Political and sectarian tensions in Lebanon are at the fore once more. On Tuesday, the Hizbollah-backed candidate for prime minister, Najib Mikati, was appointed. Anti-Hizbollah demonstrations broke out in the north of the country as the appointement was announced.
The country’s unity government, led by Saad Hariri, fell apart earlier this month after Hizbollah, a resistance organisation based mainly among the country’s Shia Muslims, called on its supporters to walk out of the cabinet.
The dispute centres on a United Nations-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of then prime minister Rafiq Hariri, Saad’s father.
Hariri and many of his entourage were killed by a massive car bomb in Beiriut, Lebanon’s capital. He was widely credited for helping to end the 20 year civil war, and rebuilding the country.
His assassination triggered the so-called Cedar Revolution, a wave of popluar demonstrations that forced Syria, which occupied sections of the country, to withdraw.
At first the inquiry blamed Syria for the plot, then switched its attention to Hizbollah.
The group’s stubborn resistance to Israel, and its support for the Palestinian struggle, has won it many supporters inside Lebanon and across the wider Arab world.
Its victory over Israel during the 2006 war transformed the organisation in the eyes of many people. Its small guerrilla-based army, and wide popular support, became a potent symbol in a region ruled by dictators and tyrants who offered little support to the Palestinians.
Ever since Israel’s disastrous campaign, the US and its allies have been attempting to discredit the Lebanese movement.
The resistance and its supporters inside the cabinet demanded that the government withdraw its support for the inquiry. When that failed, Hizbollah withdrew.
At the heart of this latest crisis remains imperialism’s attempt to isolate the resistance.