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Political rhetoric fuels fears of new civil strife in Lebanon

ICC Note

Lebanon seems to be on the verge of civil war. Now is the time for all stakeholders to find peaceful settlement to political stalemate in the country.

February 11, 2008 Lebanon (IC News)-Fears that Lebanon’s political crisis may spill into the streets are mounting as armed incidents between rival clans multiply and politicians from the ruling coalition warn they stand ready for a showdown with the opposition.

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Instead of working to calm an already tense situation, politicians from both sides seem bent on fanning the flames of discord.

Two political heavyweights from the anti-Syrian majority, made up of Sunnis, Christians and Druze, have ratcheted up the rhetoric by saying they were ready for confrontation with the Iranian and Syrian-backed opposition.

“You want disorder? It will be welcomed. You want war? It will be welcomed. We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles. We will take them from you,” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt thundered on Sunday.

The head of the Future movement, Saad Hariri, a Sunni, said that if the country’s destiny was confrontation, they were ready.

This toughening of rhetoric amid an already delicate situation has translated into clashes on the streets of Beirut and its outskirts.

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Christian opposition leader General Michel Aoun on Monday accused the ruling majority of having created “a climate of fear which can trigger clashes at any moment and push the situation out of control.

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The number of violent incidents has increased sharply since January 27, when seven people were killed, including members of Hezbollah and Amal, south of Beirut when a street protest against powers cuts erupted into violence.

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Experts believe the current situation is not in immediate danger of descending into civil war, however.

“There will be a balance at the political level, with waves of violence here and there” because of the deadlock between the rival political factions, Barud added.

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Sessions to elect a successor to pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud have been postponed 14 times, with MPs now scheduled to meet on February 26.

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