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As-Safir: “Government’s decision to criminalize resistance threatens country”

Mideast Wire

As-Safir, an independent leftist newspaper, wrote in its lead editorial on May 8: “Political and security developments accelerated yesterday in a dramatic and unprecedented manner. The Lebanese capital and the nearby suburbs awoke yesterday to a scene that brought back to Lebanese memories the black scenes through which they lived for more than 15 years and which they believed had gone forever. Yesterday witnessed new sectarian frontlines being set up as the country became once again an attractive scene for confrontations and for settling scores. The Lebanese were expecting a labor strike but they were surprised by a painful crop that grew from the latest government decisions, which constituted a coup against the current government’s agenda and the whole Lebanese history following the Al-Ta’if accord.

“The government is obviously trying to start an open confrontation with the resistance by robbing it of its national character to be replaced by the accusation that it is an illegal militia force. The government also undermined the political agreement that regulated the vacuum period and stipulated that the government should act as caretaker and shouldn’t take any decisions that include dismissing or appointing employees in sensitive positions. This raised a big question mark about who is responsible for taking these decisions, which showed that the government now lacks the minimum requirements of wisdom and reason. While the opposition, especially Hezbollah and the Amal movement, were expected to respond politically through a responsible attitude, they chose to “hide” behind the labor front and demands, which is harmful both to the social and labor movement and to the cause the opposition is championing.

“Beirut and its suburbs lived yesterday through a heated and tense atmosphere interspersed by clashes between loyalists and opposition members some of which became armed confrontations which left wounded victims. The road to Beirut international airport and some of the entrances to the capital were closed in a scene worse that anything witnessed since 1990. It seems that the formula, which the opposition sent to the government ahead of the latest government session about the ruling team having to bear the cost of the closure of the Beirut airport if it decides to dismiss head of airport security General Wafiq Shqier, has gone into effect which implies a threat that the airport will remain closed until the government recants its decisions…

“Concerning the political communication, it was learned that Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal tasked the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Abdul-Aziz Al-Khoja to communicate with his Iranian counterpart Muhammad Rida Shibani to ask him to settle the situation but without any clear result. It was also repeated that the commander of the army General Michel Suleiman had sent officers to both sides offering more than one formula for a settlement, the most prominent of which stipulates that the government should freeze its decisions until the conclusion of the investigation into the issue of the surveillance cameras but the ruling team rejected these formulas. There were other offers for a settlement between the ruling team and the opposition through the remaining security channel between the two sides which passes through Colonel Wissam Hassan, the head of the information bureau, and Hajj Wafiq Safa from Hezbollah.

“It was learned that the ruling team offered to the opposition an attitude in which they backtrack from the issue of the phone network in return for preserving the decision to dismiss Shqier while leaving it to speaker Nabih Birri and Hezbollah to appoint his successor, but the opposition refused and insisted that Shqier should remain in his position… It was also repeated that the ruling team is applying pressure on the commander of the army to announce a state of emergency but Suleiman refused any attempt to embroil the army in street warfare and threatened that he might resign if the situation on the ground continues as it is and that he might order the army back into its barracks to keep it united…” - As-Safir, Lebanon

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