Middle East Features
Firebrand Nasrallah speeches worry Beirut (News Feature)
Jul 26, 2010, 19:49 GMT
By Weedah Hamzah, dpa =
Beirut (dpa) - Will simmering tensions erupt into yet another war in Lebanon this summer?
That's the question many ordinary residents in Beirut are asking this week after two inflammatory speeches from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah concerning the United Nations tribunal into the killing of former Muslim-Sunni premier Rafik al-Hariri.
On Sunday Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah queried the work of the UN tribunal, hinting it was infiltrated by Israeli intelligence - a few days after conceding that some Hezbollah may be indicted for the al-Hariri murder.
'Should an investigation committee made of Americans and the British government, where investigating officers are brought from intelligence services closely linked to the Israeli (intelligence) Mossad, be entrusted with a big issue at this level?' he asked.
'If Hezbollah is found to be responsible for 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon will face a grave political crisis,' said Georgette Hadad, a resident of the Christian-neighborhood of Ashrafieh.
'You could feel the tension everywhere and people are worried..' said Hadi Dimashkiyeh, a resident of Beirut.
Nasrallah's comments have provoked the already highly-charged Lebanese political arena and spread fears among the Beirut residents.
'Nasrallah speeches are a warning that the situation will deteriorate in this country,' said Maher Sinno, a shop owner.
'Hezbollah are the strongest on the Lebanese political arena, because they have weapons,' he added.
Hezbollah is the only militia group in Lebanon who still maintain their arms, since the end of the civil war in 1990. The movement argues that their arms are needed to fight Israel.
Hariri was killed in massive car-bomb blast in 2005. His allies have accused Syria and its followers in Lebanon of being behind the murder, a charge Damascus has denied.
In 2007 the UN tribunal was established to try suspects in the murder of Hariri, the father of current premier Saad Hariri.
Reports have indicated that UN prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, will issue indictments this autumn, and that these may point the finger at low-level Hezbollah members.
Nasrallah's firebrand speeches have prompted some outspoken critics of the Iranian-backed movement - like parliamentarian Nadim Gemayel - to announce that 'they will not allow Nasrallah to devastate the country like he did in July 2006.'
Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack in July 2006, prompting Israel to launch a devastating 33-day war against Lebanon, during which 1,200 people, mainly civilians, were killed.
Observers believe that any indictment against Hezbollah might spark a Muslim Sunni-Shiite strife in the country.
'We are counting on the wisdoms of our leaders to contain any possible strife in the country,' said Youssef Daher.
The tension in the country has caused worries in the Arab world, prompting some Arab leaders to intervene to call for stability in Lebanon.
'The stability of Lebanon is not a game that can be manipulated by any party, or a tool used to settle regional or international issues,' Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said.
Abul Gheith's comments coincided with a tour by Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Abdullah which will start in Sharam el Sheikh on Wednesday, where he will meet President Hosny Mubarak of Egypt.
The Saudi King will then continue on to Syria for high-level talks and finish his trip in Lebanon, where the monarch will meet President Michel Suleiman and other high-ranking officials.