The Lebanese People Come Together to Free Their Country from Hezbollah –
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.
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.
This is absolutely incredible. Massive fire in the most central crossroads of Beirut right now pic.twitter.com/DALiPOnudO
— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) October 17, 2019
#Lebanon Protests broke out in Beirut tonight against miserable economic conditions and a new gov tax on WhatsApp 📞 .
Large crowds to downtown, some protesting in style: pic.twitter.com/OaivG9gP0T
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 17, 2019
Absurd amount of tear gas into Riyadh Al-Solh. Beirut, Lebanon now pic.twitter.com/f1ZAa39Gt8
— benwedeman (@bencnn) October 18, 2019
Major protests in #Beirut the capital of #Lebanon against corruption were sparked by a tax on the popular messaging service @WhatsApp. Video below is of protesters surrounding the vehicle of Minister of Education Akram Chehayeb pic.twitter.com/g963ptvy4e
— Ahmed Alsalman (@AAlsalman91) October 17, 2019
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.
#Lebanon 🇱🇧: “the people want the fall of the regime!”
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) October 17, 2019
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.
— عبير. (@_Ax65) October 18, 2019
Special moment in downtown #Beirut earlier as religious figures (Shia, Sunni, Christian and Druze) passed through the crowd while holding hands. The main slogan of the protestors: “We are one” #LebanonProtests #لبنان_ينتفض pic.twitter.com/9DwzW6vLCT
— Julie Kebbi جولي الكبي (@JulieKebbi) October 18, 2019
VIDEO: Footage from protests in Beirut last night shows a woman kick an armed man as he threatens the crowd with a rifle. pic.twitter.com/mj6tC0XMY2
Roadblocks all around Beirut, Lebanon, masked guys on motorbikes stop and pour gasoline to keep the fires going. pic.twitter.com/W3WUZF9sqO
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) October 18, 2019
More violence from downtown Beirut as the Lebanese forces are firing smoke bombs at civilians. So far I’ve witnessed 3 critically injured.
Protesters are throwing fireworks at the government forces.
This will not end until the government is overthrown pic.twitter.com/7kyeAc3MzV
— هادي نصرالله (@HadiNasrallah) October 18, 2019
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.
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!”
Hezbollah claims it terrifies the Takfiris, Israel, the Arab Gov. and even the U.S
But Hezbollah leadership is terrified by the poor Shia demonstrators in its heartland in Nabatieh, Tyre and Baalbeck.#CedarsRevolution2019
— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) October 19, 2019
My beautiful #Lebanon rising up today as tens of thousands of Lebanese hit the streets to march against corruption, poverty and the oligarchic elite. 🇱🇧 ❤️ #LebanonProtests #Beirut pic.twitter.com/gA6yclilaD
— Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo) October 19, 2019
— Elie Fahed (@Elie_Fahed) October 19, 2019
“All of them means all of them, Nasrallah is one of them”
— Jamal Elshayyal جمال الدين الشيال (@JamalsNews) October 19, 2019
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.
Gebran Bassil’s ( @Gebran_Bassil) men (Nicolas shaar) threatens peaceful protesters with gunfire!
— Amjad Taha أمجد طه (@amjadt25) October 19, 2019
#lebanonprotest There’s a convoy of motorcycles with heavily armed militias waving huge Amal party (Extrimist backed by Hezbollah) flags driving towards downtown in Sour-Tyre city south Lebanon where the peaceful protestors R.#Lebanon
— Amjad Taha أمجد طه (@amjadt25) October 19, 2019
” Sour- Tyre city- south Lebanon , #hezbollah Iran-backed militants shot a live ammunition directly under the feet of a protester who said This is not how you deal with unarmed protesters – & the militias responded you better leave”.#ما_فيك_تنهب_وتهرب#امجد_طه pic.twitter.com/n6CrPX0Qkg
— Amjad Taha أمجد طه (@amjadt25) October 19, 2019
A Christian party that was part of al Hariri’s coalition left it, and the news was celebrated with fireworks at various protest sites.
— Lynn (@LynnShahrour) October 19, 2019
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.
— Hanin Ghaddar (@haningdr) October 20, 2019
Will the “Party of God” attack a “party of freedom”?
— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) October 20, 2019
Lebanese uprising , Hezbollah is doomed must go pic.twitter.com/8rUbADxttP
— bahram 52 (@bahman299) October 20, 2019
— Saad (@SaadAbedine) October 20, 2019
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.
Such beautiful scenes out of #Lebanon tonight. Protesters sing and dance, in typical Lebanese fashion, as the uprising against the corrupt elites and their oligarchic nepotism continues. From the capital of #Beirut to the northern city of #Tripoli. pic.twitter.com/8uh5bLfRKE
— Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo) October 20, 2019
— Joseph Haboush (@jhaboush) October 20, 2019
— Dashni Morad (@Dashni_Morad) October 20, 2019
Labor unions announced that a general strike would begin tomorrow, and last until al Hariri resigned.
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.
— mona saliba (@monasaliba) October 21, 2019
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) October 21, 2019
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.
Lebanese army has been deployed heavily between Beirut and its southern suburb after protesters, hoisting banners of Hezbollah and Amal tried to advance to Riad Solh. https://t.co/w30y78lLlr pic.twitter.com/Hr5u68efcN
Video shows Lebanese soldiers stopping Hezbollah and Amal supporters from approaching protesters near the entrance of downtown Beirut on the road leading to Martyrs’ Square.https://t.co/hllHaq1CbM pic.twitter.com/Ysfal5msVf
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) October 21, 2019
— Kareem Chehayeb | كريم (@chehayebk) October 21, 2019
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.
It’s confirmed: a “flood of videos” prove that Hezbollah has organized its “acrobatic-wing supporters” to bring down all electricity and lamp poles in Beirut as a means of repressing protests. Note the yellow flag (possibly Hezbollah shirt) as evidence. pic.twitter.com/H93H7iEVo7
— Nicholas Noe (@NoeNicholas) October 22, 2019
The demonstrations are now largely peaceful, though, and calm has returned to the streets. Most workplaces remain closed due to the general strike.
— Habib Battah (@habib_b) October 22, 2019
No signs of protests losing steam. Rallies from North to South. General strike, roads/banks closure, civil disobedience tom. pic.twitter.com/XQoQ5izwEM
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 22, 2019
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.
A real hero in Lebanon interrupted a live broadcast of Al Manar TV, Hizbollah affiliated, to demand a dancer – after a video of a belly dancer amidst protestors in front of Mohammad al Amin Mosque in Beirut went viral – to ask the world “where’s our dancer?” Salute. pic.twitter.com/Tyz7fGh3WG
— LiLSUFI m a y n e (@MoustafaAyad) October 22, 2019