Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 12:59 UK

Mid-East press alarm over Lebanon strike

Hezbollah-led opposition supporters blocked roads in Beirut with burning barricades
Opposition supporters blocked roads in Beirut with burning barricades

Papers in Lebanon and the wider region fear that political and sectarian tensions are escalating, as opposition protests continue following Wednesday's general strike.

Several Lebanese commentators say the root cause of the dispute is the long-standing tension between the Hezbollah-led opposition and the Western- and Saudi-backed government.


Was the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora unaware of the suffering endured by the Lebanese people in getting bread? ... Will the strike last for one, two or three days? Nobody knows as it has in some instances taken on a sectarian dimension.


Hezbollah can get out of the impasse only through carrying out qualitative change that proves it is a Lebanese party which does not threaten the Lebanese people or anybody else.


Over the past 48 hours, the Lebanese people have reached a critical juncture: they know the secret which everybody knows, namely that government forces want to get rid of Hezbollah and opposition forces want to get rid of the government.


Perhaps what is required is to take steps that might be considered undemocratic; but the need to save democracy might justify them... The peaceful coup which we are urging Commander of the Armed Forces, Gen Michel Suleiman, to carry out is contrary to coup in its real meaning. It would in fact be the last legitimate constitutional attempt to maintain the republic and its presidency.


What happened in Lebanon is a rehearsal of what the small country is expected to witness over the coming days. It is the fruit of the divisions that run through the Arab world and the Middle East.


To have a full picture of the situation, we should first admit that Hezbollah is acting as if it is a state within the state. This is because of its strong belief that the government of Siniora is incapable, unqualified and unwilling to protect Lebanon, and that it only follows Washington and co-ordinates with it in everything related to the future and the fate of Lebanon.


Hezbollah is being unjustly stripped of its weapons and its communications' network, leaving it without weapons in facing the Israeli army... This is what those who have special interests want. They are arranging the situation in Lebanon based on the desires of the US administration so that Israel alone possesses weapons.


Looming over the current state of division is the prospect of Lebanon slipping into further turmoil through which it will become liable to power-sharing or international custody being imposed.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Clashes as strike grips Lebanon
07 May 08 |  Middle East

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