated by the Israeli Air Force during the summer. It looks like World War II blew through there.
UPDATE: 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.