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. tony

    and where is this news coming from? Jerusalem Post, no kidding,and we are to believe what zionists say.get a life cnn.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      lol. "blah blah blah zionists blah blah". What, like al-Manar is any better? I've followed Hezbollah's mouthpiece for a while. The spin and bias in their stories makes them a complete joke. At any rate, are you denying that any of this happened, just because CNN took parts of the report from jpost? Come back when you have something useful to say.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott C. McLaughlin

      Hey tony, just wanted to point out that J-Post is but one source in the story. We also have Haaretz, The Daily Star, the U.N., the State Department, al-Arabiya and the Syrian Arab News Agency, so it's not coming solely from one place. Thanks for reading!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Hezbollah and Israel should go head to head and self-destruct.
    LEBANON, then, can be left alone - as it SHOULD BE!

    LONG LIVE A FREE LEBANON!

    January 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. iamrael

    The Beirut barracks bombing (October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon) occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen. The organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing, but that organization is thought to have been a nom de guerre for Hezbollah—or a group that would later become part of Hezbollah[1]—receiving help from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Need I say more?

    January 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. publius enigma

    This is what happens when you let people have too much freedom!

    January 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. freedtoo

    The next war with Israel is looming.....Iran will have complete control in Lebanon and will turn Hezbollah,it's mad dogs, loose to wreck havoc in the Middle East. Hopefully, this time Israel, without the interference of the hopeless and corrupt UN, will totally destroy the terrorist organization and free Lebanon of this monstrous animal. The unfortunate part is that many civilians will die and of course Israel will be blamed.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Harold Brookstone

    Hezbollah is most likely guilty of murdering Rafik Harriri and now they are threatening the people of Lebanon if anyone tries to bring some of these terrorists to justice. There will be no peace or freedom in Lebanon until the Hezbollah/Iran terrorist army is gone.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    My girlfriend is Lebanese and I can't stand what these idiotic fanatics are doing to her family's country. It is truly said. Get the hell out of Lebanon you parasitic dogs. Going to throw temper tantrums and make threats of violence whenever things (ex. UN tribunal) don't go your way? Go crawl back to your puppetmasters in iran and leave Lebanon to the civilized adults.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      typo: "truly *sad*"

      January 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Danny

    This is terrible news. As a Lebanese-American, it is known that Lebanon is about 60 percent catholic. Lebanon just wants to be left alone. It always seems that all the factions not related to Lebanon wants to use it as a "battlefield." They just want to be left alone.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Your population percentages don't match those of any reliable information source Danny.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maz

      Lebanon is not 60% Catholic, you ignoramous. Lebanon is 40% Shiite, 15% Sunni, 15% Druze, and 30% Christian of all denominations. By all means, the Christians are not under any persecution. They do the persecuting themselves

      January 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MikeBell

    More intimidation. Doesn't anyone see the trend?
    Even Israel has found immigrants with the sole intent to infiltrate and overwhelm Israel in population and representation.
    Tactics of intimidation and displacement are affective because the perpetrators gain victim status when challenged.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Great point. And the Palestinian "cause" thrives off of victimization, and they know it. It's great for international PR. Israel should stop doing such a good job defending itself and let themselves get overrun with Islamist militants slaughtering israeli civilians. Then maybe the rent-a-march protestors might be forced to acknowledge the Israeli situation. Actually no...they could never do that. It goes against their ingrained biases ;).

      January 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. OdaZ

    In regards to the comments made about the israeli/Hezbollah war of 2006. Anyone who knows anything about war knows that Hezbollah is not an actual threat to Israel. On what criteria do you claim that Hezbollah won the war. Not losing the war completely is not a victory. What damage dis they do to Israel?What Israeli territory dis they seize? They are the same as all the other cowardly militias. They fire some of their weapons and then go and hide in hospitals, schools, and mosques, because they are nothing but cowardly thugs. Ask the Lebanese people if they won that war.... Last time I checked 'freedom fighters' wasn't synonymous with cowardly, but maybe it has a different meaning in the middle east. I hope Israel 'loses' again this time, just like it did in 1967, and every other conflict with Muslim countries.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • FreedomIsntFree

      Well said. Coward is definetly the best word for them. I think all news agencies should stop using the word "Terrorist", I think it gives them way to much credit and replace it with "Coward", "the coward blew him self up in the market today and 30 people died", "The US considers Hezbollah a Cowards organization".

      January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Make them nomads

    wow all you lebanon and muslim bashers are just a bunch of criminal jews. Isreal is the terrorist. They went only after civilian targets after they couldnt engage hezbollah on the ground. They are just mad that a group actually developed the strength to oppose them, they no longer have the power to do unlimited evil and that drives them insane. they cannot kill goyim as their talmud instructs. I hope a revolt happens in egypt and a similiar minded group takes over. Go back to Germany you khazars, while they still want you.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • OdaZ

      What you actually mean is that they couldn't engage Hezbollah on the ground because Hezbollah was hiding behind civilians, because they were too cowardly to stand against Israel. I guess hiding until the fighting is over os the new doctrine of the middle east militias.....cowards

      January 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamrael

      You're not only ignorant, but a liar. It's hezbollah that uses hospitals, mosques and schools as weapons depots, using civilians as human shields and then crying to the world press when "civilian" targets that they turned into they military targets are attacked. Hezbollah started the aggression against Israel by crossing the border into Israel and kidnapping 3 soldiers (all of whom they killed). Then hezbollah launches thousands of missiles into Israeli towns and villages.

      So you tell me, who's the terrorist?

      January 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeMar

      Your another left wing looney islamo apologist that doesnt seem to know much at all

      January 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      Go back to Germany? Um.. the Jews have been in the middle east continuously for 3500 years. It was Mohamed and his hordes that invaded the area in the 7th century. I want the Arabs to go back to where they came from. Why is Egypt killing the Copts? Is that Israel's fault too? Why are the Muslims killing other Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and virtually every other Islamic country? Why? Please answer those questions. I won't hang by my thumbs waiting though.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      it's funny that fanatics are always saying Israel is the Terrorist while their pawns are blowing themselves in buses and civilian areas where is the logic in that? fanatics are saying Israel is the terrorist because they are being "terrorized" because they are afraid and hiding among civilians. so funny wake up fanatics Israel is a world super power and they want to be left alone there if you want to erase them to the map think twice you fanatics are lucky they are only on defense stance if they attack you offensively good luck... don't attack anyone and all of you there will be friends stop hating your neighbors

      January 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MikeBell

    Islam groups such as this are political movements that seizes control of the minds of the gullible or the frightened in the name of religion. Even Communism, Atheism, and Progressivism have loyalty that can be likened to a religious fervor. Islam puts the religious fervor component at the forefront.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Concerned Citizen

    Whatever the people of Lebanon support is their right. If they feel that they are being subjected to injustice by other meddling powers, they have every right and duty in fact to satisfy their best interests. I'm an African American and our community is treated like those in the east, used for its resources but never respected as people. I say Lebanon, do your thing.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Diddy

      Oh please do shut up!

      January 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Salameh4peace

      T Ditty, your response and all other's responses, like correcting grammar, bringing up Germany, and other counter-productive open speech is why there is no peace in the Middle East. Evolve your mind and the wisdom will put yesterday to shame.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Concerned Citizen – Your "community" isn't routinely bombed, fired on by tanks or denied the right to buy or grow food. Comparing the level of suffering of a group of Americans where there are more middle class than poor to the suffering of Lebanese who are subject to bombings and open warfare every few years is asinine at best.

      Many Lebanese think their best interests lie in getting rid of Hezbollah. Since 60% of the population oppose Hezbollah, I don't see where your apparent support of them makes any sense.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      Kraznodar- Make yourself aware that oppression comes in many forms. Psychological or physical. Blacks in amerikkka have already been through the physical subjugation if you are aware of history. Example: Tulsa, Oklahoma (1920's), Wealthy Blacks were bombed, shot dead and houses looted by white americans. 400 years of proof. The west has a history of taking from others.

      You should also make a clear distinction, it matters not if one million people believe in the wrong principle, it only matters if one person understands Truth & Justice. Your mention of 60% of Lebanese wanting to do away with Hezbollah is not validated because you have not illustrated fully, the reason behind the 40%'s support. It should be clear by now that America is the greatest terrorist on this planet, not just other countries, but even Nature knows this to be a Truth.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maz

      Kraznador, you act like the Shiite are doing the bombing lol the Shiite are the only ones getting bombed and bombarded by artillery. We are the only ones who sufferred during Israel's invasion and the 2006 War, and the majority of Shiite support the party.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      If you want to be a little more in depth about corruption in the world, then you may look into the research that the French learned that Black Africans already had a complete system that knew the not too popular "Entanglement Conjecture." It is fact that the least spiritual people on the planet are europeans. It is Biologically proven through various branches of Life Ecology. Albinos don't survive very long. -Nature

      January 20, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      When the World supports the position of the African Americans, the world will exit in Balance. Disease is in every country, but Blacks love Love.

      January 20, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. Otis

    And the Obama administration continues to send weapons to Lebanon that will eventually be used by Hezbollah to kill any opposition and attack Israel, a scenario that after the ineffective UN intervention at the end of the latest Israeli/Lebanon war equates to the total destruction of Lebanon and any Hezbollah allies.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chinese made weapons

      are better, the US made weapons are so so. This is what the war of 2006 showed. Ask the Markava designers.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rafal

    Down with Hezbollah! Enough said.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
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