The Hezbollah-led opposition in Lebanon is looking for a big turnout today as it presses for the government’s downfall with a general strike. It has begun already, with hundreds of protestors blocking roads in the capital Beirut with burning tyres, including the only access to the airport. Police have shot and injured two people.
Security in Beirut has been stepped up ahead of the anticipated gathering of big crowds, and yesterday the opposition heard from their leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in only the Hezbollah boss’s second public appearance since the summer war with Israel;
“We will not be scared or retreat. No-one will terrify us in a civil war, and we will not be dragged into one”, he said.
Nasrallah claims the government wants civil war, and seeks partition of Lebanon, pitting his Shi’ite community against the Sunnis.
Prime Minister Siniora dismisses the opposition challenge, and is instead focussing on Thursday’s meeting in Paris. He is hoping to persuade the international community to give billions of euros in aid to rebuild what Lebanon lost last July and August.
Since December the first the government’s been under a virtual siege, with the opposition camped out in front of government headquarters, and regularly mobilising tens of thousands of supporters onto the streets.