In a live speech broadcast on Hizbu'llah's al-Manar Television and other Arabic language news station such as the Qatar-based al-Jazeera, Hizbu'llah leader Shaykh Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah [right] called for renewed protests against the government of embattled Prime Minister Fouad Siniora this Sunday. In a stinging rebuke of the governing coalition, which includes the Sunni Saad Hariri's Future Movement, the Druze socialist party of the hobbit-like Walid Jumblatt, and two radical Maronite parties (Phalange and Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces), Nasrallah accused them of collaboration with Israel during the July-August war.
Nasrallah did criticize Siniora [right] for what he alleged were covert attempts to collaborate with the Israeli government and disarm Hizbu'llah during the war (not that Lebanon's ineffectual military would be capable of doing so even if it wanted to.) The Hizbu'llah chief then warned Siniora and his allies that a time would come when the National Opposition would no longer be interested in forming a unity government with them, hinting that they would work to exclude them politically from a new government.
The bulk of Nasrallah's speech was spent urging the National Opposition's followers not to be lured into violence despite provocation by armed militias loyal to the governing coalition. AbuKhalil notes that in his opinion Nasrallah was clearly referencing the "Internal Security Forces" militia connected to Hariri's Future Movement, which was probably responsible for the shooting death of 20-year-old 'Ali Ahmad Mahmoud, a supporter of the secular Shi'i AMAL party of parliament speaker Nabih Berri [left]. Nasrallah said that his coalition would not be drawn into a civil war in which "everyone loses."
On Wednesday, Aoun [right] reiterated the coalition's determination to force Siniora to dissolve his cabinet and form a true unity government. ""If the prime minister and his camp continue to monopolize power, there will be an escalation of popular pressure," Aoun told Agence France Presse. "We will paralyze the government, we will force it to go into a deep coma...If Siniora wants to negotiate, he will have to present us some proposals, but we will not accept anything less than true power-sharing and a blocking minority share [in the government]."
It is particularly interesting to note that the National Opposition, led by Hizbu'llah, was not the side to respond first with violence, it was Saad Hariri's [left] supposedly enlightened pro-Western, democratic-minded Future Movement militia. Although if it came down to armed confrontations, Hizbu'llah, with an estimated 20,000 rockets and a well trained quasi-army, would fare quite well, it is not in the interest of either the party or Lebanese Shi'a to resort to violence. They have strength in numbers. They have a strong coalition with admittedly opportunistic Michel Aoun, the powerful and influential Maronite political leader and former warlord who is likely to continue supporting Hizbu'llah and AMAL as long as it suits his interests. Considering that the Shi'a are Lebanon's largest sectarian community, Aoun is likely to be a Hizbu'llah/AMAL ally for some time. The National Opposition only needs to keep up pressure on Siniora and his weakning coalition.
The actions of Hariri's supporters are clear signs of that coalition's growing desperation, despite their public shows of defiance. While Hizbu'llah and its allies have numbers and political will, Siniora, Hariri & Co. have empty oral support from the United States, which is bogged down in Iraq and unlikely to militarily support them, and lethargic Sunni Arab support from governments (e.g. Saudi Arabia) that are incapable of defending their own borders let alone militarily support Siniora. The shining light of the so-called 'Cedar Revolution' seems to be fading and the supposed Lebanese democratic politicians are becoming all the less democratic as the days pass.
The moral of this story so far, Mr. Siniora and Mr. Hariri? Don't ally yourself with people who don't really care about what happens to you, who see you as inherently backward, and only see you as a disposable pawn for a flawed, messianic, Orientalist doctrine.