Hizbollah is withdrawing from Beirut after the army overturned government measures that sparked a revolt by the Syrian-backed Shi’ite movement. The group had been in control of Muslim west Beirut after driving out pro-government militias in a battle lasting several days. It was the worst internal fighting in the capital since the 1975-1990 civil war.
The pullout came after the army said the head of security at Beirut airport could keep his job and that military commanders would handle Hizbollah’s communications network. These were the two issues underlying the violence.
The crisis has highlighted the weakness of of Prime Minister Fouad Sinioura anti-Syria cabinet. Before allowing the army to broker an end to the stand-off he had accused Hizbollah of staging a coup and trying to re-assert Damascus’s influence over the country.
The fighting that claimed at least 27 lives spread beyond Beirut, reigniting sectarian tensions in several areas. The street battles may have ended but Hizbollah has promised to continue a campaign of civil disobedience against the government until all its political demands are met.