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Update on Lebanon May 10th

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Via The Angry Arab News/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب the Guardian reports:

Lebanon’s western-backed government was reeling yesterday after Hizbullah guerrillas seized control of Muslim west Beirut in a significant victory for the Iran-supported Shia movement.

The Hizbullah takeover – described by some as a coup and others as a “show of force” – broke months of political deadlock that reflects Lebanon’s deep internal divisions and the ambitions of neighbours such as Syria and Israel, as well as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. But, as an uneasy calm returned to Beirut yesterday, it was unclear what the change would mean.

Hundreds of people flooded across the border into Syria to escape the violence.

As’ad also blogs:

“…the Secretary of State is reaching out to the government of Lebanon, and we are always willing to see whatever their needs may be and work with them. It’s a democratically elected government; we want to help them succeed because it’s the right thing to do for the people of Lebanon and the people of the region.”

Razan blogs:

I just came back from the funeral wake of my neighbor’s son. He was 16 and he and his friend were shot this morning in my street. His family owns a bakery and a cafe in my neighborhood.

Also, via Razan, Press TV reports:

Embattled Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora might resign on Friday after the opposition took full control of Beirut.

Informed media sources told Press TV that Siniora might announce his resignation at 8:00 pm local time on Friday.

A Lebanese news website later reported that Siniora would resign on Friday and assign the army to take responsibilities of his cabinet until a transitional government is formed.

Meanwhile, gunmen affiliated to majority leader Saad Hariri’s al-Mostaqbal (Future) Movement have moved to eastern parts of Beirut where they are planning to team up with Amin Gemayel’s al-Katayeb and Samri Geagea’s Lebanese Forces militiamen.

MarxistFromLebanon blogs about lessons learned:

Well, by 11:00, I heard AMAL took over Makdisi Street, by midnight I was aware that the Hezbollah/AMAL forces dominated over the Future militants, and overwhelmed them easily. When I saw Nasrallah talking on TV with a big calm smile, I knew it was going to be a rough night…

So, so far. The Lebanese government threatened to take over the communications network of Hizbollah, the same low-tech network that was vital for the militia in defeating the high tech Israeli Defense Force. But, can Hizbolah really hold on to their swarth of territory in Beirut? Blacksmith Jade blogs:

Hizballah finds itself in a bind in Beirut – internationally, it is viewed as a non-legitimate force which has aggressed a democratically elected government; within the Arab/Islamic world it is seen as the Shiite aggressor against the Sunni Lebanese; and it is politically/militarily unable to hold large swaths of a hostile Beirut for longer than a few days, at which time it will have to hand control to the Army and its Commander, Michel Suleiman, thereby returning the country to an equilibrium already agreed upon politically the only difference being its having exposed its weapons by using them internally against fellow Lebanese.

The latest from Farfahinne‘s Twitter:

Clashes in Tripoli between the current and future Ho Omar Karami (Leader of the Opposition)

Violent clashes between militia in Khalde and the militia of the future Arslan (Druze party in opposition) resulted in two deaths and the situation of Wal-Candidate heighten.

إشتباكات في طرابلس بين تيار المستقبل ومسلحي عمر كرامي (زعيم من المعارضة)

إشتباكات عنيفة في خلدة بين ميليشيا المستقبل وميليشيا إرسلان (الطرف الدرزي في المعارضة) أسفرت عن وقوع قتيلين لإرسلان والحالة مرشحة للتصع

So far though Al Jazeera English reports (with video):

Opposition fighters in the Lebanese capital are reported to have been pulled off the streets after seizing control of large parts of west Beirut in three days of fighting with pro-government forces.

At least 18 people have been killed in the worst clashes in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Beirut was reported to be “calm but tense” on Saturday following overnight clashes outside the city.

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