Similar to previous attacks against peaceful anti-government protests, pro-Iranian Shi’ite activists unexpectedly faced riot police during their attempted approach to one of the major squares in the city center. Violence immediately ensued, necessitating the use of crowd dispersal methods by security forces when the Hezbollah and Amal hurled rocks and rioters burned tires.
While the situation is still tense, a Lebanese source told TV7 that previous “concerns over the country possibly plummeting into civil war is currently viewed as highly unlikely.” The political situation nevertheless remains critical, as Lebanon struggles to overcome the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. A new prime minister has yet been nominated to form a ruling government since the resignation of former Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri in response to the mass nationwide protests against the country’s ruling elite that erupted in October.
An Israeli security official told TV7 that Jerusalem continues to monitor events in the neighboring state closely, to assure that Hezbollah – operation under directives from its patron, Iran – could potentially exploit the current turmoil to launch a possible attack against the Jewish State from the north, as a pretext to seize additional powers in Lebanon.