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The Lebanese People Come Together to Free Their Country from Hezbollah –

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By The Free Iranian Staff


Since last Thursday, October 17th, the streets of Beirut have erupted with crowds of everyday Lebanese citizens demanding the resignation of the Hezbollah-linked and Tehran-backed government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. These protests are furthermore remarkable because, in a society long-divided by religious and sectarian conflict, Sunni Muslims, Shi’a Muslims, Christians, and Druze are all joining together as Lebanese in order to regain control of their country.

The first protests were sparked by the Lebanese’s government’s proposal to impose a $.20 per day tax on online social media. Lebanon is currently in a state of financial crisis, and the government had been instituting a program of austerity measures. This crisis is in no small part related to the United States’ having re-imposed sanctions on the Tehran regime in the summer of last year. Tehran formerly used to give Hezbollah hundreds of millions of dollars a day, which it used to set up an expansive social service network, as well as a well-armed and well-trained militia, enabling it to become the predominant force in Lebanese politics. Now, however, with Tehran’s coffers drying up, it can no longer to finance Hezbollah as it did, and hence, it has had to resort to extorting from the Lebanese populace. Many everyday people, though, have had enough.

October 17th

Large crowds of protestors began assembling in Beirut’s Riad el Solh square to protest the Internet tax. Security forces tried to break the crowds up and stop the demonstration, but the protestors fought back, and barricaded themselves in by building walls of burning tires. They also blocked the roads to the city’s airport, set a construction site in the city ablaze, and broke into and torched a municipal office building. Dozens were said to have been injured in the fighting.

The protests began to have political effects almost immediately, as al Hariri’s cabinet, this evening, announced they would cancel the social media tax. The protests did not cease though, and instead the people began calling for the government to resign. Reports say smaller protests are starting in other parts of Lebanon. The government has declared tomorrow a holiday, in an attempt to reduce traffic on the streets.

October 18th

Through all of the night, the protesters in Beirut continued to burn anything they could lay their hands on, whether it be advertising billboards, construction material, tires. and trees. Some protesters removed street signs and used them as battering rams against advertising units and shop fronts, while young men on motorcycles rode over broken glass and started new conflagrations with bottles of gasoline. Clashes endured for the entirety of the day as protestors insisted they would not stop until Lebanon had a new government.

Similar clashes are occurring across the country, with thousands gathering in Tripoli’s main square. One protester died in Tripoli, after the private militia forces of a Hezbollah leader fired at a demonstration. The Lebanese army then arrested one of the Hezbollah shooters.

Saad al Hariri responded by announcing a 72-hour emergence program of economic relief, but it cannot gain approval unless Hezbollah, which holds the majority of positions in the cabinet, concurs. Hezbollah has of yet not made any public statement regarding the protests.

October 19th

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, gave a televised speech today, in which he expressed support for al Hariri’s government, asking it to not resign. He also threatened Lebanese officials, saying that there would be retaliations against those who joined the demonstrators. Commenters are noting that Nasrallah is frightened by the displays of national unity and religious diversity the protestors are showing in the streets, because; Hezbollah’s power, as a Shi’a minority group, is based on dividing sectarian elements against each other and then building up a coalition of fringe parties.

Meanwhile, in the streets, the crowds of demonstrators continued to grow, and the violence increased. The chants of the protestors now focused especially on Nasrallah, and Lebanon’s entire political elite. “All of them must go! Nasrallah is one of them!”

One hundred and thirty six people were arrested today, and many were brutally injured by the security forces. This evening, the police shot massive amounts of tear gas into Riad el Solh square, which momentarily broke up the protest. Then, however, they began gathering again, and this time they started more fires. The Lebanese army then issued a statement calling for calm and restraint on all sides, and for soldiers to not shoot at protestors.

Hezbollah militias then came out into the open, and began shooting directly at protestors, and attacking protest groups with clubs and knives. The people remained fighting, now openly screaming that they want a total revolution.

A Christian party that was part of al Hariri’s coalition left it, and the news was celebrated with fireworks at various protest sites.

October 20th

Overnight, Shi’a protesters in the south of the country ravaged estates owned by the wife of Nabih Berri, leader of the Shi’a Amal militia, and the long-time speaker the Lebanese parliament.

One million people marched in Beirut today, displaying no party flags, only their common Lebanese national banner.  The protests today were largely peaceful, and the crowds were in an exuberant mood. People played patriotic songs and danced in the streets, with some forming human chains while chanting for the government to be ousted. “The people demand the fall of the regime, you are all thieves!” Interestingly, some of the protestors told reporters that they sought a leader for Lebanon who would be a modernizing reformer in the vein of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

Labor unions announced that a general strike would begin tomorrow, and last until al Hariri resigned. 

October 21st

Protesters remained on the streets, but today, they organized themselves to begin cleaning up all the debris and garbage remaining after several days of fighting. Prime Minister al Hariri gave a speech claiming that he would institute anti-corruption reforms, but the crowds outside booed him and said they would not move until there was a genuine revolution in Lebanon.

In a surprise move, Shamil Roukoz, the son-in-law of Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, who’s a close ally of Hezbollah, joined the protesters.

The Lebanese army also announced that it would intervene if Hezbollah forces again attacked protestors.

After sundown, Hezbollah and Amal militiamen on motorcycles did come and try to strike the camped-out demonstrators, but the Army stood between them and the protestors, and forcefully pushed them back.

October 22nd

The protests have been continuous for six days now. This morning, the army reopened roads and intersections that had been blocked by Hezbollah. The Shi’a militiamen, however, are still trying to incite clashes by cutting electricity wires and pulling down transformer poles.

The demonstrations are now largely peaceful, though, and calm has returned to the streets. Most workplaces remain closed due to the general strike.

International observers are saying now that, whatever happens in Lebanon over the coming days, what has already happened, combined with other popular uprisings in the region such as the one in Iraq, proves that the Tehran regime is losing its grip over the areas it has exerted its dominance over.


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