Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 17th, 2019

Pro-Hezbollah, Amal Mob Destroy Beirut Protest Camp, Hariri Looks Set to Quit

Pro-Hezbollah, Amal Mob Destroy  Beirut Protest Camp, Hariri  Looks Set to Quit

BEIRUT - A mob loyal to Shi’ite groups Hezbollah and Amal attacked and destroyed a camp set up by anti-government demonstrators in central Beirut on Tuesday as Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri looked set to resign.
There was no comment from Hariri’s office. He will deliver an address at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), an official Twitter account said. Two official sources earlier told Reuters that Hariri was likely to resign.
In central Beirut, black-clad men wielding sticks and pipes destroyed the protest camp that has been the focal point of countrywide rallies against a political elite accused of rampant corruption and steering Lebanon toward economic collapse.
The show of force came after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last week roads closed by protesters should be reopened and suggested the demonstrators were financed by its foreign enemies and implementing their agenda.
Smoke rose as some of the tents were set ablaze. Hezbollah and Amal supporters had earlier fanned out in the downtown area of the capital shouting “Shia, Shia” in reference to themselves and cursing protesters.
“With our blood and lives we offer ourselves as a sacrifice for you Nabih,” they chanted in reference to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Amal Movement. “We heed your call, we heed your call, Nasrallah,” they added.
Security forces did not intervene to stop the assault, in which protesters were hit with sticks and were seen appealing for help as they ran, witnesses said. Tear gas was eventually fired to disperse the crowds.
Nationwide protests since Oct. 17 have paralyzed Lebanon at a time of deep economic crisis - banks were closed for a 10th day on Tuesday along with schools and businesses, with the pegged Lebanese pound weakening on a black market.
Hariri’s resignation would defy the powerful Hezbollah - Nasrallah has twice said that he was against such a step, citing the risk of a dangerous void.
Hariri last week sought to defuse popular anger through a set of reform measures agreed with other groups in his coalition government, including Hezbollah to, among other things, tackle corruption and long-delayed economic reforms.
But with no immediate steps toward enacting these steps, they did not satisfy demonstrators whose demands include the resignation of his coalition government.
One of the sources, a senior official from outside Hariri’s Future Party, told Reuters the premier would “most probably” announce the government resignation on Tuesday. The report weighed on Lebanese dollar bonds. (Reuters)