Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Beirut—14 May

Update 00:01

Gunfire erupted in south Beirut in celebration at the government backdown over decision to sack Hizbollah airport official and to dismantle their communication system.

Swissinfo has details of today's Arab League mediation.


Prices of some exotic foodstuffs (like ginger) have gone heywire, while vegetables are very cheap.


"Ramzi Ali was nearly 13 when his parents took him out of school to work as a motorbike mechanic", reports Irin, the UN news agency:

"Conditions are hard, and political tensions are destroying the country," said Ali, now 14, as he manned a barricade of burning tyres in central Beirut on 7 May. "My parents just couldn't afford to keep me at school any more."


A friend in west Beirut had a discussion with one of the opposition fighters who told him "that they were getting depressed because it seems that the opposition leadership 'will screw us' and 'Siniora is still in the Serail [government offices]'."


The Los Angeles Times notes:

For a year, the main Lebanese political faction backed by the United States built a Sunni Muslim militia here under the guise of private security companies, Lebanese security experts and officials said.

The fighters, aligned with Saad Hariri's Future movement, were trained and armed to counter the heavily armed Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah and protect their turf in a potential military confrontation.

But in a single night late last week, the curious experiment in private-sector warfare crumbled.

"We are prepared to fight for a few hours but not more," said one of the Sunni fighters in the waning moments of the battle.

"Where do we get ammunition and weapons from? We are blocked. The roads are blocked. Even Saad Hariri has left us to face our fate alone."

The head of a conventional private security firm in Beirut, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Sunni force was "not really ready."

"You can't just spend millions of dollars to build an army in one year," he said. "They have to be motivated and believe in something. They have to be willing to die."


Fuad Siniora, the prime minister, has announced that the decision to shutdown the resistance communication network was taken "under bad advice". In other words the government has buckled.

The opposition responded by saying that it will end its campaign of civil disobedience, once the dialogue begins.

Meanwhile the airport road, which I mistakenly thought was open yesterday, is being cleared to allow through a delegation from the Arab League.

Also Tuesday the army flooded the troubled northern city of Tripoli to end the fighting there.

It's a very hot day.

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