Beirut – Tens Of Thousands in Beirut Demand Hezbollah Disarm

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    Lebanese wave Lebanese's national flags during a rally at Martyrs' Square, in Beirut, Lebanon, 13 March 2011. Thousands of opposition supporters gathered to mark the sixth anniversary of a popular uprising against Syrian troops in Lebanon, demanding the disarming of Hezbollah.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEHBeirut – Tens of thousands of supporters of Lebanon’s pro-Western opposition thronged downtown Beirut on Sunday, demanding that the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah give up its weapons.

    The rally was a potent show of support for Lebanon’s toppled prime minister Saad Hariri, who moved into the opposition after Hezbollah and its allies forced his government to collapse in January.

    “We want to place the weapons at the disposal of the state because it is the state that unites us all and it is the army that protects us all,” Hariri said, shouting over the crowd as they cheered and waved Lebanon’s national flag.

    Hariri has taken a far stronger public stance against Hezbollah in recent weeks than he did during his 14 months as prime minister, suggesting that the country’s political deadlock is far from over.

    Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, said the group will not respond to Sunday’s gathering.

    But a slew of billboards has popped up in Beirut lately, saying “Israel also wants Hezbollah disarmed” — a clear message that Hezbollah sees its weapons as a necessary safeguard against its enemies.

    Hariri accuses the militant group, which is backed by Syria and Iran, of using its weapons for intimidation and political leverage.
    A general view shows Lebanese waving Lebanese's national flags during a rally at Martyrs' Square, in Beirut, Lebanon, 13 March 2011. Thousands of opposition supporters gathered to mark the sixth anniversary of a popular uprising against Syrian troops in Lebanon, demanding the disarming of Hezbollah.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
    Sunday’s rally heightens growing tensions in Lebanon over a U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

    The Hague-based court is widely expected to accuse Hezbollah members of involvement in the killing in indictments issued two months ago but which remain sealed. Hezbollah vehemently denies having anything to do with the killing, and its ministers walked out of Saad Hariri’s government when he refused to cut ties with the tribunal.

    Hezbollah and its allies then secured enough support in parliament to name Najib Mikati as their pick for prime minister. Mikati has emphasized that he will not do the bidding of any one side in Lebanon’s fractious politics, but he is still struggling to form a Cabinet.
     Lebanese supporters of March 14 movement carry placards showing the picture of Lebanese former Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a rally at Martyrs Square, in Beirut, Lebanon, 13 March 2011. Hundreds of Thousands of opposition supporters gathered to mark the sixth anniversary of a popular uprising against Syrian troops in Lebanon, demanding the disarming of Hezbollah.  EPA/NABIL MOUNZER
    Opponents of Hezbollah — which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization — say having an Iranian proxy at the helm of Lebanon’s government would lead to international isolation.

    Hezbollah’s weapons are a longstanding and contentious political issue in Lebanon.

    Hezbollah was the only Lebanese faction allowed to keep its weapons under the agreement that ended the 1975-1990 civil war, on the grounds that it needed arms to fight any potential threat from Israel.

    Today, the arsenal far outweighs that of the national army and public sentiment on the weapons is mixed. The Lebanese applaud Hezbollah’s ability to confront Israel, but many accuse the group of leading the country into violent conflict.

    In 2006, many Lebanese complained that Hezbollah had dragged the whole country into war with Israel. Two years later, 80 people died in clashes as Hezbollah resisted government attempts to dismantle its private phone network.

    Sunday’s rally also paid tribute to Rafik Hariri, whose assassination changed the course of Lebanese history by sparking a massive protest movement in 2005 that that became known as the “Cedar Revolution.”

    The movement ushered in the end of Syria’s 30-year military domination if Lebanon.

    The five-time prime minister had close ties with Western leaders as well as Syria and was credited with helping rebuild Lebanon’s capital after the civil war. In the last few months before his assassination, however, he had tried to limit Damascus’ influence over Lebanon, and many accused Syria of involvement in his killing.

    Syria denies those accusations.

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    6 COMMENTS

    1. Even these Arabs realize how corrupt and evil Hizballah and all terror groups like them are and they want them out. Why should Israel have to forced by the US to deal with and accomidate such terror groups as the PA. Just because Abass wears nice suits does not transform him or any of the other Palistinians into respectable people as the murders of the family in Yitzhar proves..

      • Hezbollah and its leader Nasrallah really don’t have anything to do with the PA or Abbas. They are very different enemies, with very different ideologies. Hezbollah would still be at war with Israel even if Israel and the PA signed a peace agreement.

        And the Palestinian PM Fayyad isn’t a terrorist at all. (Unfortunately Fayyad’s political party got all of 2.4% of the vote in the last Palestinian elections.)

    2. Reply to #2
      I did not say that Hizbollah and the PA are connected in any way. I am making the analogy that just as the Arabs of Lebanon recognize that terror groups are the root of the problems of their country that the US should should also acknowledge that dealing with Abbas who harbours the Al Aqusa Martyr’s Brigade and other groups should not force Israel to do what the Arabs in Lebanon do not want to do which is bow to the whims of Nazi terrorists. Abbas is an animal in a nice suit who incites anti-Jewish feelings in the media and in schools and has only brought trouble like the murders of the Fogel family. Abbas has nothing to offer Israel, no peace no security.Whatever Abbas has is what Israel gave him, land in exchange for peace and we have no peace. What have we gotten for it? Abbas is inciting his children in schools to grow up to be terrorists. For example, one math book states: “If you have 5 Jews and kill 3 how many are left?” As for PM Fayyad who you say is no terrorist, I judge a man by the company he keeps.

      • Hezbollah IS an Arab organization; the Arabs in Lebanon are deeply divided. It isn’t clear that the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade even functions any more; Al-Jazeera reports that someone claiming to represent them often takes credit for terrorist attacks with which they have nothing to do. (Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad certainly exist and are as dangerous as ever.) Abbas is and has been a professional propagandist and apologist for terrorist organizations for his entire career. Fayyad, OTOH, is a well-respected free-market economist who has tried to develop capitalist institutions and a transparent non-corrupt infrastructure to support that. He has also cooperated with Israeli security forces and as a result there have been far fewer terrorist attacks. Because of all that a lot of pro-Palestinian crazies have dubbed him an Israeli stooge. He is also quite inconvenient to Israeli extremists because he is exactly what they claim does not exist: A Palestinian moderate who opposes violence.

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