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. obviously

    Sarah Palin's fault.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amine Chaar

    Unfortunately Iran once again will dictate on their will and the only way to stop these criminals by destroying them. We removed the only defender to these hodlums "SADDAM" now it is our job
    Hizbollah will not be stopped until Nasrallah is killed or captured, he is "OSAMA" and represent the IRAN in Lebanon
    GET RID OF HIM and his party

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

    Israeli generals have predicted that the next full-scale attack will likely come from Lebanon.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OdaZ

    Question. If all of the middle east was destroyed by nuclear bombs, Would the world be a better place? As sad as it is to say, the answer is probably yes. The inhabitants of the middle east are the remenants of a great civilization. The problem is that their beliefs, values, and customs have not changed for hundreds of years. I wish they would embrace education, tolerance, and love for other cultures and beliefs that are not their own. Instead if trying to better themselves they constantly blame others, aka the US for their problems. Perhaps if they cares more for their children and families than they did about revenge and religious conquest their society could advance beyond the dark ages.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      So what planet have you been living on for the last 3 decades? The USA is full of people blaming others for their problems and advocating destroying them. Kind of like you just did in your post.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • OdaZ

      I've been following your posts. You are just another apologist for Hezbollah and they kind. You act like they are children. It's not their fault they committ terrorist acts killing innocent women and children, the US made them do it. I feel sorry for you, but I don't blame you, you are too stupid to know better

      January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • OdaZ

      As well, you actually proved my point. I made a comment about middle east society, and your response was about the US. I'm glad you guys have the US and the west to scapegoat, otherwise you would actually have to take responsibility for your failure as a people. I would love nothing more than for the middle east to join the 21st century. Choose education prosperity tolerance over theocracy brutality and murder of innocents. I mean, what kind of society has riots where people are killed over some cartoons drawn in Denmark.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Make them nomads

    hopefully they decimiate tel aviv in the next war, isreali fear of this is the only reason there has been calm and peace for the last 4 years. When ten of thousands of missiles from hezbollah rain on tel aviv and other major cities there will be alot of isrealis will move to france and germany and just visit their relatives in isreal. See isreal is supposed to be a haven for jews, this is being underminned everyday. All the while Iran is on the side lines about to go nuclear and laughing how a small proxy is such a threat. Its evident that iranians are outwitted isreal and all of its allies

    January 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Hezbollah does not have tens of thousands of anything other than idiot followers.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laffin

      You saber-rattling halfwits are the first ones to take off your shoes and run away across the desert stands when you see Israeli soldiers approaching. Kind of like what Hezbollah did in 2006.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Significant damage to Tel Aviv will result in nuclear retaliation. What a silly thing to wish for. Why do you hate your children so much that you want them to die in a nuclear holocaust?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maz

      I don't think Israel will risk another war with the people of South Lebanon. That would be both useless and devastating to their millitary image.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LebaneseChristian

    I'd rather have Israel as a peacefull neighbor rather then Hezbollah running the government and turning Lebanon
    into Iran 2.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      @LebaneseChristian... Do most Christians in Lebanon support Israel or at least don't consider them an enemy?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maz

      Of course you would, Lebanese like you are the ones who modeled themselves off Nazis, and then proceeded to massacre innocent Palestinian civllians (from the Bus massacre to Sabra and Shatila to Karantina), and used your Christianity as a tool for Western support. You can move to Israel, the IDF might need some more heartless bombers

      January 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Antimo

    Have you ever known when and why Hezbollah was created?

    That was because Isreal invaded Lebanon in 1982. Hizbullah emerged as a resistance group since then. If Israel did not invade Lebanon, Hizbullah never exists.

    All of thse bad things happening in Lebanon are orchestrated by US, Isarel and Western countries. They want to undermine stability of Lebanon and isolate Hizbullah with whatever ways. They are very concerned about Hizbullah's popularity in the region and Islamic world. It is a symbol of resistance. US, Isarel and corrup Arab leaders want to stop Hizbullah from gaining its popularity in the region. While US puts Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, I have never seen Hizbullah killed inncocent people around the world and make any trouble in the region except to liberate their southern territory occupied by Zionists who have been killing thousands of innocent people and children in the region. Why does not US also enlist this state as terrorist organisation?

    It is clear that Hezbollah has nothing to do with Hariri's killing. They have no interest in killing Hariri. It makes more sense if this is done by Israel or some factions in Syria

    January 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Hizbullah has claimed responsibility for a large number of attacks on civilian targets that killed children. If you have never seen them you must have your eyes closed.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      In 1982 Israel was fed up of years of terrorists sneaking into Israel and killing its people. It invaded at that point. It didn't just wake up one day and decide for no reason to invade. But you really knew that but can't admit it.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. burrito

    E VIVA MEXICO HEHEHE

    January 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Antimo

    Who created Hizbullah?

    If Isarel never INVADED Hezbollah in 1982, Hezbollah never exist.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thisguyiskillinme

      LOL, reading your posts is seriously makngi my day. Ignorance is bliss baby, I want what this guy is having.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adam

    It would be nice if the ArabVoice could decide on a period of history and stick to it. Frankly, any Arab discussing Imperialism must ask himself why there was a reconquest of Spain in the 1400's...could it be? Arab Imperialism? Yes. Somalia is Islamic because of Arab Imperialism, Pakistan, Iran, many Islamic nations gained their faith via conquest. So really, you're insistence on "US meddling" being the cause of instability is really a rheotrical device used by those who preach from the pulpit a message of the Israeli/US being the cause of instability. Look at your history, Islam has created some of the most enlightened regimes in the world...HAS is the operative word....now Islam has been corrupted by the political world and has become a shadow of its former self. Hezbollah was a member of the government, and never pushed for the "liberation of Lebanon"...instead they used their term in office to behave like children who got caught being bad. They have denied the allegations of their complicity in the assassination of Hariri...but have refused to co-operate with any investigation into who was behind it. That sounds like a guilty conscience, if they weren't responsible, they would welcome an investigation to clear their names. ICC has repeatedly handed down verdicts in favour of Islamic groups (KLA) so the insinuation that somehow they're corrupted by the US doesn't stand so well. Especially considering the ICC's repeated attempts to prosecute American war criminals, their subservient status which you claim doesn't live up to the facts. Frankly, its the ignorance and rheotric which has cast a shadow in Lebanon...not the US or Israel...and the idea the Syrians are a force for good is unsustainable. The presence of their military in the civil war protracted the conflict, and they have repeatedly destabilized any nascent government. In essence the problem is that the people of this region have forgotten the real lessons of their past, that tolerance prevails where force cannot and love conquers hate. The history of this region is so vast, that anybody can formulate a historical reason for violence against another...and be justified. Stop looking at who needs not to be there, and work on making it work with who IS there. 1 state solution in Israel...call it the Israeli-Palestinian Republic or if you prefer the Palestinian-Israeli Republic, either way stop cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      Actually you are more than right. Islam was spread through the sword. Virtually every country that is now Islamic was conquered by Muslim invaders. Either convert to Islam, live as a dhimmi and pay jizya or die. That was the way it was and even the Islamic apologists can't dispute that. Even Mecca and Medina were Jewish towns before the lovely Mohamed invaded them, killing by beheading all of the men and boys and taking the women and girls as slaves. The truth hurts doesn't it?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      @Art so true and those fanatics are forgetting these they are dishonoring their ancestors who died unjustly because of that Islamic conquest... what a real shame they are believing and following the killer of their ancestors... what ignorance... so sad...

      January 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. George

    Why are Arabs becoming a tool of Iran? All this is a power play for Iran in the region! Hezbollah is an Iranian surrogate army.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George

    The Christians will fight they will not tolerate a Hezbollah-Iranian controlled Lebanon!

    January 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jj

    You blame Israel, who displaced the Palestinians - yet you ignore history because it serves your agenda. Who did the Palestinians displaced when Muslim invaders brutally murdered the previous occupants in an imperialistic land grab? Don't trust them, or their lies.

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

    Kraz
    No ones nuking anything and you know it. And Im sure they are waiting till they are under a iranian nuclear umbrella. You zionist talk tough, just like youve been threatening to bomb iran "by next spring" every year since 05. If you nuke an arab city or country, so goodbye to alot of jews in the mid east. Master bluffers. Even in your safe havens outsdie isreal (Germany, France) your are vastly outnumbered

    January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      You are a brainwashed moron. You haven't had an original thought since you accepted Allah, and his child molesting prophet.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      Why are the Muslims hated in Germany, France, Sweden, England, Italy, Denmark, Holland and all other western countries. Is it because they are so peaceful? The the truth hurts doesn't it?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thisguyiskillinme

      Out numbered? Are you serious, what are there like 1.3 billion muslims in the world. Face the facts, the other 5.7 billion of us don't like you and your insane lack of civility. If it's a fight you want, go for it. You can't win. Even the tiny nation of Isreal without the help it its civilized friends beat the crap out of every Islamic nation in the region, handily I might add, twice. And that was when they hadn't even organized or set up defenses. Now look at them, gun turrets and walls, good luck with that with your AK's and suicide bombers. Keep up the good work, its really working for you.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Make them nomads

      ISreal asked bush for bunker busting bombs he said no. I cant attack iran on their own or they would have done it. They arent shy about attacking a weak country. They got US weapons rush delivered because they were facing imminent defeat in 73 when egyptian and syrian forces penetrated isreali territory. Isreal is a joke without the US. God help you when your neighbors go nuclear

      January 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • bleh

      that's all you know killing and hating non Muslims if the west is like you you have been invaded and converted forcefully just like what your prophet did to your ancestors

      January 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tamars

    I pray the citizens of Lebanon rise against the hideous Hezbollah. They may die fighting but they will surely die under Hezbollah.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
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