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Hezbollah has collapsed Lebanon’s government and has issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Saad Hariri: Withdraw support for the U.N. Special Tribunal or be replaced. The terrorist group is fearful of the repercussions it faces from its impending indictment for killing former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and is holding Lebanon hostage.
The U.N. Special Tribunal has issued its sealed indictment that is believed to accuse high-level members of Hezbollah of carrying out the 2005 assassination, including the cousin of Imad Mughniyeh. One report suggests that the tribunal will state that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei ordered the murder and the Syrian regime was complicit in it. It will be six to ten weeks before arrest warrants are issued, but Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors are taking pre-emptive action.
Hezbollah withdrew from the government, bringing about its collapse and is demanding that Hariri no longer be prime minister. To form the next government, a bloc must have at least 65 members of parliament supporting it. Hezbollah currently has 57 and Hariri has 60 but Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has announced his support for Hezbollah, potentially tipping the balance in favor of the Shiite terrorist group.
His support for Hezbollah can be owed a desire to be on the winning side. He used to be fiercely anti-Hezbollah and a major opponent of Syria and Iran, but changed his tune in 2008 after Hezbollah made him a “hostage” in Beirut when clashes erupted. “Tell Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah I lost the battle and he wins. So let’s sit and talk to reach a compromise. All that I ask is your protection,” he said.
Jumblatt originally supported the U.N. tribunal but now says his “party will stand firm in support of Syria and the resistance [Hezbollah].” His other statements show that his position is based in a fear of Hezbollah. He said supporting Hariri for prime minister would have “catastrophic consequences” because “Hariri’s regional and international backers only resort to statements, while his opponents turn to all manners of military and popular pressure.”
Prime Minister Hariri now faces a predicament. His refusal to back down could cause Hezbollah to seize the country and engulf Lebanon in civil conflict. Already, grenades have been thrown at the offices of a Christian-led party aligned with Hezbollah and other acts of violence have happened. In 2008, Hezbollah took over half the country when the Lebanese government tried to dismantle its communication network and remove one of its spies as the security chief of the Beirut airport. Last week, the group practiced taking over Beirut and nearby airports and harbors.
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