Friday, May 09, 2008

The Opposition Takes Beirut

The Opposition Takes Beirut
by Nadine Acoury

A few hours after yesterday's press conference of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, opposition fighters occupied the offices of the pro-government Future Movement of Hariri in Beirut, and battles focused on the Koraytem palace (Saad Hariri residence), which was hit by rockets, the Sérail (seat of the Siniora government), and the home of Walid Jumblatt (pro-government Druze party leader).

Hariri's media -- Future TV, the Al-Mustakbal daily, and Radio Orient -- have ceased all activity.

Appeals to Support the Leaders of "the Majority"

The pro-government circles are traumatized by the rapid defeat. Confirming their debacle on the ground, Jumblatt and Hariri (who have always boasted of "holding the heart of Beirut," leaving the "Shiite suburb" -- of the poor, workers, especially day laborers and low-income workers, artisans, and Palestinian refugee camps -- to Hezbollah) asked Nabih Berri (leader of Amal, another Shi'i party, and president of the National Assembly) to ensure their safety and that of their followers in Beirut.

The Army Content to Clean Up after the Opposition

Note the position of the Lebanese Army who did not oppose the advance of the opposition and settled for entering the occupied offices to evacuate the staff.

Michel Aoun

General Michel Aoun, leader of the (pro-opposition Christian) Rally for Lebanon, quickly expressed his continuing support for the resistance.

The "Red Lines" of the Opposition

In his speech of yesterday afternoon, Hassan Nasrallah was very clear: the country has entered a "new era" since the "decisions taken by the government of Walid Jumblatt" (in a clear allusion to the ultra pro-US Druze leader's takeover of the Lebanese executive power) concerning the resistance and its weapons, especially the telecommunications network of the resistance, and the dismissal of the head of the internal security of the international airport Wafik Shoukeir.

Nasrallah said the government should rescind its two decisions before resuming the national dialogue:
  1. decision to dismantle the telecommunications network of the resistance (which has existed for 20 years) because the network is an essential weapon of the resistance and its dismantling would allow the Zionist enemy to penetrate the heart of the resistance and assassinate its leaders and militants (as it does in Palestine)

  2. decision to dismiss the head of the internal security of the international airport (an official long known for his impeccablly patriotic and anti-Zionist administration) and to replace him by a puppet who would help the airport fall into the hands of pro-government militias allied with the United States and Israel and who would allow spies and weapons to be smuggled into Lebanon.
The Rest of the Country

Outside Beirut, in the mountains of the north and the south, the fighters of the government "majority" re-opened the national and international (Beirut-Damascus) routes that they had blocked yesterday.

Favorable International Context

As Israel sinks into a standstill due to the impending resignation of Olmert and his replacement, and the United States struggles to convince even its allies to follow its colonial war in the last year of the Bush presidency, the Lebanese resistance scores a major, decisive victory: do not touch the weapons of the resistance, resolve the political problem through national dialogue, and take the real majority of the country into account.

Social Demands

The general strike and demonstration of the General Confederation of Workers had been planned for months for the sixth of May, on the basis of demands such as:
  • raise the minimum wage (untouched since 1996 despite a price increase of over 140%)

  • increase wages of both private- and public-sector workers

  • extend social security to all workers (it currently covers less than 40% of workers).
The workers' demands were taken hostage by the government, which launched the provocation of the dismantling of the telecommunications network of the resistance and the dismissal of the head of the internal security of the airport five days before the strike, with a clear, unmistakable goal: liquidate the social demands of a majority of people of Lebanon who are suffering growing impoverishment, on the pretext that the strike blames the "majority" in the government and plays into the hands of the opposition.

French Sites and Blog

Arabic News Sites

The original article in French was published on the Web site of ISM France on 9 May 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

1 comment:

Murr said...

There seem to be some similarities between the Lebanese government's actions against Hezbollah and the recent attack against Basra and the Mahdi army in Iraq...

In both cases, nobody can seriously have believed that the government could achieve any military objectives; the US army was unable to defeat the Sadrists in the summer of 2004, making it very unlikely that the al-Maliki
would be more successful; the Israeli army was unable to defeat Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, making it very unlikely that Jumblatt could disarm them.

So why were al-Maliki and Jumblatt ordered to attack and provoke them? I'm afraid that the best explanation I can come up with is that having Arab puppets take on Shia armies is a way to create a suitable context for an attack on the West's real Shia enemy - Iran.