13th of May

“I am a hostage now in my home in Beirut,” (Junblatt) said. “Tell Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah I lost the battle and he wins. So let’s sit and talk to reach a compromise. All that I ask is your protection.” (…) “The U.S. has failed in Lebanon and they have to admit it,” he said. “We have to wait and see the new rules which Hizbollah, Syria, and Iran will set. They can do what they want.”

On Sunday, former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak said Hezbollah’s persistent attempts to take over Lebanon could eventually benefit Israel in its struggle against the militant group. “If an armed conflict erupts it will be simpler to strike Lebanon when Hezbollah is the legitimate ruler,” Shahak told the Army Radio. Earlier on Sunday, Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon told cabinet members that Lebanon must be viewed as a “Hezbollah state,” after the Shiite guerilla group seized control over the western part of the Lebanese capital over the weekend. “Lebanon has no government. It is a fiction, there is only Hezbollah,” Ramon said during the weekly cabinet meeting. “Hezbollah is directly responsible for everything that happens [in Lebanon], and the organization completely controls the state.”

Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces militiamen are reported to be deploying in Sodeco. Quads carrying suspiciously gun-sized boxes are driving on and off through the streets of Ashrafiyeh. The Lebanese army has announced it will from today onwards use force to remove armed men from the streets – provided, one may assume, that they are not of, or with, Hizbullah. Salafist sunni groups in Tripoli and the north have declared jihad on Hizbullah and the rest of the opposition. In Ouzai (south Beirut, close to Sabra) Hizbullah fighters have clashed with members of the Shamas family, one of these powerful clans from the Bekaa valley who, although shias, have never gotten along with HA really well.

The blog Lebanese Political Journal tries to puzzle together an account of the Chouf battle: ‘The Druze community in the Chouf utterly defeated Hezbollah’s attack. On the very first night of Chouf combat, the Druze community in Aley armed with hunting rifles, kalashnikovs, and a few RPGs killed approxiamately 21 Hezbollah soldiers and captured two others. In a later conflict, Iranian “observers” were captured in Aley, according to a local source. (…) Druze members of the Hezbollah allied Syrian Social Nationalist Party sided with their community against their political ally. One Druze SSNP member argues, “when your guard dog becomes too powerful, you need to think about putting it to sleep.” This was a war for survival. Thirteen Hezbollah vehicles invaded the Chouf from the Bekaa Valley, but were captured in Barouk and Niha. Barouk is one of Lebanon’s few wildlife sanctuaries. The sanctuary is a pet project of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and his wife Nora, who is of Shia origins. It is one of the few places in Lebanon where the Cedar of Lebanon grows; thus it is a symbolic site for both the Druze leader and Lebanon. Niha is where the Druze religious leader the Sheikh al Aql lives. It is a religious pilgrimage site, Naby Ayoub, or St. Job. Hezbollah attacked a holy place, and were rightly prevented from committing acts of violence there. According to media reports, the Druze community dragged out World War II era 160 millimeter shells to defend themselves. Friends living in Dahieh report that they observed the Druze descending down the mountain towards Hezbollah dominated Dahieh. She claims that ordinance (but unsure of what type) hit Dahieh and set off car alarms in her area. Many local residents fled. The Druze community made sure that Hezbollah knew that the Shia community, too, is vulnerable to attack.’

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