A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For January 20/2020 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 95th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For January 19-20/2020 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 95th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
January 20/2020

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on January 19-20/2020
Human Rights Watch Slams ISF’s ‘Brutal Use of Force’
Lebanon Protesters to Rally Anew after Almost 400 Hurt in Clashes
Almost 400 injured in Lebanon clashes: Rescuers
Beirut Braces for More Violence, after Night of Riots
Diab Meets with Aoun amid Reports of Imminent Govt. Formation
Aoun to preside over a security meeting tomorrow
Diab meets with Berri in Ain El-Tineh
Hariri says persistence of confrontations between the army, security forces and protesters yields no solution
Rahi to those obstructing the cabinet formation: You bear the responsibility of shame and disgrace for what happened in Hamra and Beirut
Al-Hassan: Army Chief praised the work of the security services, confirmed continuation of coordination to maintain order
ISF: For maintaining demonstrations’ peacefulness, since we will be forced to deter rioters
Al-Sayyid: The government still faces obstacles
El-Machnouk: For early presidential and parliamentary elections and a technocrat government
Jumblatt: Beirut deserves not this treatment!
Kouyoumjian: Method of rule is responsible
Red Cross: 169 cases were transferred to hospitals as a result of the events in Central Beirut
Lebanon: Three Months of Protests
Hariri Urges New Govt., Calls on Tripoli Protesters to Shun Violence
Lebanon: Hariri Calls for Govt. Formation Following Night of Riots
Lebanon’s Hariri: ‘stop wasting time’ in government talks, economic solutions
Bassil ‘Accepts’ Proposal from Diab on Seat Distribution
Lebanon to release protesters detained after night of riots
Lebanon’s ‘week of rage’ ends in violent clashes
Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, Water Cannons Fired at Stone-Throwing Protesters in Beirut
Protesters back on Beirut streets after overnight bid to storm parliament
Violence Predominates Confrontations Between Protesters, Security Forces in Beirut
Israel to build anti-tunnel sensor network along Lebanon border
Afiouni: Heart-breaking, offensive, suspicious and rejected scenes of violence
Three young men reported missing in Harabta outskirts, search operations continue
Raad: Whether you participate or not in the government, you are concerned and we will not let you be!
Syria’s invisible hand in Lebanon confronts Iran’s allies/Basem Shabb/The National/January 19/2020
My observation on the serious recent developments in Lebanon/Robert Rabil/January 20/2020

Details Of The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorial published on January 19-20/2020
Human Rights Watch Slams ISF’s ‘Brutal Use of Force

Associated PressNaharnet/January 19/2020
Human Rights Watch has described the Internal Security Forces’ response to the central Beirut demo which turned violent on Saturday as “brutal,” calling for an urgent end to what it called a “culture of impunity” for police abuse. “There was no justification for the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon’s riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators in downtown Beirut,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “Riot police showed a blatant disregard for their human rights obligations, instead launching teargas canisters at protesters’ heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque,” he said. Saturday’s demo witnessed the fiercest violence since protests erupted three months ago. Protesters have called for more rallies on Sunday. Riot police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of protesters rallied outside the parliament and in downtown. The protesters, who came from the country’s north, east and Beirut, lobbed firecrackers at security forces, metal bars, stones and tree branches. The pitched street battles lasted for nearly nine hours, leaving almost 400 people injured. Caretaker Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan said Saturday that security forces were ordered to protect peaceful protests. “But for the protests to turn into a blatant attack on the security forces and public and private properties, this is condemned and totally unacceptable,” she tweeted.

Lebanon Protesters to Rally Anew after Almost 400 Hurt in Clashes
Agence France Presse
Almost 400 people were wounded during running battles between Lebanese anti-government protesters and security forces in Beirut Saturday, rescuers said, the heaviest toll since the demonstrations erupted three months ago. More street rallies were expected Sunday as part of popular protests since October 17 that have demanded the wholesale ouster of the Lebanese political class, which activists condemn as inept and corrupt. Sunday morning, the streets were mostly empty as rain fell on the center of Beirut, with police cars guarding the entrances to the main protest hub at Martyrs’ Square. On a side street leading towards the seat of government, a tea pot lay among black cinders on the pavement where unknown perpetrators set fire to protest tents the night before. Ali, a 34-year-old who had camped in one of the tents, said he had lost his belongings in the blaze and was left with “just the clothes I’m wearing and the papers I had in my pocket.”But “the attack made us stronger. We will continue with even more energy to speak out the truth,” he said, as he huddled around a wood fire next to the wreckage wrapped in a thick blanket. On Saturday, at least 377 people were injured — both protesters and members of the security forces — according to a toll compiled by AFP from figures provided by the Red Cross and Civil Defense. An AFP photographer at the scene said security forces fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing protesters as thick clouds of tear gas covered central Beirut.
‘Police abuse’
On Sunday, social media users and a local television channel shared the testimonies of relatives of at least two young men they said were hit in the eyes by rubber bullets. Saturday’s clashes began after dozens of protesters, some concealing their faces with scarves, threw rocks and plant pots at anti-riot police guarding the road leading to parliament in Beirut. Others tried to breach barbed wire barricades to reach the legislature building or charged police lines using traffic signs. The security forces responded with water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds. Protesters had called for a week of “anger” as an economic crisis deepened while efforts remained deadlocked to form a new government to replace a leadership that stepped down under street pressure last year. The Civil Defense said 43 people were taken to hospital, and 114 others treated at the scene over slight injuries or “breathing problems.”
The Red Cross said it had rushed 80 people to hospitals while 140 were given first aid on site. The state-run National News Agency said around 30 people were briefly detained. Security forces said they had opened an investigation after a video shared online showed police beating up people believed to be protesters as they were brought to a Beirut police station. “Another day without a government, another night of violence and clashes,” U.N. envoy to Lebanon Jan Kubis said on Twitter, summing up the country’s situation since October. Political factions agreed on December 19 to appoint former education minister Hassan Diab as the new premier but have since squabbled over proposed ministers. The protesters have demanded that a new government be comprised solely of independent experts, and exclude all established political parties they accuse of being motivated by personal and partisan gains.
The World Bank has warned the poverty rate in Lebanon could rise from a third to half of the population if the political crisis is not resolved soon.

Almost 400 injured in Lebanon clashes: Rescuers
AFP, Beirut/Sunday, 19 January 2020
Almost 400 people were wounded Saturday during running battles between anti-government protesters and Lebanese security forces in the capital Beirut, rescuers said. It was the heaviest toll since the protests erupted three months ago, with the Red Cross and Civil Defense saying 377 people at least were rushed to hospital or treated at the scene. More demonstrations were expected later Sunday as part of the wave of popular protests that has demanded the wholesale ouster of the Lebanese political class, which the activists condemn as inept and corrupt. Protesters had called Saturday for a week of “anger” as an economic crisis deepened while efforts remained deadlocked to form a new government to replace the one that stepped down under street pressure late last year. Saturday’s clashes began after dozens of protesters, some concealing their faces with scarves, threw rocks, plant pots and other objects at anti-riot police guarding the road leading to parliament. Others tried to breach barbed wire barricades to reach the legislature building or charged police lines using traffic signs as weapons. The security forces responded with water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Beirut Braces for More Violence, after Night of Riots
Associated Press/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat ordered Sunday the release of 34 people detained in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters that wounded hundreds in the capital. It was the worst violence since the unrest erupted three months ago. Security forces were bracing for more rioting by reinforcing concrete barriers and stringing coils of razor wire across downtown Beirut. The public prosecutor said all those detained during the previous night’s riots would be released except those with other pending cases, the official National News Agency reported. At least 377 people were injured in Saturday’s clashes, according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense. More than 120 of those were treated in hospitals, including a protester who sustained an eye injury, as well as security force members. The Internal Security Forces said 142 of its members were injured, including 7 officers, some with serious concussions. The clashes took place amid a rapidly worsening financial crisis and an ongoing impasse over the formation of a new government. The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October.
Security forces and the military were girding themselves for more violence, following protester calls for more rallies on Sunday.
Government forces blocked access to some buildings in central Beirut with razor wire, closing off access to areas that included a popular tourist site. Workers also welded fencing together across roadways that lead to Parliament to make it harder for demonstrators to push through. On the quiet, rainy streets Sunday, shopkeepers, banks and other businesses swept up broken glass and boarded up windows. Workers at one bank took down the large sign with its name to remove any identifier and avoid soliciting anger from protesters, who smashed the windows and the facade of Lebanon’s Banking Association headquarters with metal bars the previous night. The demonstrators widely blame Lebanese financial institutions, alongside government corruption, for the crippling economic crisis. Nearby soot and ashes still littered the ground where security forces burned the tents of the protesters’ sit-in during the chaotic melee. Riot police had fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets late into the night Saturday to disperse the thousands of demonstrators. The protesters, who came from the country’s north, east and the capital itself, clubbed security forces with tree branches and metal bars and fired flares and fireworks, while lobbing stones and other projectiles at them. The clashes also took place on the steps of a mosque downtown. Dar al-Fatwa called it “inappropriate” and said protesters had taken refuge inside the mosque and were taken care of.
The pitched street battles lasted for nearly nine hours, with both protesters and the government trading blame for the violence.
Caretaker Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan said that security forces were ordered to protect peaceful protests. “But for the protests to turn into a blatant attack on the security forces, public and private properties, this is condemned and totally unacceptable,” she tweeted Saturday. However, Human Rights Watch described the security force response as “brutal” and called for an urgent end to a “culture of impunity” for police abuse. “There was no justification for the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon’s riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators in downtown Beirut,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “Riot police showed a blatant disregard for their human rights obligations, instead launching teargas canisters at protesters’ heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque.” The protesters have been rallying against the country’s political elite who have ruled Lebanon since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. They blame politicians for widespread corruption and mismanagement in a country that has accumulated one of the largest debt ratios in the world. Panic and anger have gripped the public as their local currency, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, plummeted. The Lebanese pound lost more than 60% of its value in recent weeks on the black market. The economy has seen no growth and foreign inflows dried up in the already heavily indebted country that relies on imports for most of its basic goods. Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers. Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt.

Diab Meets with Aoun amid Reports of Imminent Govt. Formation
Naharnet/January 19/2020
Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab on Sunday met with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace. Diab left without making a statement after the 90-minute meeting, after media reports said that the cabinet line-up could be announced on Sunday. TV networks said the meeting was “positive” although some points remain unresolved. March 8 sources told MTV that the line-up was not yet “ready.” TV networks meanwhile announced that the Marada Movement will not take part in the government and that its chief Suleiman Franjieh will hold a press conference on Tuesday. LBCI television had earlier said that “the efforts of the Shiite duo and the other forces are witnessing a new momentum regarding the government’s size and the number and portfolios of the ministers.”“The Shiite duo will seek to convince PM-designate Hassan Diab to enlarge the government to 20 ministers to resolve the obstacle related to the representation of Marada and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party,” LBCI said. “The Shiite duo is keen on the representation of all its allies in the government,” it added.

Aoun to preside over a security meeting tomorrow
NNA/January 19/2020
President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, is expected to head a security meeting at noon on Monday, attended by Caretaker Ministers of National Defense, Elias Bou Saab, and Interior and Municipalities, Raya al-Hassan, and the leaders of the military and security apparatuses, to dwell on the prevailing security conditions and the precautions required to address the situation.

Diab meets with Berri in Ain El-Tineh

NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
The Prime Minister-designate, Hassan Diab, is currently meeting with House Speaker, Nabih Berri, at Ain El-Tineh Palace.

Hariri says persistence of confrontations between the army, security forces and protesters yields no solution
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri considered in a tweet on Sunday that “the persisting confrontations between the army, security forces and the demonstrators denote turning around in the problem, and not a solution.” “There is a way to calm the popular storm. Stop wasting time, form a government, and open the door for political and economic solutions,” confirmed Hariri. In a word to the people of Tripoli and the North, Hariri regretted what was said about bringing in young men in their name to perform acts of violence in the capital yesterday. “I know that the dignity of Beirut is entrusted by Rafic Hariri in you, and you are the line of defense for its safety, and the conscience of popular movements and their kind facets,” he said, urging them to be aware of individuals of bad influence and intentions. Hariri prayed for the safety of Lebanon and the Lebanese, saying: “We ask the Lord Almighty to grant all the injured speedy recovery and safety, and to spare our country the danger of falling into sedition.”

Rahi to those obstructing the cabinet formation: You bear the responsibility of shame and disgrace for what happened in Hamra and Beirut
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Butros al-Rahi, commented on the events that occurred yesterday evening in Central Beirut, holding the officials who are obstructing the government formation to blame. “You bear the responsibility of shame and disgrace for what happened in Hamra and Beirut,” he said.
Presiding over Sunday Mass in Bkirki this morning, the Patriarch said: “If the officials in Lebanon had an ounce of humanity, they would have rushed to form a mini-rescue government, comprised of well-known specialists, independent of the parties and the so-called politicians.”
“Humanity is the only language that all people understand and engage in. It fights enmity, injustice and excessive use of authority; humanity feels the pain of the hungry, the poor, the neglected and the ill, and softens justice and relationships in the family, the church, society and the state,” said al-Rahi.
He, thus, criticized the political officials who have abandoned their humanity and are simply working for their narrow personal gains, by impeding the new cabinet formation called for by young men and women who have filled the streets and squares of Lebanon for ninety-three days, sacrificing their comfort and shelter and bearing the frost and rain. Al-Rahi denounced the recent incidents in Beirut, saying: “We strongly condemn all of these sabotage acts because they do not represent our Lebanese values and customs, and we condemn those behind them,” holding the political class responsible for the growing public debt and the drop in GDP. Addressing the army and internal security forces, the Patriarch appreciated their exerted efforts throughout the past period in ensuring security and safety in all Lebanese regions, urging them “to exert more efforts to maintain security in the cities and prevent collisions between citizens.”Al-Rahi also called on the international community “to seriously consider the issue of Lebanon, in light of the country’s constructive role in the Middle East region, thanks to its unique features and characteristics.”

Al-Hassan: Army Chief praised the work of the security services, confirmed continuation of coordination to maintain order
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Caretaker Interior and Municipalities Minister, Raya al-Hassan, tweeted Sunday saying: “The Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, praised the readiness and professionalism of the Internal Security Forces’ leadership in its command and control, and commended the work of the military and security services at this delicate stage, appreciating their sacrifices to preserve the security of citizens and stability, and affirming continued coordination to maintain order and prevent infringement on property.”

ISF: For maintaining demonstrations’ peacefulness, since we will be forced to deter rioters
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
The General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces renewed its call this evening, via Twitter, on the innocent protesters to “maintain the peacefulness of their demonstration and prevent rioters from continuing with their attacks or move away from the place of riots,” stressing that it will be “obliged to deter rioters and stop the attack in accordance with the law.”In an earlier tweet, the security forces had asked the demonstrators to “maintain the peaceful nature of their demonstration and abstain from infringing on private and public property and attacking the security forces with firecrackers, stones, and other harmful means that would only lead to chaos and material and physical damages.”

Al-Sayyid: The government still faces obstacles
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
MP Jamil al-Sayyid tweeted Sunday on the government formation issue, saying: “Contrary to what is being circulated, the government is still facing obstacles. Hezbollah has done everything it can to reconcile between the parties, first to persuade Saad Hariri and then with Hassan Diab…As long as no one is ready to sacrifice for the sake of the people and the country, I think it is time for the resistance to shake this political dirt off its hands and leave it in the hands of its owners!”

El-Machnouk: For early presidential and parliamentary elections and a technocrat government
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
In an issued statement on Sunday, MP Nohad El-Machnouk called for holding early presidential and parliamentary elections and forming a technocrat government.
“The only temporary solution available to all political forces is to support the formation of a government of technocrats that does not resemble the previous government, in which the Free Patriotic Movement possessed the one-third veto power…and to hold early presidential elections that would end the stage of breaking the accord, destroying balance and detonating stability in Lebanon…which would later open the door for a sane electoral law and early parliamentary elections,” he asserted. Machnouk praised the Internal Security Forces and Lebanese Army units for their exerted efforts in maintaining security and safety, deeming that “the army and security forces are not responsible for the deviation of the political class, nor for the monetary crisis nor the delay in forming the government, nor in bringing the country to where it is today.”“The scene in downtown Beirut last night was painful, where we saw poor people fighting with other poor, angry and bankrupt people just like them….while those responsible for the monetary, financial and economic crisis are carrying on their series of forming the government, with the money of the Lebanese that continues to bleed with every delay in formation,” Machnouk underlined. He concluded by vowing that “Beirut will return, shinning with its people, no matter the harm caused by the formation parties, and the government will see the light without a one-third veto power.”

Jumblatt: Beirut deserves not this treatment!
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Progressive Socialist Party Chief, Walid Jumblatt, regretted Sunday the incidents that occurred in the capital yesterday, saying via his Twitter account: “Beirut, from Hamra to Mar Elias to the city’s center, does not deserve this treatment that embeds its destruction somewhat.”
“Dialogue alone must prevail between the political forces, whatever their disagreement,” stressed Jumblatt. “Yes to the peaceful demonstration as it was during the first days of the movement, and no to violence from any party,” he added, reminding that the security man is part of the people and shares their sufferings.

Kouyoumjian: Method of rule is responsible

NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Caretaker Social Affairs Minister, Richard Kouyoumjian, regretted in a tweet Sunday the prevailing situation in the country, saying: “It’s an abhorring scene of your dividing of shares while the country is collapsing financially and economically, and your promised government has already lost, in advance, local and international confidence.”“Your method of rule is responsible for what is happening since it does not simulate reality, thus resulting in the reaction of angry and destitute people,” he said. “The dreams of the Lebanese for change will turn into nightmares that will rein in on your sleep and curse you forever,” warned Kouyoumjian.

Red Cross: 169 cases were transferred to hospitals as a result of the events in Central Beirut
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
In a statement issued by the Lebanese Red Cross on Sunday, it indicated that “following the incidents that occurred yesterday afternoon and lasted till the evening, between the security forces and demonstrators in Central Beirut, the Lebanese Red Cross teams, including 18 ambulances and about 80 paramedics, backed by a central operations room with 6 paramedics, responded to the urgent appeals.” “The Red Cross recorded 169 casualties that were transferred to nearby hospitals, of which 80 were transported by the Red Cross,” the statement added.
“The Red Cross teams provided first aid on site for about 140 casualties, which varied between shortness of breath, fractures, fatigue, and wounds, while the remaining proximity centers were mobilized to respond to calls and intervene when necessary, in addition to the Spears Blood Transfusion Center which was ready to provide blood units upon demand,” the statement concluded.

Lebanon: Three Months of Protests
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Lebanon has been paralyzed by three months of protests demanding an overhaul of the entire political system. Here is a recap of the unrest, after almost 400 people are wounded in clashes over the weekend, the highest such tally since the start of the anti-establishment demonstrations:
‘WhatsApp tax’ anger
On October 17, the government announces a tax on messaging applications, including WhatsApp, which is popular because of high telephony charges.Coming amid a looming economic crisis, many see the plan as a step too far. Thousands take to the streets in Beirut and other cities, some chanting “the people demand the fall of the regime”. The government scraps the tax on messaging applications the same day, but protests continue.
Demos grow
On October 18, thousands of demonstrators representing different sects and political affiliations bring the capital to a standstill. They demand an overhaul of the political system, citing grievances from austerity measures and state corruption to poor infrastructure and regular electricity cuts. Demonstrations swell over the following days and dozens are arrested.
Reforms announced
On October 21, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announces his government has approved a raft of economic reforms, including halving salaries for lawmakers and ministers. But demonstrators dismiss the new measures as insufficient. On October 25, Hizbullah — which with its allies holds a majority in parliament — tells supporters not to take part in protests.
The next day, Hizbullah mobilizes counter-rallies, sparking scuffles with anti-government demonstrators.
Government resigns
On the evening of October 29, Hariri submits his resignation and that of his government, prompting celebrations in the streets.
President Michel Aoun asks the government to stay on until a new cabinet is formed. Protesters regroup over the coming days, demanding a new government of technocrats, independent of traditional political parties divided along sectarian lines.In a television address on November 3, Aoun announces plans to tackle corruption, reform the economy and form a new government including technical experts. But thousands of protesters stream back into Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square, chanting “Revolution!”
Foreign aid appeal rebuffed
On December 11 at a Paris conference, France, the United States, Russia and other countries rebuff Lebanon’s urgent aid appeal, making assistance conditional on the formation of a new reform-minded government. Hariri also asks the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for support in drawing up a rescue plan.
Violence intensifies
On December 14 and 15 dozens of people are wounded and security forces use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators.
Dozens more are wounded on December 17, in dawn clashes between security forces and supporters of Hizbullah and AMAL.
New prime minister
On December 19, the president finally names a new prime minister: little-known academic Hassan Diab, who is backed by Hizbullah. Protesters immediately regroup to condemn the appointment, which outrages members of the Sunni community. Protests continue the following day with roads blocked across the country.
Escalation in Beirut
On January 11, 2020, protests resume after a pause over the holidays. Days later clashes take place in Beirut and several banks are vandalized. On January 17 violence breaks out after dozens of protesters throw rocks and large plant pots at police guarding a road leading to parliament while others charge police lines. And the next day, in what is the heaviest toll since the protests began, at least 377 people — both demonstrators and members of the security forces — are rushed to hospital or treated at the scene.

Hariri Urges New Govt., Calls on Tripoli Protesters to Shun Violence
Naharnet/January 19/2020
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday called on the parties forming the new cabinet to speed up the process in order to “calm the popular storm,” as he urged protesters hailing from Tripoli and the North to shun violence and preserve “Beirut’s dignity.”
“We feared for Beirut yesterday, but as usual, it has stitched the wounds of its sons from the ranks of the security forces and protesters and removed from its face the remains of anger, rioting and the smoke of blazes,” Hariri tweeted, referring to Saturday’s fierce clashes in Beirut between protesters and security forces. “We plead to God for the recovery and safety of all those wounded and for sparing our country the threat of descending into strife,” Hariri added. Addressing the parties forming the new government, the caretaker PM said “there is a way to calm the popular storm.”
“Stop wasting time, form the government and open the door to political and economic solutions. Keeping the army, security forces and protesters in a state of confrontation prolongs the problem and is not a solution,” Hariri said. He added: “The last word is addressed to my people in Tripoli and the North: it saddens me when it is said that young men have been brought in your name to carry out yesterday’s acts of violence.”“But I know that Rafik Hariri had entrusted you with Beirut’s dignity and that you are the line of defense for its safety, the conscience of the popular protests and their good face. Beware of bad company and pay attention to what the gloaters are saying about the sabotage of the capital,” Hariri went on to say.

Lebanon: Hariri Calls for Govt. Formation Following Night of Riots
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 19 January, 2020
Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Sunday on politicians to save time and form a new government. He urged officials to find solutions for the country’s economic crisis, after a night of violent clashes between security forces and protesters.
“There is a roadmap to calm the popular storm. Stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions,” Hariri said in a tweet. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s public prosecutor ordered the release of 34 people who were detained Saturday during night clashes, as protesters called for more rallies on Sunday. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday to disperse thousands of protesters who rallied outside the parliament and in downtown Beirut. The protesters responded by attacking the security forces with metal bars, stones and tree branches.
Clashes in lasted for almost nine hours with hundreds injured. Protesters smashed windows and the facade of the headquarters of the country’s Banking Association with metal bars, as security forces set fire to a few tents set up by protesters nearby, the Associated Press (AP) reported. For her part, Interior Minister Raya El Hassan said Saturday that security forces were ordered to protect peaceful protests. “But for the protests to turn into a blatant attack on the security forces and public and private properties, this is condemned and totally unacceptable,” she said in a tweet.
Human Rights Watch described the security force response as “brutal” and called for an urgent end to a “culture of impunity” for police abuse. “There was no justification for the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon’s riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators in downtown Beirut,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “Riot police showed a blatant disregard for their human rights obligations, instead launching teargas canisters at protesters’ heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque.”Meanwhile, Lebanese rescuers treated more than 300 people for injuries on Saturday. It was the highest toll in some of the most intense violence since largely peaceful protests erupted across the country in October, Reuters reported. However, according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense the number of those injured reached at least 377, with more than 120 of those treated in hospitals. Protesters have rallied against the country’s political elite who have ruled Lebanon since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. The protesters blame politicians for widespread corruption and mismanagement in a country that has accumulated one of the largest debt ratios in the world.

Lebanon’s Hariri: ‘stop wasting time’ in government talks, economic solutions
Reuters, Beirut/Sunday, 19 January 2020
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday urged politicians to urgently form a new government and find solutions for the country’s economic crisis, after a night of violent clashes between security forces and protesters. “There is a roadmap to calm the popular storm. Stop wasting time, form a government, open the door to political and economic solutions,” tweeted Hariri, who resigned as prime minister in October under pressure from a wave of protests. “To keep the army, security forces, and protesters in a state of confrontation is to circle inside the problem,” he said.

Bassil ‘Accepts’ Proposal from Diab on Seat Distribution
Naharnet/January 19/2020
Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab has made a new initiative towards Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil through the mediator Shadi Masaad in order to speed up the formation of the new government, media reports said. An-Nahar newspaper said Diab has proposed replacing the candidate for the deputy PM post Amal Haddad with Petra Khoury, in addition to naming Ayman Haddad as economy minister and merging the defense and energy portfolios and allotting them to Raimond Ghajar. “This means the exclusion of the candidate for the defense portfolio Michel Menassa as well as Amal Haddad, and in this way Bassil would not get a sixth minister,” An-Nahar said. According to information obtained by the daily, Bassil has accepted the proposal on the condition of the consent of the parties who had objections – the Marada Movement and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.“Intensive contacts are underway away from the media spotlight and any progress regarding this proposal might lead to breaking the deadlock over the government formation,” the newspaper said, citing sources.

Lebanon to release protesters detained after night of riots
The Associated Press, Beirut/Sunday, 19 January 2020
Lebanon’s public prosecutor ordered the release Sunday of more than 30 people detained the previous evening, according to the National State News agency, in the worst day of violence since protests erupted three months ago. The public prosecutor said all 34 arrested are to be released, except those other pending cases. The clashes took place amid the backdrop of a rapidly worsening financial crisis and an ongoing impasse over the formation of a new government. The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October. Protesters have called for more rallies on Sunday.

Lebanon’s ‘week of rage’ ends in violent clashes
Lauren Lewis, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 19 January 2020
The Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut opened its doors to every religion and sect for evening prayer on Sunday to condemn yesterday’s violence by police and army that left 400 protesters injured overnight.
The situation at the mosque turned tense with a massive military parade of commanders, including armored vehicles, guns, and military personnel being deployed. The parade took place as the call to prayer began. Anti-riot police fired tear gas at tear gas at the protesters who were also seen throwing stones.
The weekend clashes were the worst since the protests began in October over rising popular frustration with a political class that is struggling to contain a growing economic crisis.
The government sent mixed signals about the unrest, with President Michel Aoun calling on the army and security forces to “preserve the safety of peaceful protesters and prevent vandalism” while Interior Minister Raya El Hassan defended the right to peaceful protest and condemned attacks on security forces and property. Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri termed the clashes “crazy, suspicious, and unacceptable.”Clashes started outside Parliament in central Beirut on Saturday afternoon, but later spread across the city.
According to the French news agency AFP, 337 people were injured, including 80 who were admitted to hospital. Several protestors were arrested; Instagram channels that monitor the protests released names of those incarcerated overnight.
Many wearing crash helmets and gas masks, protestors launched fireworks and rocks at police. In turn, the Lebanese Army forced them away from the downtown area, after some people used tennis rackets to volley the tear gas canisters back toward the authorities.
This week’s events have seen a return to road closures and burning tires on a scale not seen since October. Protesters have returned to the streets in full force denouncing government failures to address the worsening economic crisis.
“Now it’s a genuine matter of survival,” 21-year-old student, Omar told Al Arabiya English. “We need to make really good financial decisions if we want to live properly.”
Omar, who is hoping to graduate in the spring, said he would have to use money intended for his university fees to cover his living costs. If this happens, the American University of Beirut student will need a bank loan. “But right now, it is really scary to go to a bank to try and get a loan,” Omar said. Banks have imposed strict restrictions on people trying to withdraw their savings in an attempt to prevent a financial collapse. Omar has been out protesting every night this week in an attempt to force politicians to make changes.
“We’ve been on the streets since October and nothing has changed, we have to keep going,” he said. “We need to target the banks. We want our money back.”This wave of protests comes as Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab is facing further obstructions in forming his 18-member cabinet, and the country temporarily lost its right to vote in the UN because of a late payment. Diab, who was designated to be the next Prime Minister in mid-December, has moved away from a technocratic government in a potential line-up that was leaked on Thursday. “The guy who is in charge of forming the government, he is in a really good position right now to change everything in Lebanon,” Omar says. “It’s a matter of him making a decision.”However, Saturday’s clashes appeared to have made that decision for him, with protesters denouncing him on the streets. “He screwed up,” one female masked protester told Al Arabiya English last night on condition of anonymity. Despite a desperate need for a new government to stop the deepening economic crisis, protesters are refusing to accept anything less than their demands for a leadership of technocratic experts.“We have been asking for a government of technocrats since October,” she said. “It’s a simple demand but all they do is ignore us, and now they attack us.”

Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, Water Cannons Fired at Stone-Throwing Protesters in Beirut
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Security forces on Sunday fired rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons at stone-throwing protesters in central Beirut, a day after almost 400 people were injured in the fiercest clashes yet in the protests that have been rocking the country since October 17.
At least four people were injured by rubber bullets, including Al-Jazeera reporter Ihab al-Oqdeh and al-Jadeed cameraman Mohammed al-Samra. The Lebanese Red Cross said ten people were wounded by 7:00 pm. Some protesters had charged at riot police with metallic barriers and rods. Some of them later started hurling stones and firecrackers at riot police guarding Nejmeh Square. Hundreds of anti-government protesters had converged on the center of the capital Sunday afternoon despite the rainy weather. Nearby, the army’s Commando Regiment deployed heavily with dozens of vehicles and troops, some of whom were carrying shoulder-fired missile launchers. “Revolutionaries, free people, we will complete this path,” some protesters chanted, some wearing colorful waterproof ponchos or clutching umbrellas. A protester called Mazen said he and others were “fed up with politicians.””After three months of revolution, they have proven to us that they don’t change, don’t listen, and have nothing to give,” the 34-year-old said. Protesters have demanded a new government be comprised solely of independent experts, and exclude all established political parties they accuse of being motivated by personal and partisan gains. The World Bank has warned the poverty rate in Lebanon could rise from a third to half of the population if the political crisis is not resolved soon.

Protesters back on Beirut streets after overnight bid to storm parliament
Arab News/January 19/2020
BEIRUT: Lebanese protesters took to the streets again on Sunday after unprecedented overnight violence in Beirut in which nearly 400 people were injured. Security forces fired water cannon at young men hurling stones outside parliament. Protesters chanting “Revolution” tried to climb over barbed wire and fencing to storm the building. Security forces urged people to remain calm, or they would be forced back. “We’re not scared. This is all for our future and our children,” said protester Bassam Taleb. “The country is frozen. The state is not doing a thing, they’re a bunch of thieves. And if you have money in the bank, you can’t even get a hundred dollars out.”One protester taunted security forces with a flame-throwing aerosol, as others shone bright green laser lights in their direction. Anti-riot forces responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets. The new violence followed a five-hour confrontation between protesters and security forces near parliament on Saturday night. Demonstrators tried to penetrate a security fence and iron barriers to reach parliament, lobbing firecrackers and anything else they could find including traffic lights, tree branches, manhole covers and tiles. Security forces retaliated with water cannons and tear gas, and the Lebanese army was contacted for backup. Lebanon has been experiencing unrest since October, when people took to the streets to protest against corruption, the political elite and economic hardship. But Saturday night’s demonstrations were the most violent so far and there is no indication that public anger is abating.Saad Hariri stepped down as prime minister on Oct. 29 but has remained in a caretaker capacity. Hisnominated successor, Hassan Diab, has been unable to form a government amid sectarian political squabbling. Hariri said: “There is a way to calm the storm. Stop wasting time, form a government, and open the door for political and economic solutions. Having the army, security forces, and protesters in constant confrontation is going in circles, not finding a solution.”

Violence Predominates Confrontations Between Protesters, Security Forces in Beirut
Beirut – Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al Awsat/January 19/2020
Last night, Downtown Beirut turned into an arena for an intense confrontation between protesters and security forces trying to disperse them and preventing them from entering parliament. In unprecedented clashes, protesters used tree trunks and street sign poles to attack security forces who, in turn, responded by using water hoses and tear gas bombs, leading to more than 100 injuries. In the most violent confrontation the city has witnessed since the start of the protests on October 17, marches were launched from several points in Beirut under the slogan: “We will not pay the price”, in protest of the delays in the formation of the government. The protesters attempted to break through the security fence and metallic barriers to reach the parliament but were prevented by the security forces which closed the entrance with metallic barriers. This compelled protesters to attack the anti-riot police human wall. They later threw rocks and flower vases at the security forces. A number of protesters also uprooted young trees and street sign poles and used them to attack security forces. Security forces responded by shooting water and teargas to disperse them. The Internal Security Forces tweeted that “the anti-riot police are being violently and directly attacked at one of the entrances to parliament. Consequently, we ask the peaceful protesters to steer clear of the riots for their own safety”. The National News Agency mentioned that the confrontations had escalated, and some people were using fireworks and a Molotov bomb while protecting themselves with the glass front that they had removed from one of the shops as well as tree trunks. With increasing tension, the confrontation moved to the Martyrs’ Square and extended to the Saifi area while the ISF spread and deployed close to Le Gray, forming a human wall to isolate protesters. This was followed by reinforcements by the Lebanese Army that also spread in the area. The ISF stated that the rioters removed tiles from columns, broke them into smaller pieces, and threw them at the anti-riot police. It also mentioned that some anti-riot police members suffered several injuries, some were treated on the field while others were transferred to hospitals. The ISF denied claims that they had burned down the protesters’ tents in Martyrs’ Square. After the Red Cross stated that five teams were tending to the injured and transferring them to nearby hospitals, they announced an initial report indicating that 40 cases were treated on the field while 30 others were transported to hospitals. The unprecedented protest movement in Lebanon regained its momentum after entering its 4th month this week after protesters attacked banks and broke their fronts in protest of the severe restrictions on depositors amid the worst economic crisis Lebanon has ever faced. The ISF responded by using excessive force, even against journalists, which was condemned by activists and human rights organizations.

Israel to build anti-tunnel sensor network along Lebanon border
Reuters, Jerusalem/Sunday, 19 January 2020
Israel’s military announced on Sunday the start of construction of an underground network of sensors along the Lebanese frontier to detect any cross-border tunnel building. The project is getting under way a year after the Israeli military said it had destroyed a series of infiltration tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah group. “All the drilling is being done on the Israeli side of the blue line,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, referring to the border demarcation with Lebanon, said in a conference call with journalists. He said the planned Israeli network “was not a wall” but seismic and acoustic sensors buried in the ground. Israel had informed UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon about the work “to make sure everybody knows what we are doing and that we are operating on the Israeli side” of the border, Conricus said. He said deployment of the network was beginning on Sunday at Misgav Am, an Israeli border community, and drilling there could go on for up to two months, Conricus said. “The overall plan is to expand the location of the sensors and place them at additional locations along the blue line,” Conricus said, without giving an end-date for construction. “This is a precautionary measure,” he said. “Our current assessment is that there are no cross-border attack tunnels.”Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah last fought a war in 2006.

Afiouni: Heart-breaking, offensive, suspicious and rejected scenes of violence
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Caretaker State Minister for Investment and Technology Affairs, Adel Afiouni, tweeted Sunday evening on the recent events in the capital, Beirut, saying: “The scenes of violence are heart-rending, offensive, suspicious, and rejected.”“But how did we get here?” questioned Afiouni, adding, “Ninety-five days have passed with the people in the streets voicing their logical, rightful and peaceful demands for a government of independent specialists who can address the crisis with efficiency and integrity…Yet, we remain without a government nor rescue plan, but with vacuum, quotas, and a deteriorating situation.”“The people are suffering, and are losing their patience….Their anger is rightful and will spare no one,” underlined Afiouni.

Three young men reported missing in Harabta outskirts, search operations continue
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
Three young men have gone missing during a hunting trip in the outskirts of the town of Harabta in the district of Baalbek, NNA correspondent reported on Sunday. Search operations are still underway by the army and civil defense units, in cooperation with the townsmen to find the missing young men, namely Hassan Khazaal, Imad Khazaal and Ali al-Attar. Their families appealed to the President of the Republic and the Army Command to send aircrafts to help the rescue teams that are facing great difficulties, in light of the worsening weather conditions on the highlands.

Raad: Whether you participate or not in the government, you are concerned and we will not let you be!
NNA/Naharnet/January 19/2020
“We want to form a government to boost the constitution, and we seek dialogue between all components of the Lebanese society, despite our major comments on all the policies that have led us, since decades, to where we are today,” said Head of the “Loyalty to Resistance” Parliamentary Bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, on Sunday. Speaking during a memorial ceremony in the town of Adloun earlier today, Raad criticized those who say they will not partake in the government, thus fleeing responsibility. “It it is forbidden to escape and relinquish responsibilities…Whether you participate or not in the government, you are concerned, and we will not leave you alone…This country is our country and your country, and for the past thirty years, you have been scooping its good resources…and today, you are abandoning your duty and leaving the people on their own,” he said. “We are with the people’s movement, but if we actually participated in it, then civil war would have been knocking on our doors by now,” Raad went on. On the prevailing economic crisis, Raad said reassuringly: “We are all troubled by the financial and monetary policy, but do not despair, because it is a transient economic crisis.”

Syria’s invisible hand in Lebanon confronts Iran’s allies
Basem Shabb/The National/January 19/2020
Prime Minister designate Hassan Diab appears to be standing up to Hezbollah and their allies, who nominated him, to the advantage of other pro-Syrian figures
Since October 17, a nationwide uprising took Lebanese by storm, forcing then prime minister Saad Hariri and his Cabinet to step down. In December, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally, the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, or FPM, were duped into naming Dr Hassan Diab, a Sunni academic, as prime minister designate. It is the prime minister designate’s duty by law to form the Cabinet but acting foreign minister and head of the FPM, Gebran Bassil mistakenly thought he could impose his preferred nominees on a relatively unknown prime minister and divide the spoils with Hezbollah.
Much to the dismay of Mr Bassil, Mr Diab appears bent on forming a government of unaffiliated experts, in compliance with the demands of protesters. Mr Diab has challenged Mr Bassil as well as his father-in-law Lebanese President Michel Aoun, with active support from pro-Syrian politicians, most notably member of parliament Jamil Al Sayyed. Other pro-Syrian factions voiced their demands to be represented in the new government, effectively competing with the FPM for the next Cabinet’s 18 ministries.
A month ago, it seemed unlikely that Mr Diab could stand up to Mr Aoun and Mr Bassil in favour of pro-Syrian groups. Yet this is exactly what he has done
It seems that Mr Diab, far from being weak and isolated, has considerable support from Pro-Syrian factions opposed to Mr Hariri. Grand Mufti Abdul Latif Darian and other Sunni dignitaries have refrained from criticising Mr Diab, avoiding the thorny issue of his legitimacy within the community.
More importantly, the Saudi leadership has yet to take a position on Mr Diab, which may indicate that they are ready to give him a chance. Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has yet to comment on the situation but Druze politician Wiam Wahhab, one of Syria’s closest allies in Lebanon, has indicated he was the one to suggest Mr Diab for the position of prime minister. The Russians first endorsed Mr Hariri but after Mr Diab was officially nominated, they have assumed a neutral stance. Western powers are closely watching as Lebanese politicians bicker while the economy is in free fall.
Ordinary Lebanese are struggling to cope with the deep recession yet Hezbollah is only concerned with consolidating its power in government while the FPM is preoccupied with the issue of presidential succession. Other players such as parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, and Mr Jumblatt are worried about the return of Syrian influence in Lebanon. Mr Diab’s intransigence poses a threat to traditional politicians. So much so that Mr Bassil now sees common cause with Mr Berri.
Since the end of the Syrian occupation in 2005, Damascus’ influence in Lebanon had dwindled considerably. During the 2018 parliamentary elections, it was mainly channelled through its support of Hezbollah. In the years leading up to the occupation, the FPM was dismissive of Syria and Mr Bassil did not bother with diplomatic niceties, often citing collaboration with congressman Eliot Engle to pass the Syria Act in Congress in 2004. Why bother when Hezbollah was calling all the shots?
But times have changed. In October last year, Mr Bassil said he was willing to meet Mr Al Assad in Damascus. Since 2006, the FPM has struck a heinous alliance with Hezbollah. And while a few years ago, the Syrian regime seems doomed to collapsed, it is now bolstered by Russia and controls most of the nation’s territory. Several Arab countries are vying for better ties with Mr Al Assad, after having lost hope in the capacity of Lebanon’s anti-Iranian block to curb Tehran’s influence.
A month ago, it seemed unlikely that a Sunni academic with little Sunni support could stand up to Mr Aoun and his son-in-law Mr Bassil, in favour of pro-Syrian groups. Yet this is exactly what Mr Diab has done. For once the “axis of resistance” cannot blame the US or scapegoat Syrian refugees for the current impasse. Bickering among different factions within the alliance, who oppose Mr Diab, has stalled government formation.
Russia has so far stood on the sidelines in Lebanon but, if pressured, Moscow is more likely to side with Damascus rather than with a non-state actor such as Hezbollah.
The US may also face a dilemma as it disengages from the region. Hezbollah is starting to face increasing limitations to its political ascendancy in Lebanon, not only due to a months-long popular uprising and American sanctions. It also has to contend with the return of Syrian influence and rivalries between its allies. Syria may not be able to call the shots just yet, but its presence can no longer be ignored.
*Dr Basem Shabb is a former member of parliament in Lebanon

My observation on the serious recent developments in Lebanon
Robert Rabil/January 20/2020
Based on correspondence with activists and officials, the following is my observation on the serious recent developments in Lebanon.
Lebanon is fast approaching a failed state status, reaching the precipice of economic bankruptcy, social disruption and civil strife.
The recent altercations between the LAF-ISF and demonstrators are extremely dangerous as they have already created a dangerous gap between the two. This has to stop immediately for the two entities are both needed for political transition and stability.
The LAF-ISF has committed violent acts against the demonstrators who some of them have intentionally provoked the LAF. The LAF-ISF is under immense pressure by political parties other than Hezbollah and allies. Their actions cannot be separated from the political leadership and their allies who are maneuvering to protect their leadership and counteract Hezbollah’s machinations. Lest be forgotten, Hariri has influence with and over Internal Security, which has been harsh with protesters.
Yet LAF core is apprehensive of the deepening gap between them and demonstrators. They believe their acquiescence to political leadership is a necessary evil to prevent splitting the army (including a coup d’etat) or leading to open confrontation with Hezbollah and other parties.
The LAF behavior should be monitored and documented; but also the behavior of demonstrators should reflect the aspiration of the bulk of the peaceful population. It’s hard to control angry people and those intent on creating strife. Yet demonstrators should remain peaceful in withstanding the vagaries of their revolution. The revolution cannot and should not be militarized and/or turn violent. This is tantamount to suicide and/or making Hezbollah dream come true.
There are already voices on social media calling for violence deeming that a revolution cannot succeed without blood. This is wrong and immature. Let’s not forget Ghandi led a non-violent liberation movement against a great empire.
Revolution has many great leaders but it does not have a leadership to provide and implement strategy and discipline. Despite its appeal and rightful demands, Revolution has thus far underestimated the political parties in Lebanon that monopolized power and patronage. Removing them (Kullun) is easier said than done, especially without a unified leadership and strategy.
At this time, I deem it essential for the leaders of the revolution to partner with retired army officers who have been supporting the revolution.
A leadership combining civil activists/leaders and honorable retired officers is essential to narrow the dangerous gap between the LAF and demonstrators. Generals Khalil Helou, Chamel Roukoz, George Ghanem, among others could play profound roles in securing stability and political transition.
Strategic priority should focus on early elections. Phalange, Lebanese Forces have publicly called for early elections. Efforts must be made to bring first Harriri and Jumblatt on board in principle and practice, then on Bassil who will follow suit, given his recent disposition. It will be then difficult for Hezbollah to object. Some demonstrators and politicians should be careful about inviting a Russian role. True, the Trump administration is overtaken by impeachment, yet Washington has been the main supporter of army and peaceful demonstration. Do not overestimate or underestimate Washington.
Social media has been both a blessing and a curse. It allowed unprecedented swift and broad communication; yet it created a platform for nutcases and misinformation, which does not help the revolution. Also Plethora of SM emotions need to inspire perseverance and not acts of vengeance.
Kudo for the demonstrators whose grievances, courage and aspiration for better Lebanon created this unprecedented non-sectarian, reformist movement to stifle endemic corruption and patronage. Yet your path will be hardly navigated violently and/or without strategy and leadership. RR.