General Strike in Lebanon brings Civil War Closer

A disturbing article in Naharnet, the English language translation of Lebanon's largest Arab daily An Nahar.

Thanks to Hezb'allah's obstructionism in blocking the selection of a consensus candidate for President - current military chief General Michel Suleiman - and their continued insistence that the opposition deserves to have veto power over cabinet decisions of the majority government, the political crisis that has roiled the tiny country for more than a year is gradually spilling into the streets:

Fears are mounting that Lebanon's prolonged political crisis could spill out on to the streets after a spate of protests over government paralysis and worsening living conditions.

In recent weeks, protesters have blocked roads leading to the airport, setting fire to garbage bins and rubber tires, while skirmishes have erupted between members of the Sunni and Shiite communities.

And on Thursday, Lebanon was braced for more violence, with the army deployed heavily in Beirut and elsewhere amid a nationwide strike called by the farmer and public transport syndicates.
 
[snip]
 
Although security forces have managed to contain the various recent protests, the simmering tension has prompted alarmist headlines and warnings of all out civil strife.

"The threat of an escalation becoming more real" said a headline in the L'Orient Le-Jour daily this week.
Some analysts are saying that this is part of Hezb'allah's "manageable escalation" plan where they raise the specter of a civil war in order to pressure the government to give in to their demands.

The danger is that Lebanon is already a powder keg and that any miscalculation about "managed" escalation could spiral out of control very quickly. That would bring immense tragedy to a country still reeling in many respects from the 1975-89 civil war as well as Hezb'allah's blunder in going to war with Israel in 2006.

There have been unconfirmed reports of Sunni militias training in Saudi Arabia while other reports have Hezb'allah fighters infiltrating from the south to the north in anticipation of conflict.

Meanwhile, the Gordian Knot grows tighter as both sides dig in and refuse to compromise any further.
A disturbing article in Naharnet, the English language translation of Lebanon's largest Arab daily An Nahar.

Thanks to Hezb'allah's obstructionism in blocking the selection of a consensus candidate for President - current military chief General Michel Suleiman - and their continued insistence that the opposition deserves to have veto power over cabinet decisions of the majority government, the political crisis that has roiled the tiny country for more than a year is gradually spilling into the streets:

Fears are mounting that Lebanon's prolonged political crisis could spill out on to the streets after a spate of protests over government paralysis and worsening living conditions.

In recent weeks, protesters have blocked roads leading to the airport, setting fire to garbage bins and rubber tires, while skirmishes have erupted between members of the Sunni and Shiite communities.

And on Thursday, Lebanon was braced for more violence, with the army deployed heavily in Beirut and elsewhere amid a nationwide strike called by the farmer and public transport syndicates.
 
[snip]
 
Although security forces have managed to contain the various recent protests, the simmering tension has prompted alarmist headlines and warnings of all out civil strife.

"The threat of an escalation becoming more real" said a headline in the L'Orient Le-Jour daily this week.
Some analysts are saying that this is part of Hezb'allah's "manageable escalation" plan where they raise the specter of a civil war in order to pressure the government to give in to their demands.

The danger is that Lebanon is already a powder keg and that any miscalculation about "managed" escalation could spiral out of control very quickly. That would bring immense tragedy to a country still reeling in many respects from the 1975-89 civil war as well as Hezb'allah's blunder in going to war with Israel in 2006.

There have been unconfirmed reports of Sunni militias training in Saudi Arabia while other reports have Hezb'allah fighters infiltrating from the south to the north in anticipation of conflict.

Meanwhile, the Gordian Knot grows tighter as both sides dig in and refuse to compromise any further.