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Al-Akhbar “Lebanon in the mouth of the dragon”

Mideast Wire

Al-Akhbar, an independent pro-opposition newspaper, wrote in its lead editorial on May 8: “Yesterday’s incidents constituted a strategic shift in the internal and regional struggle over managing the situation in Lebanon. While the opposition hid under the cover of the labor protests to register an objection, the most prominent of its type yet, to the policies of the ruling team, the ruling team expressed its commitment to its decisions and launched discussions about a plan of action which includes managing the confrontation on the ground while also calling for help from the Arab world and international Security Council to protect itself in Lebanon… Beirut witnessed yesterday the most violent confrontations in a long time after both sides violated the redlines and headed with firm steps towards an armed confrontation that is expected to be resumed today so long as no political agreement emerges into the light.

“Knowledgeable sources reported that the opposition, and especially Hezbollah, is not about to backtrack from the movement they started yesterday until the government recants the decisions it announced on Tuesday. It was learned that a security aide to MP Sa’d Al-Hariri suggested in the past few hours a solution which entails the government freezing its decision to dismiss the head of airport security General Wafiq Shqier and the issuance of a statement in which Al-Hariri considers the communication network part of the resistance’s weapons, but this was denied by March 14 sources, who confirmed that the government is not about to backtrack and that the opposition will bear responsibility for the steps the parliamentary majority is contemplating.

“These steps include asking the Arab League and the Security Council to interfere through all available means to “protect Lebanon from a coup led by Hezbollah with the support of Syria and Iran”. This team hurriedly asked for help from Mufti Muhammad Rashid Qabbani to add a sectarian dimension on the ongoing confrontation and Qabbani responded by launching an attitude which was unique in its animosity towards Hezbollah and Iran...

"Beirut witnessed throughout yesterday intense clashes between the opposition and ruling team interspersed with armed clashes unprecedented in their intensity. The firefights continued until late last night along several axes in the capital and the areas adjacent to the southern suburbs. The Lebanese army tried to contain the situation after militants from the opposition forced the evacuation of civilian and military outposts of the Future Movement, which hastened to deploy dozens of militants in Qureitim, Spears, and other areas…

“The opposition forces, especially Hezbollah and the Amal movement, closed a number of roads, especially the one leading to the airport where prominent employees were informed that the opposition has decided to keep it closed until further notice, which pushed the ruling team to talk about plans to open Al-Qulei’at airport. There were a series of communications yesterday but most of them focused on the security aspects between the Lebanese army and partisan factions and were aimed at trying to contain the situation and open the roads, especially after the army refused to enter into any clashes with the opposition while the internal security forces retreated from the scene. Some Arab and western embassies moved in an attempt to understand what is going on.

“A noticeable state of shock affected the Saudi and American diplomacies who hastened to issue new warnings to their citizens to leave Lebanon as soon as possible. The opposition forces decided to continue their daily protests in the same places and sources announced that the protestors would not leave the streets and would continue escalating their protests to the extent of launching a civil disobedience movement, but the sources didn't reveal the steps that the opposition intends to implement on the ground.” - Al-Akhbar Lebanon, Lebanon



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