Thursday, 3 January 2008

Trouble in Basta

The Daily Star reports on a punch-up in the Basta area of Beirut between oppositon and supporters of the Future Movement.

"The Lebanese Army opened fire into the air to disperse a clash which erupted in the Basta neighborhood of Beirut on Tuesday between supporters of the Sunni Future Movement and Shiite Hizbullah and Amal groups.

"Seven people were hurt in the clash which started on Monday when unidentified individuals tore down and burned a giant poster of Rafik Hariri.

"Tension increased on Tuesday night on Mamoun Street when Future Movement supporters attempted to re-erect a picture of Hariri and his son MP Saad Hariri. Clashes erupted between Future supporters and others, including Amal Movement and Hizbullah supporters, who refused to let the Hariri poster be erected 'in their area'."

Meanwhile Al-Nahar reports that the opposition will close down the airport in a wave of protests.

"The Hizbullah-led Opposition plans to close Beirut airport as well as major ports across Lebanon. It was also considering launching sit-in protests at Bkirki and the U.S. embassy in Aukar, it was reported on Thursday.

"The report was carried by the pro-opposition newspaper al-Akhbar and the daily al Mustaqbal, mouthpiece of MP Saad Hariri's Future movement.

"Al Akhbar, citing unnamed sources, said the opposition was studying the possibility of closing down Rafik Hariri international airport as well as most ports along the Lebanese coast.

"It said the opposition was also examining the prospects of 'organizing a large sit-in' near the U.S. embassy in Aukar and blocking vital roads.

"The daily said these 'ideas were still under serious debate among the various factions to avoid plunging the country into internal strife.'

"Al Moustaqbal, meanwhile, said the opposition's 'plan' covers a number of items.

"Among them was a sit-in outside Bkirki in 'protest' of the Maronite church's stance regarding the presidential election crisis.

"It said a similar sit-in at Aukar would be organized in 'protest' of the US supportive position vis-à-vis the majority March 14 alliance.

"Al Moustaqbal cited the 'intent to push the country into a siege, plunge it into more chaos and exhaust security forces, particularly the army' as motives behind the 'hostile stance' in closing the airport road."

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