May 9, 2008

COUP D' SEVERAL ETATS:

Hezbollah fighters overrun West Beirut and media HQ (Times Online
May 9, 2008)

Hezbollah fighters seized control of rival pro-government strongholds in Beirut today as gunbattles rocked the Lebanese capital for a third day, edging the nation dangerously close to all-out civil war.

The Shia Muslim group, the most powerful armed movement in Lebanon, has also forced the shutdown of all media belonging to the family of Saad Hariri, the parliamentary majority leader, while a rocket hit the outer perimeter of his Beirut residence. [...]

Witnesses said that several Sunni neighbourhoods in west Beirut considered bastions of Lebanon’s ruling bloc had been overrun by militants from Hezbollah and its ally Amal.

Fierce gunbattles also raged in the mixed Sunni-Shiite-Christian neighbourhood of Hamra where opposition militants also appeared to be gaining ground, AFP correspondents saw.


Hezbollah Unleashes a Coup Bid (Mona Alami, 5/09/08, IPS)
"We are witnessing the creation of the state of Hezbollah at the expense of Lebanon's democracy," said Ramy Rayess, PSP spokesman in a phone interview with IPS. "The Party of God manipulated the Labour Union call (for a demonstration) to attempt a mini coup, which could eventually lead to a bigger one."

Hezbollah fighters impose control on Beirut (Reuters, 09/05/2008)
Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah took control of the Muslim part of Beirut on Friday, tightening its grip on the city in a major blow to the U.S.-backed government.

[...]

Saudi Arabia, a strong backer of the governing coalition, called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers over the crisis, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported.

A pro-government leader called for dialogue. "The party, regardless of its military strength, cannot annul the other," Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Druze minority, told LBC television station from his home in Beirut. "Dialogue alone brings results. Running away from dilogue is not useful."


It's long past time to pretend these are differences between parties and acknowledge they're between nations, that's the only way order will come to the area.


MORE:
Clashes between Shiites and Sunnis intensify in Beirut (Nada Bakri, May 9, 2008, IHT)

Nasrallah left open the door for negotiations by saying that Hezbollah would back down if the Sunni forces left the streets of Beirut and the government reversed its decision to try to shut down the telephone network.

After Nasrallah's speech, the leader of the largest bloc in Parliament, Saad Hariri, a Sunni, proposed a deal to end the fighting and called the government's decision on the telephone network a misunderstanding.

Hariri said the decision should be left up to the army command, effectively taking it out of the government's hands. He also urged the immediate election of the army commander, General Michel Suleiman, as president and the convening of a national dialogue among the rival factions.

Later on Thursday night, Al Manar television, which is run by Hezbollah, said the group had rejected Hariri's proposal.


Hezbollah fighters take much of Beirut: U.S.-backed security forces protect government buildings but avoid street clashes. "The situation is chaotic," says one official. (Raed Rafei and Borzou Daragahi, 5/09/08, Los Angeles Times)
The Shiite militia Hezbollah today handily took over much of the capital in a dramatic escalation of the months-long confrontation with the Western-backed government, security officials said.

As Hezbollah swept through West Beirut, Lebanon's security forces, which received more than $270 million in U.S. aid last year, mostly stood by, protecting government buildings but stepping back from the clashes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 9, 2008 6:15 AM
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