Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say
A pro-Hezbollah cleric spray paints his family name on a banner in Sidon supporting caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
January 19th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say

Militants fanned out across Beirut and reportedly staged coup drills as political unrest continued to percolate in the country, Lebanese and Israeli media outlets reported.

Operatives from Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite groups, gathered in groups of up to 30 at a dozen strategic points in the Lebanese capital Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post said.  Included were sea ports, the airport and entries to the city, the newspaper reported.

Though Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, told The Post he wasn’t aware of any such drills, parents pulled their children from school after seeing people dressed in black and carrying hand-held radios.

A mother of three picking up her children in the Hamra area of the capital said the school contacted her “because the security situation is not good,” The Daily Star in Beirut reported.

One gathering was about 400 yards from the Grand Serall, downtown Beirut’s government seat, forcing security officials to close the roads to the building, The Post said.  The men were unarmed and no trouble was reported, according to various media.

Sources told The Daily Star that the men appeared well-organized and were seen in west Beirut, downtown and in the southern suburb of Hadath.

The drill came as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down for talks with Lebanese politicians, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, aimed at heading off sectarian strife in the country, The Daily Star reported.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is also involved in the talks, and he met with Lebanese Army Gen. Jean Kahwaji to discuss a potential role for the Syrian army in achieving security and stability in Lebanon, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said.

An earlier joint mediation effort by Syria and Saudi Arabia fell apart this week, and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told al-Arabiya that his nation abandoned its efforts because the situation was dangerous.

“If the situation reaches full separation and (regional) partition, this means the end of Lebanon as a state that has this model of peaceful cohabitation between religions and ethnicities,” al-Faisal told the station.

A coalition led by caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri viewed the drills as a rehearsal for what might happen if Hezbollah is accused of involvement in the bombing that killed Hariri’s father and 22 others in 2005, according to The Daily Star.

“The orchestrated gatherings carried out by members of Hezbollah and its allies for more than two hours … were aimed at sending a clear message to the Lebanese about preparations to stage riots and also a similar message to the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers who are visiting Lebanon today,” Hariri’s Movement of the Future said in a statement.

The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon handed down a draft indictment that Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said indicts several Hezbollah members in the assassination. The International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, has not released specifics of the indictment for fear of provoking violence in Beirut.

The tribunal has no police force and relies on national authorities to arrest suspects, something Hezbollah has said it would never do, according to Haaretz.

Hezbollah has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombing and says the tribunal is an “American-Israeli tool” for stoking sectarian violence in Lebanon, The Daily Star reported.

A source close to Hezbollah further told the newspaper that Tuesday’s drills were “a small message to say that the time for talk is over.”

Other sources close to Hezbollah told The Jerusalem Post that the drills were “a real exercise to test the readiness of any such plan to take over Beirut and its periphery, including entries, the port, waters and the airport.”

The Post cited another source who said that Hezbollah wants to avoid a civil war like the one that killed tens of thousands in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990. Rather, the group would prefer to “deal directly with the U.N. and the International Court.”

The U.N. building in central Beirut could be one of Hezbollah’s future targets, a source told the newspaper.

Eleven members of Hariri’s 30-member Cabinet resigned last week as the prime minister was meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. The move brought down Lebanon’s unity government and prompted several mediation efforts.

Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, had been pressuring the government to reject the tribunal’s investigation into the bombing that killed Hariri’s father, who resigned as prime minister the year before his death.

Hezbollah blames the bombing on Israel, while many Lebanese people have blamed Syria, which had immense influence in Lebanon at the time.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Lebanon • Politics • Protest • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Security • State Department • Syria • Turkey • United Nations
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. HF

    Hebullcrap can do anything they wish, One day is coming soon, wait moron, ........ Hezbollah hmmmm

    Scare tactics, and thats all you could come up with, your weapons are toys, wait and see. You really wish to see killing.

    When your civilian run for Syria next time, 1 million will DIE ON THE ROAD DIRTBAG, THEY WILL GET SLAUGHTERED and MASSACRED ......... HEY MORON don't PEE OFF! What goes around WILL COME AROUND, so shut your pir hole

    January 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. stop the jewish oligarchs

    If hez. said they were not responsible they were not.the evil terrorist in the region are.isreal.People don't let this satanic people turn you evil and kill one another.rise up and unite christans and muslims brothersso peoples won't fight each other...cursaders across the world fight the evil NWO

    January 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • crawbar

      Hey, stupid liar, the whole world knows that shia hates sunis and vice versa more than they hate Jews. And you kill one another in big numbers. And you did that even before Israel appeared on the map. You yourself show to what a miserable state a human, if I can call you human, can be brought by dirty Islamist propaganda. No brains left...

      January 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      the satanic ones are the ones who teach their children to kill, hate others and suicide bomb you know who that is you are just on denial

      January 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dave

    NO matter what the comments are...it all boils down to this....arabs will blame the israelis for everthing...they are filled with hatred for israel..does not matter if it is terroristgovernement or not...arab world is missing the boat for a great life with all their oil due to hatred in their hearts...
    history has written the script and they do not know it cuz they have NO FREEDOM to read the scrioputures for themselves...what a pity that they grow with the sin of deep hatred

    January 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Katrine

    Thank god for hezbollah...they are protecting my country from anyone trying to harm them...lebanon is 100% behind you!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      apparently 60% of the population do not want them do you know how to count?

      January 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Coney

    Work for World Peace – End All Religion!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jkdpab

    Israel was humiliated in the 34 day war. Obama will fix this mess and take care of the problem. The Israelis bed down with dogs at night. They are afraid of Iran and what happened in the 7th century.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      they are afraid you are correct because fanatics terrorize them every time and won't leave them alone but they will fight back they are a super power you just don't see because they are only on defense mode. fanatics keep on tirelessly doing what they love sending rocket and missile gifts because it's Israel let them even try do that to China or US lands and the fanatics will cease to exist

      January 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eric hamm

    read the book of daniel

    January 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jord

    Israel does not occupy 1 inch of lebanon..and Jews and Israel were here loonng before islam even existed...dirty lying m.uslims...j

    January 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. seamus

    OdaZ please bend over!

    January 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sassan

    Hizbollah is a terrorist organization funded by the Iranian government. The Islamic Republic of terror openly advocated for the return of the "Hidden Imam" or "Imam Zaman" whom is supposed to come back at the end of time. If Iran had a nuclear weapon knowing that Israel would retaliate and annihilate the Iranian people, they would do it; why? Because Iranian lives mean nothing to them. People want to ignore the real issues by justifying such terrorists jeopardize the existence of the region and even broadly the human race. Lebanese people are for the most part great people with a great history and heritage. Lebanon is majority Christian, not Muslim. Hizbollah is a thorn in the side of the Lebanese people and in the side of all civilized humans. I am an Iranian-American speaking out about this and as someone who has spent considerable time in Iran in the last year. Let's not fool ourselves of the problem: it is religion and it is in particular the Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic's only hope of keeping power past the next couple of years (protests will again happen in the next fake Presidential elections there) is by starting a war. It is the dream and main objective of the Islamic Republic to start a war within the next 2-3 years.

    January 20, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. deebo

    who benifits the most from killing Harrir ?

    i think that answers everything !!!!, also for all you so called experts, who think they know whats going on you have no idea, most of you guys going off your dial, are not lebanese, pro israeli and mass fox news lovers ! unless u have been there, experienced war, seen whats going on then you can put your 2 cents in !

    Americans should worry about their healthcare system first, or maybe the other dictators in the ME that i see no1 here going off about !!!, seriously none of you have ANY idea about whats going on !

    just pay off your debts, mortgage , cc and whatever other minimal issues u have in your life, because at the end of the day your 2cents doesnt change shizen !!!! stay out of our business and we will stay out of yours !!!

    January 22, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      Well... And who benefits the most from Hariri's assassination, in your opinion?

      January 22, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • behee

      we know you are experts on killing and need nobody help, but it is you that start complaining there is no help from usa when there is an earthquike or some other disaster.Make up your f.....mind!

      January 25, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Morons

    Actually, Actually, Actually......what a joke
    That's right, keep blaming everyone else for your own bad actions!
    and keep killing each other, then we can have some peace.

    January 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rod smith

    I think that it's just too fast too soon and the politacal parties envolved are going to be like vultures in the wind. Standing and waiting in the background to take advantage of so called name of democracy

    February 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. meow

    i like makethemnomads comment<3

    February 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
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