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. MikeBell

    The drills are even more of a reason to kick Hezbollah out of influence.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Muhammad Aiye-Aish

    I don't know if CNN will publish this, but my name is Muhammad, I am a Shia engineer who lives in Beirut, & the facts are that Hezbollah is totally guilty of Hariri's murder, and of wanting to totally take Lebanon. They have no interest in peace, they are funded by Iran & Syria and wish to make all the middle east a Shia run fundamentalist way of life. My father is a backer of Hezbollah & would just as soon kill me publicly if he knew of my comments here today- the way of life is nothing but disaster. Hariri was killed because he was tired of their crap, lies, evilness & garbage. Let's see Mr. Obama's leadership now... If Hezbollah makes a war with the 'Lebanese & Israel' and Israel bombs Iran to protect itself, you'll quickly see Russia & China get involved on the side of the Iranians... Where is this going? And for those who will insult my comments- do your homework... The Shia are crazy people, they'd rather die in the name of Islam then have peace any day of the week- please God help our small country of Lebanon...

    January 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Make them nomads

      lol. Liar. your are just a shape shifting jew. Stop proving sterotypes.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muhammad Aiye-Aish

      I'm not a liar- look me up on face book- I'm as real as they get! It is true Hezbollah is as evil as they get! I grew up watching what they do to people- are you in the south of Beirut? I am, almost midnight here & I'm hiding for fear as I type this...

      January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • crawbar

      Muhammad, you are so good and so courageous that it is even not easy to believe you are real. But I do know that people like you do live in Lebanon, my son had a Lebanese friend like you.
      As to this "Make them nomads", do not pay attention to him, he is just a piece of nomad's horse sh$t.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Buckdaviking

    I hear all this talk about who is and who is not part of a terrorist organization. Apparently no one recalls all of the terrorism spread throughout the globe by Europeans. Open a history book or take an "Objective" look at todays world events and you will find that the real global terrorists are most of todays superpowers. I am not a fan of Hezbollaha or any other group that sponsors terrorism but a lot of the actions that they take are reactionary to the policies and actions of the self proclaimed guardians of the innocent that only become involved if their is political or financial gain involved.

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

    Note to CNN: if you're going to let AIPAC write your articles, why not just be honest about it and credit them? I don't recall seeing US carrier group exercises in the Mideast being referred to as "Iran invasion drills", and that's all you've got here.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. harry

    Palestinians ruin everything for everyone. They could not have Israel so they stole Lebanon from the Lebanese. They are a good example of bad people.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckdaviking

      Palestine was stolen from them and given away by the British! Or did we forget that part?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      There never was a Palestine in the history of the world. On the other hand, since the Jews have been in that part of the world continuously for 3500 years, the Arabs stole the land from them. But we don't want to discuss that do we? Maybe the Saudis should return Mecca and Medina to the Jews since the Jews were there first. What do you say?

      January 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave - USA

    Arab Voice – WELL SAID !!!!

    As an American who previously believed the Zionist media 'spin' in the US, it took me 30 days of touring Jordan and Palestine (Jerusalem, Gaza, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jericho, etc.) to see the truth through the propaganda. The nuclear-armed Israelis are the problem in the Middle East. They have no interest in peace.

    The Palestinians and the American pawns (Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Turkey, Oman, Qatar, Morocco, etc.) should immediately BREAK ALL CONTACT WITH THE JEWS.

    Decades of history prove the Zionist Terrorists are back-stabbing, land-grabbing liars. Sadat and King Hussein caved and are traitors to all Arabs. Sadat got what he deserved.

    Now all oppressed Arabs need to treat their dictators the same way brave Tunisians treated the theif, Ben Ali.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      So the Lebanese are oppressed because of the Israelis? Before the Arabs took over Lebanon the Lebanese led a nice life and were friends of sorts with the Israelis. So the Iranians are oppressed because of the Israelis too? How about the Saudis(especially the women and minorities)? Israel is oppressing them as well? And I assume that Israel is responsible for oppression of the Afghans, the Pakistanis, the Christians in the Sudan and Somalia and Egypt. Of course the Muslims never ever oppress anyone. Muslims are responsible for literally hundreds of times more deaths of other Muslims than Israel has ever been. But hey, that doesn't count because it's not Israel's fault.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • crawbar

      Hi Art, your intelligent response falls on the ears attached to a stupid head.

      The style of your response makes me think that I know you from Amazon blog... Right?

      January 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JhP

    both sides are guilty. Though 'you must conform to arab law', rofl yea ok good luck with that one man.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Islam and the modern world don't mix, Islam has laws where if your religion is different froom Islam, that is a death penaty. lAs with the jtaliban which outlaw schools for women, because women are considered as dogs and unworthy of education, thats Islam for you. Hezbollah is just as bad as the taliban if not worse. Hezbollah killed the famous president of Lebanon for trying to promote democracy reforms, Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group for a reason, the reasonis that they are murderers, that why Iran who hates Israel funds hezbollah, so that Hezbollah can continue its murderous ways.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sf

    Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Remember what they did to us in Beirut in 1983? They're staging drills? We should kill them all while we have the opportunity. They're terrorists and have no respect for life. Why should we respect theirs?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ash

    I think Egypt should built a massive army and invade all the middel eastern countries, killing all who think they belong to a "group" put them all under one government for at least 200 years.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      What makes you think Egypt would do any better at governing the middle east? Keep dreaming.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terrorist Hater

    I love hearing people support Hezbollah. It really comes down to National pride. Germany's was at an all time low when Hitler and his party came into power. Now Germans spend their time repairing and apologizing for their grandparents going with the flow. Israeli's may not be saints, but it beat the alternative. Look at it in the most simple terms. Islam supports wife beating. It supports blinding school girls with acid (when anyone speaks about the Taliban being good for Afghans, they must not be part of the human race). Islamic law in purest form becomes archaic and completely inhumane. When it's on a moderate level, it can be a beautiful spiritual force. But just like Zionists are insane, so are extreme Muslims. You cannot tell them much apart when anyone goes to extremes in the middle east. And if you need to stage a coup because you want to avoid the truth about a a murder investigation, then how can that group support Democracy? It is the height of hypocrisy. And them people say what have they done to Europe or America? Hmm, I wonder if those people were around thinking the Taliban is not a big deal in the 80s and 90s when we helped rid them of the Russians. Whether Israel is this is this or that, it's Arab parents that are pulling their children from school because of ARABS. Not because of Israel. The State Department declared them Hezbollah terrorists because they are willing to attack civilians and more importantly, they HIDE BEHIND LEBANESE SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS DURING WAR! Anyone sympathizing with that type of organization is simply an rabid animal.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted w/warmongers

      Yadda, yadda, yadda...

      January 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Muhammad Aiye-Aish

    it's so very clear that 100% of the supporters of Israel absolutely hate the Arabs, i.e. the Lebanese, Palestinians, Muslims & such... And it's even more clear that the Lebanese, Palestinians, Muslims & such hate the Israeli's & Jews...
    BOTH SIDES SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES! After thousands of years, neither side has the strength to honestly seek forgiveness & truly offer 'an olive branch'
    I was raised a Shia Muslim, raised to
    Ha! The jokes on all of you.....
    I don't hate Jews, I don't hate Israeli's...
    Both the Arab's & Jews have tremendous blood on your hands!
    The Shia Muslims & The Zionest Ultra Fundamentalist Jews!
    YOUR BOTH WRONG & both of your groups time will come soon enough...

    January 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malek


      January 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Proud Shia

      Your last name is not even Lebanese kazib. Secondly, if you we're truly Shia, you would not have been told that. We are not wahabbis, we are fighting injustice from Israel and social injustice that has kept us in thirld world conditions since the new government that France set up

      January 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • crawbar

      Muhammad, you probably did not check replies to your previous post after I posted my response. Here is what I wrote:
      "Muhammad, you are so good and so courageous that it is even not easy to believe you are real. But I do know that people like you do live in Lebanon, my son had a Lebanese friend like you.
      As to this "Make them nomads", do not pay attention to him, he is just a piece of nomad's horse sh$t."

      A couple of comments on your last post.
      1. It is not correct to put the blame on both sides. The Arabs started the war the next day after declaration of the state of Israel and started discriminatory actions against their own Jewish population. It is difficult to love your neighbor in this situation. Israel was forced to fight as it was forced to fight in all subsequent Arab aggressions . You also cannot love people who call for your annihilation and subsidize the terror against you.
      2. As to blood on the hands of both Israelies and Arabs, that is not surprising, when you are at war, you kill one another and the blood happens to get on the hands of all the participants. When there is a bandid who attacks you and you stand up to him and kill him, the blood will be on the hands of both. But you should never forget who is the attacker and who is defending himself, otherwise you risk to lose the sight of what is going on.
      3. I think you are not right when you are equating zionists and shia extremist. What I see in you it is already too much to expect from a shia Muslim. To have your views on the conflict and not to hate other people Jews included – it is more than I could expect from a shia Muslim. Still traces of propaganda still have some risidue in you, I think. "Zionist" from the mouths of many Jew haters became like a label for Jewish terrorists. In fact, Zionism was a movement to go back to Jewish historical motherland in response to pogroms all around Europe and in other countries including Arab countries. Zionists do not call for killing or annihilation of anybody but they do stand for the right of Jews to have their own homeland where Jews can defend themselves. So, I wouldn't put Islamist terrorists in one company with Zionists.
      4. Another mistake of yours, and forgive me for calling it "mistake" because in this case I am sure it is, is when you say that you hate uneducated people on both sides. Education does not give a person intelligence. Stupid people when they become educated are the worst kind, they become more active with their stupidity. Many uneducated people show much more intelligence than the educated ones.

      Thanks for warming up my heart one more time by showing that there are good people even in the countries which went through terrible brainwashing. I wish there were more people like you in Arab countries.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phil

    The situation is Lebanon is far more complex than any US media outlet or affiliate will be able to report. This is a beautiful country with wonderful citizens that come from very diverse backgrounds, each one offering something unique that makes Lebanese culture so great. The political strife in Lebanon is truly heartbreaking because it is rooted in age-old conflicts between ethnic/religious sects, and it overshadows a citizenry that, on an individual basis, is one of the most hospitable, life-loving people I have ever come across. I love Lebanon and hope and pray that this country, which has finally started to return after devestating civil war, can persevere through this situation intact...or at least not destroyed.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peace in Lebanon

    Unfortunately, some people think that Hezbollah and his allies (specially the "crazy MIKE") will take over the capital and the country and they will dominate the government and rule the people the way they want. But, fortunately, there are still some good people in Lebanon that disagree with this situation, and want the country to be free and independent.
    I would say that Lebanon is a very unique country, because of the people who believes in FREEDOM and these people will say again NO to Hezbollah.

    God bless Lebanon.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Malek


    January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thisguyisgood

      And with that said I would just lke to add, really? The same Hezbollah that DIDn't get voted in by 60% of the population. The same group that so bravely hid in schools and behind children to save there own skins after they repeatedly attacked Isreal. I hope you can find the answers you are looking for I truly do. If you really wanted to help Lebannon you would stop your message of hate and violence, then you would prove to the world who the real enemies and bad people are.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
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