Hezbollah members positioned themselves around the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday in a reported simulated coup of the capital as tensions in the country increased since Hezbollah pulled out of the government. Lebanese media reported that Hezbollah supporters wearing black and holding hand held radios positioned themselves at central sites in Beirut without making any public statement or press release. Word of the simulated coup spread and parents rushed to pick their children up from school fearing that there would be an outbreak in violence across the city.
Earlier this week, a draft indictment was submitted by the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The actions by Hezbollah are seen as a response to this, and the accusations that members of the organisation were involved in the assassination. The international tribunal will have to rely on the local police authorities to carry out any arrests based on the findings of the tribunal. However, Hezbollah has one of the strongest military forces in the country and it has already vowed that it will not allow any arrests of its members to be carried out.
In related news, Saudi Arabia who attempted to mediate the tension between the factions in Lebanon has withdrawn from the role, calling the situation “dangerous”. Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign minister coordinated a visit with Qatar’s prime minister on Tuesday in Beirut to discuss and assist with solving the political crisis. Speaking in the Knesset yesterday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, “Hezbollah is trying to drag Israel into the political quagmire of Lebanon, but Israel isn’t going to play into its hands. Israel regards the most recent events as a domestic Lebanese political situation, and we have no interest in getting involved.”
Further reading – BICOM Analysis: Crisis in Lebanon and implications for Israel