Ready to Blow
BEIRUT — After today’s “funeral for Pierre Gemayel”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2006/11/mourning_in_beirut.php, Lebanon is ready to blow.
Tonight, about 1,000 Shi’ite youths gathered along airport road and began protesting what they said were the insults made against Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah at the funeral this afternoon. (Saad Hariri more or less said the majority claimed by Hezbollah and others in the March 8 movement was a mirage.)
Soon, a crowd of Sunni youths gathered nearby, prompting a large response from the Lebanese security forces. Local Hezbollah officials told the Shi’ite crowd to go home, but they were ignored, prompting Nasrallah to call Manar TV, the group’s television channel, and issue a call for the crowd to disperse. That, too, initially seemed to be ignored, and it is only after several hours that the protestors drifted home.
In another worrisome development, in a Palestinian camp in the north of the country (I haven’t pinned down the name yet), camp residents clashed with Sunni extremists loyal to Jund al-Sham, a group with ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the slain leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
And finally, former Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa has withdrawn his resignation, meaning Ahmad Fatfat is no longer _acting_ interior minister. This is important because it increases the numbr of people in the Siniora cabinet who are full-fledged ministers. The cabinet is normally made up of 24 ministers, with 16 needed for a quorum. Last weekend, five Shi’ite ministers and a pro-Syrian Christian minister resigned, threatening the stability of the government. Then Pierre Gemayel was killed, bringing the number of absent ministers to seven. If two more ministerial seats became vacant, Siniora’s government would be automatically dissolved.
Since Fatfat was only an acting minister, there might be some legal justification to dissolve the government if only one more minister was removed. So by bringing Sabaa back, the March 14 forces are solidfying their position and hunkering down for a long fight.