Beirut was once called the Paris of the Middle East. Not anymore. The war-torn Lebanese capital is again perched on the precipice of civil war.
As I blogged last week, the Shiite militia Hezbollah, invigorated by its pyrrhic victory over Israel in August, is trying to oust Lebanon’s Western-backed Sunni prime minister, Fouad Siniora. Earlier today, the Washington Post reports, the situation in Beirut took yet another turn for the worse. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, accused Siniora of asking the U.S. to cut off Hezbollah’s weapon supply lines.
Israel has been accused by the U.N., Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of indiscriminately targeting civilians in Southern Lebanon, where most of the country’s Shiites live (Israel claims Hezbollah was using civilians as human shields). Essentially, Nasrallah accused the prime minister of offering the country’s Shiites to Israel as sacrificial lambs.
Those are fighting words. If there’s any truth in them, no self-respecting Shiite would allow Siniora to remain in office. Then again, many of Hezbollah’s followers may believe the charges simply because Siniora criticized Hezbollah for picking a fight with Israel.
Siniora, for his part, made some personal jabs at Nasrallah but didn’t directly deny the charges.
— Cameron Scott