A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 27-28/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 42th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For November 27-28/2019 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 41th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
November 27-28/2019

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 27-28/2019
*Meetings to designate Lebanon’s next PM may be postponed 48 hours
*Report: Travel of Some MPs Could Delay Consultations to Name PM
*Mothers, Residents of Ain el-Rummaneh, Shiyyah March Together after Unrest
*Berri Says Formation of Technocrats Govt. ‘Not an Option’
*Berri: Caretaker Govt. Should Meet, Billions Sent Abroad Must Return
*Lebanon’s House Speaker Berri: We are concerned with preserving democracy
*Sixteen people arrested after several violent incidents across Lebanon
*Economic Committees Call Off Strike as Gas Stations Close Indefinitely
*Labor Union Wants Emergency Govt. to Stop Deterioration
*Overnight clashes in Lebanon injure dozens as tensions rise
*Tripoli Protesters Call for Mass Rallies after Night of Tension
*113 Syrian Refugees from Lebanon Welcomed in Italy
*Lebanon Protesters Demand ‘Haircuts for the Rich’
*Civil movement young men in Tyre’s Alam Square affirm their ongoing sit in
*Banks Association: No strike tomorrow
*Gas Station Owners Syndicate announces strike as of tomorrow
*Protesters continue to flock to Halba’s Square despite rain
*Economic bodies suspend strike, to meet next week to discuss next steps
*Civil Movement activists continue sit in in Hermel
*Amid Protests in Lebanon, Financial Collapse and Security Concerns Loom
*Overnight Clashes in Lebanon Injure Dozens as Tensions Rise
*Second night of clashes in Lebanon amid anti-gov’t protests
*UN Experts, Amnesty Urge Lebanon Authorities to Protect Protesters
*Lebanon: UN experts decry incidents of excessive force against protesters

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 27-28/2019
Meetings to designate Lebanon’s next PM may be postponed 48 hours
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Binding consultations with MPs to designate Lebanon’s next prime minister may be postponed 48 hours, Lebanese media outlets reported on Wednesday. The meetings were originally to be held on Thursday, according to a report by Reuters on Tuesday citing sources at the Presidential Palace. The report came shortly after Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he has no intention of forming a new government, and urged President Michel Aoun to hold consultations to designate a new prime minister, in a statement released on Tuesday. Hariri resigned as Prime Minister in October after protests spread across the country. Protesters have been taking to the streets of Lebanon since October 17 and are fueled by deep resentment for a ruling class seen as mired in corruption and having driven the economy into crisis.

Report: Travel of Some MPs Could Delay Consultations to Name PM
Naharnet/Wednesday, 27 November, 2019
Amid reports that the binding parliamentary consultations will likely be held on Thursday, other reports said the consultations could be further delayed because some lawmakers were traveling abroad, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Wednesday. Baabda sources had said on Tuesday the consultations to name a new premier will be held on Thursday and the new government will not be a “confrontation government.”But today they said it “could be delayed because some lawmakers are not currently in Lebanon.”Said lawmakers allegedly belong to the Strong Lebanon bloc, according to reports. Well-informed said the tendency today is to form a cabinet of 20 ministers, and that it could be composed of 15 technocrat figures and 4 politicians.

Mothers, Residents of Ain el-Rummaneh, Shiyyah March Together after Unrest
Naharnet/Wednesday, 27 November, 2019
Mothers and residents of the Beirut suburbs of Ain el-Rummaneh and Shiyyah on Wednesday marched together in a solidarity rally, following overnight unrest in the area.The gathering started outside the landmark Sannine Roastery in Ain el-Rummaneh at the invitation of Lebanese mothers and women who called for rejecting “all the scenes that the streets witnessed over the past two days” and denouncing “segregation and the return to the rhetoric of frontlines and war.”The demonstrators carried Lebanese flags, banners and white roses amid heavy media coverage and security measures by the army and the Internal Security Forces.After chanting the national anthem, the women and residents chanted against civil war and called for national unity. “We, the mothers of the country won’t accept its segregation”, one of the banners read. The demonstrators then marched towards the Asaad al-Asaad street in Shiyyah, where they were welcomed with cheering and clapping, as women threw rice on them from balconies. Residents of Shiyyah joined the demo at this point and voiced similar calls for unity. Many of those who took part in the unity move noted that the two neighborhoods’ residents have coexisted for decades and that the two areas have become largely mixed in terms of residence, markets and social activities. Overnight confrontations in several Lebanese regions, mostly fistfights and stone throwing, injured dozens of people. Stone-throwing clashes took place between young men from Shiyyah and the adjacent Ain el-Rummaneh and were quickly contained by the army. The trouble began after a video circulated on WhatsApp showing Ain el-Rummaneh residents insulting Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. The clip was later shown to be several years old. Tensions regularly erupt in this area which saw the first clashes of the 1975-1990 civil war. A shooting in Ain el-Rummaneh in April 1975 triggered the 15-year war that killed nearly 150,000 people.

Berri Says Formation of Technocrats Govt. ‘Not an Option’
Naharnet/Wednesday, 27 November, 2019
As the country grapples with nationwide protests now demanding the formation of a technocratic government, Speaker Nabih Berri said forming a cabinet of purely technocrat figures was off the table, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. “We have to form a political-technocratic government. A purely technocrat cabinet is out of the question,” Berri said in remarks to the daily. Berri reiterated: “In general we back a government of technocrats and politicians, it won’t matter if the number of politicians were more or less than the number of technocrats, it is crucial that the government be formed to proceed and rescue the country. Asked who would he name for the premiership during the binding parliamentary consultations with the President, he said: “We will make our position clear at the consultations, and of course we have to see the (nominee’s) work plan.” The name of Samir Khatib, the director general of the Khatib & Alami engineering firm, emerged Tuesday as a strong candidate for the PM post. He announced that he is willing to form the new government should there be “consensus” on his nomination. Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri openly declared Tuesday that he is withdrawing his candidacy for the premiership. The announcement comes nearly a month after he resigned amid ongoing protests as well as a severe economic and financial crisis. The nationwide anti-government protests erupted on October 17 and have since targeted corruption and mismanagement by the country’s ruling elite.

Berri: Caretaker Govt. Should Meet, Billions Sent Abroad Must Return
Naharnet/Wednesday, 27 November, 2019
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday said that the caretaker cabinet should have convened amid the extraordinary circumstances in the country. “The situation is very dangerous and we don’t have the luxury of time,” Berri said during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting with MPs, wondering why the caretaker cabinet “has not performed its duties.”“Don’t the necessities require the convention of the cabinet to run the affairs of the country and its citizens instead of leaving them suspended?” Berri added. Separately, Berri called for “the return of the funds that were sent abroad to Lebanon,” noting that they are worth “billions of dollars.”“The economic and financial situations can improve once a new government is formed,” he said.

Lebanon’s House Speaker Berri: We are concerned with preserving democracy
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Lebanon’s Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri claimed on Thursday to be concerned with preserving democracy and criticized the “dictatorship” of the streets in an appearance on al-Manar TV. “Dictatorship should not be practiced on the streets or in institutions,” said Berri, who claimed that “we” are concerned with the preservation of democracy. “There is no room for leisure and we are surprised that the resigning government is not fulfilling its duties,” he added. Berri made the comments to al-Manar TV, which is affiliated with Iran-backed Hezbollah, amid ongoing protests in Lebanon. Berri, who leads the Shia political party Amal, has previously criticized the protests and men waving Amal flags have joined Hezbollah supporters in attacking protesters on several occasions.

Sixteen people arrested after several violent incidents across Lebanon
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Sixteen people were arrested in connection to violent incidents that took place Tuesday night in several Lebanese regions, said the Lebanese Armed Forces on Twitter. Public property was vandalized in the northern city of Tripoli, as well as several banks, and a building belonging to one of the political parties, according to a statement released by the army on Wednesday. The statement also said that 33 soldiers were injured by Molotov cocktails and stones which were thrown at the soldiers. A grenade that didn’t explode was also thrown. Several motorcycles were confiscated after being left behind by those who fled the scene, added the statement. Meanwhile in other regions of the country, over 18 soldiers were injured by stones and physical altercations while attempting to restore order and reopen several roads. Order has been restored in various areas throughout Lebanon, said the statement. An investigation has been initiated into the detainees under the supervision of a special judiciary.

Economic Committees Call Off Strike as Gas Stations Close Indefinitely
Naharnet/November 27/2019
The Economic Committees, a grouping of Lebanon’s business leaders and owners of major firms, on Wednesday called off a strike they had called for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as the Syndicate of Gas Station Owners declared an open-ended strike in protest at the ongoing dollar shortage crisis.
The Committees said their decision comes after “a lot of requests from private companies, which said that they need every day of work in order to cover their operational costs after the major losses that they suffered.”
They also noted that the strike would have coincided with the Black Friday shopping days. The Syndicate of Gas Station Owners meanwhile declared an open-ended strike starting Thursday morning, accusing the central bank and oil importers of failing to honor an agreement on allowing station owners to pay in Lebanese lira amid a dollar shortage in the country. The Syndicate has staged several strikes in recent months over the same crisis.

Labor Union Wants Emergency Govt. to Stop Deterioration
Naharnet/November 27/2019
General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL) on Wednesday said an emergency government must be formed before the country “collapses” entirely, resenting the unfair dismissal of employees in several sectors. “An emergency government must be formed to save the country from further deterioration,” said CGTL Vice President Hassan Faqih at a press conference. He expressed surprise that the caretaker government has not convened since the resignation of the PM on October 29, to handle the livelihood matters. Lebanon is grappled with nationwide protests ongoing since October 17 and demanding an overhaul of the entire political class. Turning to the economic crisis compelling businesses to dismiss employees, he said: “Arbitrary dismissal of employees in various sectors is a dangerous matter.”

Overnight clashes in Lebanon injure dozens as tensions rise
Arab News/November 27/2019
BEIRUT: Dozens of people were injured in overnight confrontations between supporters and opponents of Lebanon’s president, most of them in fistfights and stone throwing that erupted in cities and towns across the country, the Lebanese Red Cross said Wednesday.
The nationwide uprising against the country’s ruling elite has remained overwhelmingly peaceful since it began on Oct. 17. But as the political deadlock for forming a new government drags on, tempers are rising. President Michel Aoun has yet to hold consultations with parliamentary blocs on choosing a new prime minister after the government resigned a month ago. Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was Aoun’s and Hezbollah’s favorite candidate to lead a new Cabinet, withdrew his candidacy for the premiership, saying he hoped to clear the way for a solution to the political impasse after over 40 days of protests. Protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics in an effort to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government. The prolonged deadlock is awakening sectarian and political rivalries, with scuffles breaking out in areas that were deadly frontlines during the country’s 1975-90 civil war. The violence first began on Sunday night after supporters of the main two Shiite groups, the militant Hezbollah and Amal Movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, attacked protesters on Beirut’s Ring Road. That thoroughfare had in the past connected predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the city’s west with Christian areas in the east.Some of the most intense clashes occurred Tuesday night between the Shiite suburb of Chiyah and the adjacent Christian area of Ein Rummaneh, where stones were hurled between supporters of Hezbollah and rival groups supporting the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces. A shooting in Ein Rummaneh in April 1975 triggered the 15-year civil war that killed nearly 150,000 people.
Also on Tuesday night, supporters and opponents of Aoun engaged in fistfights and stone throwing in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest, injuring 24 people; seven were taken to the hospital. In the mountain town of Bikfaya, 10 people were injured including five who were hospitalized after scuffles and stone throwing between Aoun’s supports and supporters of the right-wing Christian Lebanese Phalange Party, according to the Red Cross paramedic group. The violence broke out after a convoy of dozens of vehicles carrying Aoun supporters drove into the town, which has been historically a Phalange stronghold. “What happened yesterday was a mobile strife that intentionally tried to provoke our people,” said Phalange leader, legislator Samy Gemayel. “We warn our people that there are attempts to attack their revolution, which should remain peaceful.”Hezbollah and Amal supporters also attacked protesters in the northeastern city of Baalbek and the southern port city of Tyre. Police and troops deployed in the areas of clashes and got the situation under control hours after the violence broke out.
Hariri had resigned on Oct. 29 in response to the mass protests ignited by new taxes and a severe financial crisis. His resignation met a key demand of the protesters but plunged the country into uncertainty, with no clear path to resolving its economic and political problems.
Hariri had insisted on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hezbollah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians. For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters, in stark contrast to Iraq, where police have killed more than 340 people over the past month in a bloody response to similar protests.

Tripoli Protesters Call for Mass Rallies after Night of Tension
Naharnet/November 27/2019
Anti-government protesters in the northern city of Tripoli have called for mass rallies on Wednesday after a night of tension that left many individuals injured as Lebanon’s uprising enters day 42. Tension heightened in Tripoli at night on Tuesday. Residents asserted that a group of people from outside Tripoli wreaked havoc at night in the city, they told MTV reporter. “They won’t scare us out of the streets,” the people shouted angrily stressing that a “fifth column” intervened to sabotage the peaceful demonstrations in the north’s capital. A group of men smashed the ATMs of Fransabank and MedBank and burned the latter’s in Tripoli’s street of Gemayzet, the National News Agency reported. In a statement, the Lebanese army said four individuals were arrested in Gemayzet after attacking the offices of a political party and a bank. One of the men tossed a hand grenade at the troops that did not explode. A soldier was injured by stones tossed by demonstrators and two motorbikes were confiscated, said the statement. Reports said supporters of President Michel Aoun clashed with opponents in the city of Tripoli and in the mountain town of Bikfaya injuring 34. Tripoli has been a hotspot of the anti-government protests and become known as “the bride of the revolution” for its festive night-time rallies. Tripoli has emerged as a festive nerve centre of anti-graft demonstrations across Lebanon since October 17. The massive nationwide protests against the country’s ruling elite remained overwhelmingly peaceful since they began last month. But as the political deadlock for forming a new government drags on, tempers are rising.

113 Syrian Refugees from Lebanon Welcomed in Italy
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 27/2019
More than a hundred Syrian refugees arrived in Rome on Wednesday, the latest wave of refugees from the war-torn country to be escorted to safety in Europe. The 113 men, women and children arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino airport from Lebanon where church groups had arranged their safe passage out of refugee camps. “Viva Italy,” shouted the approximately 30 children among the group, as a host families and volunteers greeted the new arrivals — some of them family members — with smiles and tears. “These kids have only known the war and refugee camps. But now they’ll have a future in Italy,” said Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which together with the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the Waldensian Evangelical Church, organized and financed the safe passage. Since 2016, the groups have together brought over 3,000 Syrians to Italy, France, Belgium and Andorra, 1,800 of them to Italy alone.
For the new arrivals, the network provides housing and organizes schooling for children as well as language classes. Within about a year, most families have begun to integrate into society, organizers say. One, Rola Alattal, 20, came to Italy a year and five months ago with her immediate family, and was again at the airport on Wednesday to greet her uncle, a beaming Ibrahim Bitar, and his young family. “Things were getting a bit bad for him in Syria,” said Alattal, explaining how Bitar escaped to Lebanon after being pressured to join the Syrian army two years ago. But without documents, he couldn’t work and his situation became more desperate. Another new arrival, Bushra Alkanj, 26, was to travel to Padua to live with other young women, since she had arrived alone without family.
“Just like the others here, we’re excited to go to our new home,” said Alkanj.
Alkanj left her home and family in 2012 in Syria for Lebanon, where she continued to study and volunteer to help other exiled Syrians. “But like so many other Syrians in Lebanon the situation is getting worse and so I was forced to ask for help,” said Alkanj. “Now I feel safe, I’m in Italy.”
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions, mostly to Turkey and Lebanon, since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wants to repatriate some of the 3.6 million Syrians in the country to a “safe zone” in northern Syria, a move humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International say amounts to sending them back to a war zone. Last month, Erdogan threatened to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe, increasing fears of a new wave of migrants.
Organizers of Wednesday’s safe passage expressed concern, saying governments were increasingly impeding humanitarian groups’ work, with the result that refugees were even more desperate. “People are more afraid, they’re risking more, their lives,” said Christiane Groeben, vice president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy.”When government people say … that the numbers (of migrants arriving in Europe) have gone down, they have gone down because more people have drowned,” said Groeben, referring to migrants, including Syrians, who continue to take the perilous sea route for Europe.
“You’re not allowed to save them anymore.”

Lebanon Protesters Demand ‘Haircuts for the Rich’
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 27/2019
Lebanese anti-government protesters lined up for free haircuts outside the central bank in Beirut Wednesday in a symbolic plea to make the rich pay and help rescue an economy in freefall. “We’re here to teach them what a good haircut looks like,” said 34-year-old Rebecca Saade, waiting for a volunteer barber to snip away at her short brown hair. She was among dozens of activists to have their locks trimmed in the latest of a wave of colorful protests to sweep the small Mediterranean country since October 17. “The economic crisis is what pushed us into the revolution,” said master’s student Racha, 24, drinking a coffee after she spent a chilly night in a tent outside the bank building. Lebanese of all political and religious backgrounds have taken to the streets, angered by poor governance and corruption as well as by an economic downturn, bank closures and a dollar shortage that sparked mass capital flight.
Amid the turmoil, the government resigned on October 29, but the bitterly divided leadership has since failed to agree on the new cabinet desperately needed to implement economic reforms. Protesters demand that measures to redress the economy do not unduly impact the poor but instead draw money from the richest, many of whom they accuse of corruption. “It has to be done to the top financiers who have benefitted from corruption until now,” Saade said just before sitting under a black barber’s cape. “The haircut should not be on us, especially since in the first few weeks they let all the biggest depositors take out all their capital,” she said.Around her, dozens waved flags and chanted, seeking to grab the attention of the central bank chief, whose stenciled portrait with devil’s horns had been spray-painted onto a nearby wall.
Economic downturn
The World Bank says about a third of Lebanese live in poverty, and that this could soon rise to half. Lebanon also has a yawning wealth gap, according to the World Inequality Database. The top one percent of the population control nearly 25 percent of national income, while the bottom half have little more than 10 percent. The recent unrest has accelerated the downturn and sent the economy into “freefall”, according to Maha Yahya, director of think tank the Carnegie Middle East. Debt-saddled Lebanon has had a liquidity crisis since September, with banks rationing the supply of dollars. As a result, the exchange rate in the parallel market has shot up from the pegged rate of 1,507 pounds to the greenback to more than 2,000. Fear of financial collapse drove capital flight, experts said in a Carnegie Middle East paper this month. Some $800 million appeared to have left the country from October 15 to November 7, a period during which the banks were mostly closed. Parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday called for the money moved abroad to be returned, the National News Agency said.
– ‘Bridge trust gap’ –
Meanwhile Lebanon still lacks a functioning government. Outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri said Tuesday he would not head the next government, in a move intended to speed up cabinet formation. Protesters want a government made up only of technocrats not affiliated to traditional political parties, but analysts say that is a tall order. They say a mixed cabinet of experts and political candidates — or independents picked by political parties — might be more likely. A fresh name has been floated as a possible new premier — that of businessman and engineer Samir Khatib — but Racha said she had never heard of him. “Right now we really need someone whose specialty is the economy,” the protester said. Analyst Yahya said that, to revive the economy, any new cabinet would have to “bridge the trust gap with the international community — but more importantly with the street.”

Civil movement young men in Tyre’s Alam Square affirm their ongoing sit in
NNA/November 27/2019
Civil Movement young men in Tyre’s Al Alam Square have affirmed the continuation of their peaceful sit-in until their demands are met.
The young men stressed that they shall spare no means to protest and demonstrate in a peaceful manner, along with the people in Tyre and the South.

Banks Association: No strike tomorrow
NNA/November 27/2019
The Board of Directors of the Banks Association, which convened this Wednesday afternoon, decided “not to strike and to consider tomorrow a regular working day.”

Gas Station Owners Syndicate announces strike as of tomorrow
NNA/November 27/2019
Gas Station Owners Syndicate on Wednesday announced in a statement an open-ended strike to begin as of tomorrow morning [Thursday] across all Lebanese territories. The Syndicate said the strike came due to the losses sustained by this sector as a result of the presence of two dollar exchange rates in the Lebanese market,, and the failure of both parties of the agreement,, the Central Bank and petroleum importing companies, to commit to its terms.

Protesters continue to flock to Halba’s Square despite rain

NNA/November 27/2019
protesters continued to flock to Halba’s Square despite rain, calling for the formation of a national rescue government and the restoration of public looted funds. Protesters also called for the formation of a government made up of dignitaries enjoying integrity, and called for holding the corrupt accountable.

Economic bodies suspend strike, to meet next week to discuss next steps
NNA/November 27/2019
The Lebanese Economic bodies issued this Wednesday the following statement:
“After the many comments received by the economic bodies on private enterprises’ need for each and every working day to compensate for their operation expenses after the large losses they incurred and which threaten their survival, and in a bid to avoid adverse results to the objectives of the strike and maintain the continuity of private institutions’ work (…) at the service of the national economy, under the extremely difficult circumstances faced by our country, and since the strike scheduled for November 28, 29 and 30 coincides with the dates of payment of employees’ salaries on the one hand, and with the ‘Black Friday’ shopping days, (…) and after wishing on the Banks Association to align its position with that of economic bodies, the latter decided to suspend its general strike and will convene at the beginning of next week to decide on the appropriate steps.”

Civil Movement activists continue sit in in Hermel
NNA/November 27/2019
Civil Movement protesters on Wednesday gathered in front of the government Serail in Hermel, holding the Lebanese flags and chanting national anthems. Protesters affirmed the continuation of their sit-in until a technocratic government if formed and the corrupt are held accountable.
Internal Security Forces are maintaining order in said square.

Amid Protests in Lebanon, Financial Collapse and Security Concerns Loom
Naharnet/November 27/2019
Amid a political impasse after more than 40 days of protests, sectarian and political rivalries are awakening in Lebanon, with scuffles breaking out daily, including in areas that were deadly front lines during the country’s 1975-90 conflict.
The tiny Mediterranean country is also reeling under the worst financial crisis in decades with unprecedented capital controls, and as tempers flare, there are real concerns Lebanon could be sliding toward a prolonged period of instability.
“We are standing before two dangers that are racing with each other, the danger of financial collapse and the danger of security collapse. It is an unprecedented situation,” said Nabil Bou Monsef, deputy editor-in-chief of the An-Nahar newspaper.
Overnight confrontations Tuesday in several Lebanese regions, mostly fistfights and stone throwing, injured dozens of people and 16 people were detained for their involvement, the Lebanese Red Cross and the army said Wednesday.
President Michel Aoun has yet to hold consultations with parliamentary blocs on choosing a new prime minister after the government resigned a month ago.
Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was Aoun’s and Hizbullah’s favorite to lead a new Cabinet, withdrew his candidacy for the premiership, saying he hoped to clear the way for a solution to the political impasse after over 40 days of protests. Protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government.
The most recent violence first began Sunday night after supporters of Hizbullah and the AMAL Movement attacked protesters on Beirut’s Ring highway. During the civil war, that thoroughfare had connected predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the city’s west with Christian areas in the east.
A standoff meanwhile took place Tuesday night between people in the Shiite suburb of Shiyyah and the adjacent majority Christian area of Ain el-Rummaneh, where stones were hurled between supporters of Hizbullah and residents and rival groups supporting the Lebanese Forces. A shooting in Ain el-Rummaneh in April 1975 triggered the 15-year civil war that killed nearly 150,000 people. Also on Tuesday night, unknown rioters clashed with the army in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest, injuring 24 people. Seven were hospitalized.
In the mountain town of Bikfaya, 10 people were injured, including five who were hospitalized, after scuffles and stone throwing between Aoun’s supporters and supporters of the Kataeb Party, according to the Red Cross. The violence broke out after a convoy of dozens of vehicles carrying Aoun supporters drove into the town, which has been historically a Kataeb stronghold.
On Thursday, about 300 women marched on the former front line between Ain el-Rummaneh and Shiyyah after meeting each other in the middle and exchanging white roses. Some held banners that read: “All one nation” and “All one pain.”
“No to civil war!” they shouted. But in the absence of a government and any political solution, analysts say more turmoil and instability is inevitable.
“I expect more chaos. As long as the country is without political cover, it is subjected to dangers. There is no government and there is complete failure in the constitutional process of forming a government,” Bou Monsef said.
The growing security concerns also reflect a fast deteriorating financial crisis in a country that is among the most indebted in the world. Amid dollar shortages, Lebanese banks have imposed unprecedented financial controls to preserve liquidity, further paralyzing the country and forcing up prices amid fears of financial collapse.
Businesses and households have been thrown into disarray. Residents say they don’t know how they will come up with dollar payments needed to pay for tuition, health insurance and housing loans. Companies are struggling to transfer salaries to staff, others have cut salaries or are simply laying off employees.
Some experts have suggested that a so-called haircut, in which the state takes a cut of depositors’ money to cover its debts, is inevitable to deal with the crisis. Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh has denied this was an option.
On Wednesday, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Central Bank in Beirut’s commercial Hamra district, calling for fiscal measures that will not affect small depositors and the poor. Next to them, barbers and hairdressers were giving men and women free haircuts amid concerns about depositors’ savings.
“They are imposing on us certain restrictions where people are not able to purchase medicine, and are unable to go to the hospital, while the big businessmen are able to transfer their money,” said Rebecca Saadeh, a protester, as a hair dresser cut her hair.
“People are desperate to get dollars to pay their rent or to buy food, which is spiking fabulously and then they accused us of protesting,” she said.
The Lebanese Army said in a statement that 16 people involved in the violence were detained, adding that 33 troops were injured in Tripoli after soldiers were hit with stones and molotov cocktails. It added that 10 other soldiers were injured as they separated crowds in Shiuyah and Ain el-Rummaneh, while eight were injured in Bikfaya.
Clashes between protesters and supporters of Hizbullah and AMAL are putting Lebanon’s military and security forces in a delicate position, threatening to crack open the country’s dangerous fault lines amid a political deadlock.
Hariri had resigned Oct. 29 in response to the mass protests ignited by new taxes and the severe financial crisis. His resignation met a key demand of the protesters but plunged the country into uncertainty, with no clear path to resolving its economic and political problems.
Hariri had insisted on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hizbullah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians. Bou Monsef said Hizbullah believes that a Cabinet comprised of technocrats that excludes the group would be a gift for America, which wants to keep it out of government. “Some are betting, especially the parties of the state, that the more the uprising is weakened the conditions that Hariri has put will weaken as well,” said Mustafa Alloush, an official with Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement.

Overnight Clashes in Lebanon Injure Dozens as Tensions Rise
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 27 November, 2019
Overnight confrontations between supporters and opponents of Lebanon´s president – mostly fistfights and stone throwing – erupted in cities and towns across the country, injuring dozens of people, and 16 people were detained for their involvement, the Lebanese Red Cross and the army said Wednesday. The nationwide uprising against the country´s ruling elite has remained overwhelmingly peaceful since it began Oct. 17, but as the political deadlock for forming a new government drags on, tempers have risen. President Michel Aoun has yet to hold consultations with parliamentary blocs on choosing a new prime minister after the government resigned a month ago.
Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was Aoun´s and the militant Hezbollah´s favorite to lead a new Cabinet, withdrew his candidacy for the premiership, saying he hoped to clear the way for a solution to the political impasse after over 40 days of protests. Protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government. The prolonged deadlock is awakening sectarian and political rivalries, with scuffles breaking out in areas that were deadly front lines during the country´s 1975-90 civil war.
The most recent violence first began Sunday night after supporters of the two main Shiite groups, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, attacked protesters on Beirut´s Ring Road. That thoroughfare had in the past connected predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the city´s west with Christian areas in the east.
Intense clashes took place Tuesday night between people in the Shiite suburb of Chiyah and the adjacent Christian area of Ein Rummaneh, where stones were hurled between supporters of Hezbollah and rival groups supporting the Christian Lebanese Forces. A shooting in Ein Rummaneh in April 1975 triggered the 15-year civil war that killed nearly 150,000 people. Also on Tuesday night, supporters and opponents of Aoun engaged in fistfights and stone throwing in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon´s second largest, injuring 24 people; seven were hospitalized.
In the mountain town of Bikfaya, 10 people were injured, including five who were hospitalized, after scuffles and stone throwing between Aoun´s supporters and supporters of the right-wing Christian Lebanese Phalange Party, according to the Red Cross. The violence broke out after a convoy of dozens of vehicles carrying Aoun supporters drove into the town, which has been historically a Phalange stronghold.
“What happened yesterday was a mobile strife that intentionally tried to provoke our people,” said Phalange leader and legislator Samy Gemayel. “We warn our people that there are attempts to attack their revolution, which should remain peaceful.” Hezbollah and Amal supporters also attacked protesters in the northeastern city of Baalbek and the southern port city of Tyre. Police and troops deployed in the areas of the clashes and got the situation under control hours after the violence broke out. The Lebanese army said in a statement that 16 people involved in the violence were detained, adding that 33 troops were injured in Tripoli after soldiers were hit with stones and molotov cocktails. It added that 10 other soldiers were injured as they separated crowds in Chiyah and Ein Rummaneh, while eight were injured in Bikfaya.
“Army units returned conditions to normal in all areas and the detainees are being questioned,” the army said. Hariri had resigned on Oct. 29 in response to the mass protests ignited by new taxes and a severe financial crisis. His resignation met a key demand of the protesters but plunged the country into uncertainty, with no clear path to resolving its economic and political problems. Hariri had insisted on heading a government of technocrats, while his opponents, including Hezbollah, want a Cabinet made up of both experts and politicians. For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters.

Second night of clashes in Lebanon amid anti-gov’t protests
Aljazeera/November 27/2019
Hezbollah and Amal supporters reportedly attack demonstrators in Beirut and southern town of Tyre.
Clashes have erupted between protesters calling for an overhaul of the political system and supporters of the main Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal amid reports of gunfire in some parts of Lebanon, according to local media.
For the second consecutive day, security forces intervened in a bid to break up confrontations late on Monday between the groups’ supporters and demonstrators protesting against Lebanon’s political elite.
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The violence is threatening to tip largely peaceful demonstrations directed at the country’s government and its ruling officials in a more bloody direction.
A video posted by Lebanese broadcaster LBCI showed heavy gunfire around Cola bridge in the capital, Beirut. The source of the gunfire was not immediately clear. No injuries were reported. Separately in Beirut, two protesters were reportedly wounded after Hezbollah and Amal supporters attacked demonstrators there.
In the southern town of Tyre, supporters of Hezbollah and Amal tore up protest tents and set them on fire, prompting security forces to intervene and fire into the air, according to Lebanese media.
Lebanon has faced five weeks of anti-government protests, fuelled by anger at corruption among the sectarian politicians who have governed the country for decades. Demonstrators want them all to leave office.
Supporters of Amal and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have occasionally sought to break up the demonstrations and clear roads cut off by protesters. Last month, they destroyed a main protest camp in central Beirut.
The groups were both represented in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned on October 29 after the protests began. They had opposed Hariri’s resignation.
In a statement, Hariri’s Future Movement warned its supporters to refrain from protesting and stay away from large gatherings to “avoid being dragged into any provocation intended to ignite strife”.
Groups of men on motorcycles, some waving Amal and Hezbollah flags, were seen roving streets in Beirut and Tyre, according to witnesses and videos broadcast on Lebanese media.
Separately, two people were killed when their car slammed into a traffic barrier on a coastal road on Monday, sparking criticism from Hezbollah and others of protesters who cut off roads as a primary tactic to keep up the pressure.
The confrontations were some of the worst since protests erupted in Lebanon, a country that is facing the worst economic strains since its 1975-1990 civil war.
There are widespread concerns over Lebanon’s deteriorating economy and a shortage of US dollars.
Reporting from Beirut, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said that the shortage was “causing a crisis”.
“The [Lebanese] economy doesn’t rely on the local currency, the lira, importers pay in dollars and many businesses demand payment in the US currency,” she said.
The UN Security Council on Monday urged all actors in Lebanon to engage in “intensive national dialogue and to maintain the peaceful character of the protests” by respecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
Calling this “a very critical time for Lebanon,” the UN’s most powerful body also commended Lebanon’s armed forces and state security institutions for their role in protecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
Overnight Sunday, Hezbollah and Amal supporters attacked demonstrators with stones, tore down protesters’ tents and damaged storefronts in the capital, Beirut.
“Shia, Shia, Shia!” Hezbollah supporters waving the group’s yellow flag shouted, taunting the protesters, who chanted back, “This is Lebanon, not Iran,” and “Terrorist, terrorist, Hezbollah is a terrorist”.
At least 10 demonstrators were wounded in the clashes, according to the civil defence.
The consecutive nights of clashes have raised fears that some groups may turn to violence in an attempt to break up the protest movement, while displaying the political and sectarian divisions that protesters say they want to put an end to.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/night-clashes-lebanon-anti-gov-protests-191126062640907.html

UN Experts, Amnesty Urge Lebanon Authorities to Protect Protesters
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 27 November, 2019
UN human rights experts and Amnesty warned Tuesday that Lebanese authorities were failing to protect protesters, following attacks on demonstrators by government supporters. The authorities have “failed to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks by others”, said a statement signed by a group of independent rights experts affiliated with the United Nations. Signatories included Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Michel Forst, special rapporteur on human rights defenders. “Security forces have reportedly failed to intervene to protect peaceful protesters or arrest perpetrators on at least six occasions,” they said. London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International warned that attacks on protesters could signal a “dangerous escalation”. “The authorities must act immediately to protect protesters and uphold the right to peaceful assembly,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty´s Middle East research head. Street protests demanding an overhaul of Lebanon’s entire political system have rocked the small Mediterranean country since mid-October. As its bitterly divided political leaders struggle to form a new cabinet, supporters of political factions have targeted demonstrators. On Sunday night, supporters of Lebanon’s two main Shiite parties — Hezbollah and Amal — briefly attacked protesters blocking a key Beirut flyover, in the most serious such confrontation since the start of protests. The following night, dozens of youths again taunted anti-government activists in central Beirut and the southern port city of Tyre. On Tuesday, supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement — a party founded by President Michel Aoun — confronted dozens of protesters who were calling on the head of state to schedule parliamentary consultations.

Titles For The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 27-28/2019
Lebanon: UN experts decry incidents of excessive force against protesters
News Agencies/November 27/2019)
Lebanese face-off at civil war flashpoint as tensions rise/Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera/November 27/2019
How Lebanon’s political system brought the country to the brink/Michael Young/The National/November 27/2019
Hezbollah supporters in Tyre fail to deter Lebanese protesters/Sunniva Rose/The National/November 27/2019
No end in sight as parliamentary consultations postponed once again/Georgi Azar/Annahar/November 27/2019
Sources of Contradiction Between Hezbollah, Lebanese Nationalism/Hazem Saghieh/Asharq Al Awsat/November 27/2019

The Latest Lebanese LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 27-28/2019
Lebanon: UN experts decry incidents of excessive force against protesters
GENEVA (26 November 2019) – Lebanon’s security forces have reportedly used excessive force and failed to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks by others, despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of the past month’s demonstrations across the country, according to UN human rights experts*.
“The State is responsible under international law to protect peaceful protesters and ensure a safe and enabling environment for people to exercise their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said the experts. “Even where roadblocks are used as a means of protest, which may in rare cases warrant dispersal of protesters, only the minimum use of force necessary should be used and only if less intrusive and discriminatory means of managing the situation have failed.”
The experts held that although the overall response by security forces appears to have been largely proportionate and responsible, actions by the authorities raise several areas of concern.
“Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces have reportedly used live ammunition, rubber bullets and large quantities of tear gas to disperse protesters, and have at times hit, kicked and beaten protesters with batons while making arrests. Some protesters are alleged to have been ill-treated while being taken to police stations and some have been released bearing marks of abuse.”
On 12 November, a Lebanese soldier reportedly shot and killed a protester in Khalde in southern Beirut, after attempting to disperse protesters blocking a road by firing live warning shots.
Sympathisers of political groups have allegedly attacked protesters on multiple occasions, destroying their encampments and attacking them and journalists with rocks, metal rods, batons and sticks. Security forces have reportedly failed to intervene to protect peaceful protesters or arrest perpetrators on at least six occasions in Beirut, Bint Jbeil, Nabatieh and Tyre (Sour). They have also reportedly attempted to stop protesters and journalists from filming their actions, including by force, arrest, or confiscating equipment, the experts said.
The Lebanese Red Cross and Lebanese Civil Defence reported treating 1,790 people for protest-related injuries, including at least six members of the security forces, between 17 to 30 October.
The demonstrations have taken place against a backdrop of the failure by successive governments to pay serious attention to economic and social rights in the three decades since the Lebanese civil war. The result has been a crisis of affordable housing, daily electricity outages, a struggling public education system, widespread corruption, the collapse of the waste management system, environmental hazards, an insecure water supply, and widespread unemployment.
“After decades of neglect, the Government needs to take seriously the protesters’ socioeconomic grievances,” said the UN experts. “This is not only a matter of legal and institutional reforms such as the draft law on the independence of judges and lawyers, along with measures to curb corruption, embezzlement and illicit enrichment, but also of the recognition and fulfilment of essential economic and social rights.”
The experts have written to the Lebanese authorities to register their concerns, and called on the Government to explain the measures it has taken to ensure the use of force is exercised in compliance with international law; investigate allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment of protesters; and identify the measures it has taken to address the root causes of protests and longstanding socioeconomic grievances.
ENDS
*The UN experts: Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; and Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane, Chair of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights country page: Lebanon
https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25354&LangID=E&fbclid=IwAR2YohcfVM7GndkfBTEU40ngBKI4mH4NtsFwzlQkkiO_VHaWydw8xmrcHQE
For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Patricia Varela (E-mail: pvarela@ohchr.org / Tel: +41 22 928 9234) or write to srextremepoverty@ohchr.org

Lebanon: Protesters cautious after clashes with sectarian groups
Leila Molana-Allen /Aljazeera/November 27/2019
Demonstrations recently turned violent after supporters of the two Shia groups attacked protesters on Sunday.
Beirut, Lebanon – As Lebanon enters its seventh week of anti-government demonstrations, protesters reacted with cautious defiance after three days of repeated clashes with sectarian supporters.
After a relatively quiet weekend following nationwide celebrations of Lebanon’s 76th independence day on Friday, the trouble began on Sunday night when protesters blocked roads across the country in advance of calls for a general strike on Monday.
That night saw some of the most sustained clashes since the protests began, as demonstrators and sectarian supporters of leading Shia parties Hezbollah and Amal riding scooters faced off repeatedly until the early hours on Beirut’s arterial ring road.
Scores of riot police attempted to keep the two sides apart as sectarian supporters threw rocks at protesters, who retaliated in kind.
Using alleyways on either side of the highway, Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters tried several times to infiltrate the group of protesters, some of whom armed themselves with sticks and metal bars.
At one point protesters chased the infiltrators, bringing back and setting fire to one of their scooters as a trophy.
“It hasn’t deterred me at all, of course, I will be out again,” said protester Marie-Nour Hechaime, who fled the scene twice before returning to continue blocking the road. “It was scary on the spot, but not more than that.”
Demonstrator Wael Abdel Khaled pulled up his sleeves to show Al Jazeera the cuts and bruises he sustained.
“They hit both my arms and my leg with a rock,” Abdel Khaled said. “It was raining rocks on us. It was a battle, really like a battle. But we are not scared. We want it peacefully, but we are not scared of anyone. We want to build a better Lebanon.”
Another group on mopeds headed to Martyr’s Square, where they destroyed protesters’ tents and cars parked nearby.
Shortly after 3am (01:00 GMT), riot police deployed large clouds of tear gas to clear the crowds and by morning, the road was open again. The general strike planned for Monday did not go ahead.
Such attacks by sectarian supporters have been seen several times in recent weeks, but Sunday night’s clashes marked the first occasion when mostly peaceful anti-government protesters retaliated en masse.
‘Self-defence’
On Monday night, a smaller number of protesters took to Martyr’s Square and Riad el Solh, many pacing the streets carrying metal bars after news spread that groups of Hezbollah and Amal supporters were once again riding their motorcycles through downtown Beirut.
The atmosphere was oppressively tense, a marked change from the celebratory, hopeful mood that has defined the protest movement until now.
Protesters maintained they carried the sticks purely for self-defence; many, however, appeared on a hair-trigger and spoiling for a fight.
As the gang of riders drove past, scores of protesters broke through the barriers riot police had erected to separate the two groups and ran at the riders, yelling and waving their improvised weapons.
Several riders stopped and hurled rocks back before driving off. The scene repeated itself several times throughout the night as the riders returned and security forces struggled to keep the two groups apart.
“This is self-defence at the end of the day, the people here are very peaceful but when you are getting hit a first, second, third, fourth, fifth time, you need to protect yourself in the end,” said Abdel Khaled.
“Anyone, by human nature, when he’s scared he is going to defend himself.”
Other protesters, however, were concerned by the violent development.
“[When I saw them holding weapons] I told everyone, ‘What you’re doing does not represent our protest,'” said artist Michel el-Hachem, adding the change in atmosphere on Monday made him uncomfortable.
“I was telling everyone, ‘Please leave the square’ and I and a lot of other people who didn’t agree with this type of protest actually left.”
By Tuesday the tensions spread to other sectarian groups: in the Ain el Remmaneh and Chiyah neighbourhoods of Beirut, Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters clashed with locals, many of whom support the Christian Lebanese Forces party, throughout the evening.
As the two groups stood on either side of a street – which marked a major front line between Christian and Muslim sides of the city during the country’s 15-year civil war – onlookers remarked on the eerie echoes conjured by the scene.
‘Honeymoon is over’
While fewer protesters have continued to turn out since the clashes escalated, the smaller numbers on the streets this week was attributed to a need to recover and regroup, said Abdel Khaled, rather than any loss of determination.
“Because we had a battle on Sunday night, so, of course, some people, they want to rest – in Arabic, we call it the ‘warrior’s break’. They need to breathe a bit after what happened, maybe there is damage. But people are still talking, they’re having meetings and trying to find a solution.”
Hechaime noted things have changed after the past few days of violence.
“About the future, I feel that the honeymoon is over … People are starting to feel that this is going to last. We’re really going to have to be strategic and even the ‘we’ is starting to be re-evaluated a bit.
“I feel a bit discouraged at the moment, but I think it’s normal that you have ups and downs, so I think we just have to continue.”
Dichotomous discourse
Some, however, argue if the anti-government protesters aim for a truly united Lebanese movement, they ought to consider what they have to offer the young Lebanese coming out in support of Hezbollah and Amal.
“There is a kind of discourse that is very dichotomous: us and them, we are civilised, we want to bring about a new country, we know how to protest. While they are thugs, and mobs. It’s very pejorative, reducing their whole identity to them riding around on mopeds causing tension,” said Jamil Mouawad, a politics lecturer at the American University of Beirut.
“The superficial reading is that they’re counter-revolutionaries, sent by parties to beat up protesters and push forward a counter-revolution; but that’s not the main cause. They consider the road closures an act of aggression against their mobility as these are the main routes of access to their neighbourhoods. The more protesters are closing roads, the more they are irritated.”
Rather than reacting to aggression from sectarian supporters, protesters should attempt a dialogue, said Mouawad.
“I don’t see that protesters have opened any channels to reach out to these people, other than the chants saying ‘all of us’.”
As the protesters grow fearful and weary, a second, equally pressing concern is where they go from here.
President Michel Aoun announced on Tuesday that consultations to select a new prime minister will be held at the presidential palace in Baabda on Thursday, a full month after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned.
What next?
If Parliament’s next choice is anything like the last – Tripoli billionaire Mohammad Safadi was briefly nominated a two weeks ago before widespread protests in response convinced him to withdraw his name – demonstrators are unlikely to accept it.
If, however, the popular chant calling for the rejection of the entire existing political class, “all of them means all of them”, is fulfilled, who will lead the country next?
So far, a key tenet of the anti-government protests’ success has been their lack of a defined leadership. Having no one in charge has allowed protesters to dodge calls for negotiation from politicians and represent themselves as truly grassroots.
Some, however, in the ubiquitous WhatsApp groups where many of the protests are organised, have begun to voice concern that without leaders and a clear strategy for the future, confidence is waning as to the long-term gains of opposing a new government formed from existing politicians.
“Who will replace them, after all? We need, at the very least, a mission statement and some lists of candidates,” said one poster.
Before a new breed of politicians can be carved out, the priority must be solving the economic crisis looming over the country, said university professor and activist Mona Fawaz.
“This is the way forward but it’s not easy. You cannot reverse 40 years of corruption in 40 days. Unless there is an intervention [by the current government] to move us out of the deadlock we are in … the danger is grave.”
Civil society organiser Zeina al-Helou, however, said among some groups plans for the future are already under way.
“The protests did not start from scratch, a number of political groups actively working towards change had already started way before 17 October,” she said. “The next step is obviously elections and this is on the agenda, of course. We are working at the grassroots level with the protesters and in different regions to ensure that the achievements [of the protests] yield themselves in election results. So yes, there is a plan; yes, there is a will and; no, we will not stop,” said al-Helou.

Lebanese face-off at civil war flashpoint as tensions rise
Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]/November 27/2019
Third night of clashes between party supporters and protesters threatens largely peaceful Lebanon rallies.
Beirut, Lebanon – Clashes broke out in towns and cities across Lebanon on Tuesday in the third night of confrontation between party supporters and demonstrators, which threatens to derail a peaceful protest movement.
The most symbolic was an hours-long standoff between residents of Ain al-Remmaneh, where Lebanon’s 15-year civil war began, and neighbouring Chyah. Supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement threw rocks and other objects across a road between the two areas that marked the dividing line between Christian East Beirut and Muslim West Beirut during the 1975-1990 war. The men on the other side, many of whom support the Lebanese Forces party, retaliated before the army intervened to keep both sides apart. But even after the confrontations died down, hundreds of men continued to gather in the dark alleyways of Ain al-Remmaneh, wielding batons, smoking cigarettes and inspecting cars.
Lebanon protests
‘Our area’
A number gathered in an open doorway, watching developments just a couple of hundred metres away, discussing how to protect what they called “our area”. “They attacked us, the residents of this place, knowing it is sensitive. This was a front line before. Do they want to repeat history?” Joseph, a 72-year-old holding a large club, told Al Jazeera. Joseph pulled down his shirt to reveal an old bullet wound beneath his collar bone which he said he had sustained during his time as a wartime commander in the area. “We don’t want to go back to that, but we need to protect our families. This is our border and they want to cross it, would anyone accept that,” he asked. “They are doing all this to try to destroy the revolution. We are from the ranks of the revolutionaries, but they are dragging us somewhere we don’t want to go.”For more than 40 days, Lebanese across Lebanon’s religious and political divides have staged mass demonstrations demanding the civil war-era ruling class be held accountable for years of mismanagement and corruption. But since Sunday, the largely peaceful protest movement has witnessed increasing violence and sectarian tensions, in incidents perpetrated largely by supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, which were part of the government of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Supporters of those parties first attacked protesters on Beirut’s main Ring road on Sunday – the third such attack since the protests began. A group of hundreds threw rocks at protesters and security forces and then entered back streets in the Christian-majority Monot area, setting fire to cars and vandalizing shops. All the while, they chanted: “Shia, Shia”.
Syria rift
On Monday night, large motorbike convoys of men roamed the streets of Beirut and headed to the Cola area, clashing with supporters of caretaker Prime Minister Hariri’s Future Movement. That night, they also attacked a protest camp in southern Tyre and on Tuesday another in Baalbeck.
Hezbollah allies have also been involved. A convoy of supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) drove through Bikfaya – the mountain stronghold of the rival Kataeb Party – on Tuesday night, honking horns and chanting slogans against one of the party’s main figures. Kataeb supporters blocked the road and clashes ensued, in which several people were injured, before the army was deployed in force.
Lebanon protests
Then came Ain al-Remmaneh.
On the other side of the road, Hezbollah and Amal supporters, many of whom are residents of the area, said the men in Ain al-Remmaneh had provoked them with curses. Few agreed to speak on the record. Many chanted slogans in support of Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri and shouted vulgarities across the street. A number of peaceful protests also continued in Beirut and across Lebanon on Tuesday night even as tensions spiked in other parts of the country. Hundreds turned out for an overnight demonstration at the Central Bank, while scores gathered in Tyre in solidarity with those who had been attacked by Hezbollah and Amal supporters the night before. But many protesters fear that the increasing provocations by partisan supporters will undermine the anti-sectarian, anti-establishment values of the uprising and drive people back towards traditional alliances.
Future, the Lebanese Forces and the Druze Progressive Socialist Party have already aligned their rhetoric in support of the protesters, while Hezbollah, Amal, the FPM and their allies have been more opposed, echoing the rift between pro and anti-Damascus camps that emerged after Syria’s 2005 withdrawal from Lebanon.
Joseph was pessimistic about the future. “If it keeps going like this, we are heading towards ruin and strife,” he said. Just after midnight, a group of men assaulted a burly man on a crossroads in Ain al-Remmaneh. A number of them told Al Jazeera that the man they attacked had arrived to play poker at a small casino in the neighbourhood, but as he sat down, his phone screen lit up showing an Amal Flag. The men said they chased him out of the establishment, and down the street before beating him. “Keep him prisoner,” one said, before a man who identified himself as belonging to an intelligence branch intervened and drove him away, across the de-facto front line towards Chyah.
As the group of men walked back towards their side, one told Al Jazeera: “We forced him to go back to his area and tell them we’re not p*****s. We are men.”

How Lebanon’s political system brought the country to the brink
Michael Young/The National/November 27/2019
Post-war constitutional agreements embedded the corruption that plagues the country to this day
With the Lebanese sinking deeper into the realisation that their country’s national finances have been plundered, many are reflecting on the system that made this possible. They are beginning to comprehend that the post-war economy was something of a giant Ponzi scheme, enriching a few leading politicians and banks, with no regard for their own welfare, as they now face the prospect of losing all their savings.
Two things characterised the Lebanese system that evolved after the end of the civil war in 1990. The first was the political order put in place by the new constitution agreed in 1989, which effectively created the conditions for a division of the nation’s spoils among major sectarian leaders; the second was the way post-war reconstruction was managed by the late prime minister Rafik Hariri after 1992.
In 1989, Lebanese parliamentarians agreed to a new constitution in Saudi Arabia. The Taif Agreement integrated a number of reforms agreed over the previous decade and a half, and effectively took much power away from the Maronite president and redistributed it to the council of ministers, which would no longer be subordinate to the presidency. The cabinet became Lebanon’s prime executive authority and the system of compromise ensured that it would most often be made up of the country’s main sectarian representatives.
The new constitution mandated equal representation of Christians and Muslims in government institutions – parliament, the government and the civil service. This quest for balance came to mean that all decisions had to be decided by compromise. Consequently, cabinets became unwieldy as every decision had to be negotiated between political forces to reach a consensus. With billions of dollars at stake in the reconstruction process, each of these forces had a rationale for blocking policies to secure a larger share of state contracts.
Over the years, Lebanese banks rolled over the debt by purchasing new treasury bills, creating a ballooning domestic debt. AP Photo
Over the years, Lebanese banks rolled over the debt by purchasing new treasury bills, creating a ballooning domestic debt. AP Photo
The behaviour of then prime minister Rafik Hariri, the main patron of the reconstruction project, only consolidated this unhealthy trend. The late prime minister was in a hurry to rebuild Lebanon and hence resorted to numerous strategies to remove obstacles to his major projects swiftly.
That resulted in a system that allowed major politicians, many of them former warlords, to take a cut from major reconstruction contracts, which would give them an incentive to facilitate their passage and implementation. They were handed key ministries, which created a nexus between the warlords or their followers, and the extraction of rent from state bodies.
Hariri also guided reconstruction through the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), which directly answered to his office. The CDR became a sort of super reconstruction ministry in the early post-war years, and through its authority pushed many ministries into a subordinate role. The result was that former warlords gained in wealth and power while ministries often became toothless organisations, dominated by politicians and marginalised by the CDR.
In parallel, Hariri funded post-war reconstruction mainly by stabilising the national currency and preserving its pegging to the dollar. This allowed him to issue domestic debt with high interest rates, enriching the banks that had ties with the political class. The problem was that the interest rates effectively killed any incentive for banks to make money by loaning to the private sector, since they could earn much more by holding high-interest treasury bills.
A Lebanese protester wears a mask and holds a national flag as other protesters block the highway leading to the presidential palace. The country could be on the verge of a social revolution. Wael Hamzeh / EPA
A Lebanese protester wears a mask and holds a national flag as other protesters block the highway leading to the presidential palace. The country could be on the verge of a social revolution. Wael Hamzeh / EPA
This induced apathy in banks, who over the years rolled over the debt by purchasing new treasury bills, creating a ballooning domestic debt. That, and the fact that the political class was digging deep into reconstruction funding to finance itself and its partisans, meant that the bank deposits of Lebanese citizens only existed on paper while their money was siphoned off through corrupt practices into the accounts of politicians who divided the nation’s wealth among themselves.
This theft of state resources has now reached breaking point. The political cartel knows that if the economy were to collapse, politicians would struggle to revive the system that lined their pockets for three decades. More worrying for them, Lebanon could be on the verge of a social revolution, with all that entails for their personal interests. Today only Hezbollah offers them protection, because the party views the corrupt system as having provided it with cover to retain its weapons.
The Taif constitution and Hariri’s reconstruction programme were needed at their particular moment. However, they became instruments facilitating Lebanon’s descent into a system consisting not so much of power-sharing, as many claimed, but of pie-sharing. Lebanese citizens knew their politicians were noxious and that the system was unsustainable but their support was always built on the notion that sectarian leaders would redistribute the wealth downwards. Today, Lebanon is bankrupt and there is no longer anything to distribute.
This suggests that the old system cannot simply be rebuilt as it was. However, neither the politicians nor Hezbollah have a desire to give it up. Lebanon is heading toward much more than bankruptcy; it is entering a long period of political emergency, where there is a need to transform the system into something that can benefit the majority. A political crisis on top of an economic calamity is a recipe for many years of strife ahead.
*Michael Young is editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East programme, in Beirut

Hezbollah supporters in Tyre fail to deter Lebanese protesters

Sunniva Rose/The National/November 27/2019
Protesters still take to streets in group’s stronghold
Protesters returned to the streets of Hezbollah stronghold Tyre on Tuesday in defiance of attacks by the group’s supporters the previous night. The last big coastal city before the Israeli border, Tyre was the site of violent clashes on Monday after a mob of young men supporting Hezbollah and ally Amal burned down a tent set up by protesters on one of the city’s main squares. Undeterred, dozens turned out in Tyre late on Tuesday afternoon from the neighbouring cities of Saida and Nabatieh to show their support, and a new tent was erected. Protesters said that the mob was trying to cause ruptures within the movement.
“Those who attacked us are not with the people, they are with the power,” student midwife Rita Chouceir, 28, told The National. “Half the protesters here are Shiite. They are trying to divide us.”
A bus full of schoolchildren drove past chanting “revolution” and cars blared their horns. These small gestures of moral support kept the protesters going when many of those who had originally joined stopped showing up because of the threats, Ms Chouceir said.
She said that the protests would eventually achieving their goals, including a government of independent specialists who would fight the corruption that plagues Lebanon. “The protests are not over otherwise they would have no reasons to attack us,” Ms Chouceir said. “It’s a sign that they are under pressure.”Speaking to a crowd of demonstrators from a stage that had been broken during the attacks, beautician Amal Wazny, 46, said she had been surprised by the assault.
“I thought the men were coming to be with us, I didn’t think they were coming to attack us and break our tent,” Ms Wazny said. “Our demands are the same as theirs. We want to fight corruption and want stolen money to be returned by politicians.”Hezbollah and Amal recently intensified pressure against protesters across Lebanon as the economic crisis worsened. The country has been without a government since October 29, when Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned.
In another attack, in Beirut on Sunday night, Hezbollah supporters attacked people who were blocking a Beirut highway. The violence was fuelled by Hezbollah’s outrage at the death of two people in a car accident after they hit a barrier set up to divert traffic near a protest south of the capital on Sunday morning. The party described it as a “horrific crime” committed by “bandits”, but protesters said security footage clearly showed the car was speeding.
Hezbollah and Amal deny sending men out to attack protesters, but they have not condemned the violence. Demonstrators say that the highly organised attacks could not have occurred without at least implicit support from both parties. Hezbollah is widely respected for fighting Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, and a strong social network has strengthened its footing in Lebanese society.

No end in sight as parliamentary consultations postponed once again
Georgi Azar/Annahar/November 27/2019
On Wednesday, sources close to the presidency announced that binding parliamentary consultations were set to kick-off Thursday, hours after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri withdrew his candidacy.
BEIRUT: Sources have confirmed that parliamentary consultations, initially set for Thursday, have been postponed indefinitely citing the absence of a number of MPs.
On Wednesday, sources close to the presidency announced that binding parliamentary consultations were set to kick-off Thursday, hours after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri withdrew his candidacy.
A mere 24 hours later, officials backtracked on that notice, with sources telling Annahar that discussions with Hariri are still ongoing to secure his backing for another candidate at the very least.
Hariri had signaled his unwillingness to head a government made up of both specialists and politicians, arguing that a “fully independent Cabinet is the only way out of the sharp economic crisis facing Lebanon.”
Hariri withdraws candidacy as parliamentary consultations set for Thursday
The announcement had offered a sign of relief for protestors, who have been demanding the formation of a new government since Hariri submitted his resignation a month ago.
However, dozens of people were injured in overnight confrontations between supporters and opponents of the country’s president, according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Fistfights and stone-throwing erupted in a northern city and a mountainous town.
Lebanon’s massive nationwide protests against the country’s ruling elite remained overwhelmingly peaceful since they began last month. But as the political deadlock for forming a new government drags on, tempers are rising.
The protests have slid into violence in recent days. That’s particularly after supporters of the main two Shiite groups attacked protesters in Beirut Sunday night. On Tuesday night, Aoun’s supporters and opponents clashed in the city of Tripoli and in the mountain town of Bikfaya injuring 34.
In the midst of the political deadlock and financial uncertainty, Lebanon’s Economic Bodies group called for a general strike and the complete closure of all private institutions across the country from Thursday to Saturday to push major political parties to form a new government and avert further economic damage. “The political forces have not assumed their national responsibilities and have not shown the seriousness necessary to produce solutions to the current crisis,” it said.
Lebanon has been dealt a hard blow to its foreign currency liquidity, prompting banks to assume a more conservative approach to preserve its reserves. Lines of credit have been slashed while withdrawals have been limited across the board, giving rise to black market rates which had surged to near the 2000 LBP to the dollar mark, about a third higher than the pegged rate of 1,507.5.
Banks’ informal capital controls have yet to be ratified into law by Parliament, with a political consensus on the issue still lacking. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has maintained on a number of occasions that capital controls are off the table while assuring that haircuts on deposits remain far fetched.
— With AP.

Sources of Contradiction Between Hezbollah, Lebanese Nationalism!
Hazem Saghieh/Asharq Al Awsat/November 27/2019
In Lebanon and elsewhere, when a sect, any sect, at the peak of its power and aggression, is confident in its weapons and satisfied with its external relations, it is impossible for a national project to arise.
This happened twice, but then, there was no national project at all. The first time, when a sectarian branch was strengthened with the strength of the Palestinian resistance weapon; and the second time, when a sectarian counter-branch was strengthened with the weapon of the Israeli invasion.
Today, for the third time, a third sectarian thought is intensifying while a national project is being born. This makes a significant difference: in the two previous cases, the two sectarian projects could fabricate a national ideology and pretend to adopt it. In the first case, this “leftist” patriotism was linked to resistance to Israel and colonialism. Moreover, this camouflaged sectarianism has been able to claim a social and reformist extension of that patriotism.
In the second case, the right-wing patriotism was linked to the resistance to “outsiders”, the control of arms and the provision of stability to preserve the status quo described as “superiority”.
Kamal Jumblatt on the one hand, and Bashir Gemayel on the other. The two were assassinated as leaders of two groups, each saying it was Lebanon.
In the present case, such an assertion, one that adopts patriotism, will become increasingly difficult. It is enough to return a few days to the “civilian parade” that gathered tens of thousands of people on the occasion of Independence Day, to see that the fledgling patriotism is completing its mission, and it does so at a distance of the light from Hezbollah. That celebration of independence seemed independence by itself.
Independence from the stubbornness of previous celebrations, from the shield that used to separate the people and civilians on one hand, from the military and the authority on the other… Independence from the former superior nature of the event, which was replaced by a celebration that ascends from the street… Independence from a dead language with dull and folkloric messages…
The same occasion was also a break from an absurd way of criticizing the independence: “We have not paid blood for it. We have achieved political independence, but not an economic one. It is a fabricated independence of a fabricated country …” These are also arguments buried with their counter-arguments.
In other words, the new Lebanese took to the street to reject a whole set of ideas and perceptions… To declare their adherence to a homeland that should be based on rules other than those on which it was founded and led to the current situation.
The men in power, on the other hand, re-played the celebration they performed year after year since 1943. This time, they looked like an unnecessary surplus. They looked funny and sad at one time.
Beyond this, the Lebanese national project has already come a long way towards self-formation. Hezbollah’s resistance seemed completely remote. Here, it is fine to say that such a sectarian and religious party is ineligible to coexist with a national project that is anti-sectarian by definition.
A solely religious party? It might coexist. An adaptable sectarian party? Perhaps. But for both; a religious and sectarian party, the difficulty is great. In this case, being national is also confronted with the big extent to which the party is linked to Iran. Here, it is not only about being influenced by a model, or about a mere religious loyalty, a mere tradition of clothing and behavior, rituals, or mere financial assistance, or armament. Here, all these dimensions come together in a unique relationship, one that is difficult to digest patriotism.
Other elements have complicated the relationship between the two sides: by intervening in Syria, the party has provoked very broad segments of Lebanese interested in change.
There are two more important points: the party’s way of avoiding the Israeli threat is not unanimous,
as many Lebanese believe that this method, imposed on them, is more costly than the cost of the Israeli danger itself, at the security, economic and political levels.
Second, the requirements of the current situation, especially the blockade of Iran and its allies, and the uprising of Iraqis and Iranians threaten the Lebanese with more sacrifices and put their national project at risk.
Thus, the interests of the party in facing the “US attack”, is now identical to the interests of the system that the people are revolting against.
The resistance has become a cold and obsolete project, afraid of the new nationalism and frightening it. The party’s conspiratorial arguments are not convincing. Some leftists, who considered it an ally in the social battle, discovered that the Aounists were its only ally.
There lies the dilemma that is as difficult to ignore as it is difficult to solve, which may end the homeland itself. If the reality requires the Lebanese patriotism to turn a blind eye to the issue of arms, pending the judgment of God; then the same reality prevents Hezbollah from turning a blind eye to the nascent Lebanese patriotism. The attacks of the Ring Bridge, Martyrs’ Square, Riad El Solh and the city of Tyre are a living example.