What’s behind shootings in Beirut

October 15, 2021 - 21:20

TEHRAN – Lebanon took another step closer to a devastating civil war on Thursday after militants reportedly affiliated with a firebrand politician opened fire on peaceful demonstrators protesting against a judge whom they accuse of using last year’s blast at Beirut port to politically target Hezbollah and its allies. 

The episode began when Tarek Bitar, the judge who leads the investigation into the Beirut port blast, started to issue subpoenas for some Lebanese politicians to interrogate them about the August 2020 explosion which razed the port to the ground. These politicians accused the judge of exploiting his mandate as a tool to target and discredit them. 

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah warned about the Bitar-led investigation going astray. In a recent televised speech, the secretary openly cautioned that Bitar is misusing the investigation and that his efforts will lead nowhere. 

“We said from the beginning that we wanted to investigate the explosion of Beirut Port, and I say honestly if the families of the martyrs and the wounded abandon the investigation, we do not abandon it, and we consider that we are among those who have been morally, politically and media-affected,” Nasrallah said, adding, “The current judge, instead of learning from all the mistakes of the previous judge, on the contrary, completed these mistakes. And he went even further.”

Underlining that Bitar is politically motivated and has nothing to do with justice, the Hezbollah chief told the families of the victims, “You will not reach justice with Judge Bitar, who engages in politics and uses blood to serve political targets.”

On Thursday, a number of Lebanese people took to the streets to call for Bitar’s dismissal. The demonstrators suddenly came under fire while marching through a Beirut neighborhood close to the Ministry of Justice. At least seven people, including a woman, were killed and many others were wounded. For a while, Beirut seemed to be on the brink of another civil war as some of the demonstrators took up arms to defend themselves.

Most of the victims were Shi’ite and the accused was a political party claiming to be a representative of Christians. Hezbollah said the assailant were members of the Lebanese Forces Party.

Hashem Safi al-Din, head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, said the Lebanese Forces Party was seeking to incite a new civil war in Lebanon with help from the United States. “The Lebanese Forces Party meets the demand of the Americans for a handful of money,” he warned. 

Safi al-Din pointed out that the blood of the martyrs of Thursday's incident in Beirut would not be trampled on, adding that the incident was one of the actions managed by the U.S. embassy in Beirut.

Many observers believe that the party, led by Samir Geagea, seeks to carry out the next phase of the pressure campaign against Hezbollah after all U.S.-led efforts to remove Hezbollah from power came to naught. 

Over the last few years, the U.S. and its allies in the region, missed no opportunity to exert pressure on Hezbollah. They used everything in their power to cripple Lebanon’s economy and then blame the economic malaise on Hezbollah. But all their efforts failed to bear fruition and Hezbollah skillfully weathered the storm.

With Lebanon breaking the deadlock over forming a new government without bowing to U.S. dictates, all the pressures Washington put on Hezbollah over the last years seemed going up in smoke. 

While the new government of Lebanon is in an early stage of improving the situation, Geagea and his Forces created a crisis that Lebanon is in an urgent need to avoid. Hezbollah and its allies seem to be aware of the intention of Geagea to drag Lebanon into another civil war. They all urged restraint while underlining justice for the victims.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh underlined the importance of maintaining stability and peace in Lebanon and said Tehran believes that the people, government, and army, along with the Lebanese resistance, through their cohesion and unity, as always, will successfully and proudly overcome the seditions and conspiracies that have their roots in the Zionist regime and are planned and carried out by the masters and agents of this regime.

Leave a Comment

5 + 10 =