Monday, May 26, 2008

Iran’s Hezbollahistan

Lebanon swore into office a new president and the Toronto Star swoons:
BEIRUT–Backed by most of Lebanon's major communities and their international patrons, former army chief of staff Michel Suleiman ascended to the presidency of this volatile Mediterranean country yesterday.

The 60-year-old Maronite Christian general took the oath of office amid high hopes that he would help heal the country's festering political rift between the U.S. and Saudi-backed government and the opposition, led by Hezbollah, the Iranian- and
Syrian-backed Shiite militant and political movement.

Suleiman's election by lawmakers, viewed as a temporary fix to a months-long political crisis, came days after Hezbollah gunmen stormed West Beirut and subsequently won an agreement that it remain armed and have enough cabinet seats to veto major government decisions. Many people hope, however, that Suleiman, with strong ties both to Hezbollah and the support of Western-leaning groups, will be able to pull the country together.

AFP carries this report on Nasrallah’s speech:
BEIRUT (AFP) — Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Monday that his powerful militant movement was not seeking control of Lebanon, in a fiery speech on new President Michel Sleiman's first full day in office.

"Hezbollah does not want power over Lebanon, nor does it want to control Lebanon or govern the country," Nasrallah told tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters massed in his stronghold in southern Beirut.

Nasrallah pledged that his Shiite Muslim group would not use its weapons to achieve political gains, in a speech marking the eighth anniversary of Israel's pullout from south Lebanon following a two-decade occupation. "For we believe that Lebanon is a special, pluralistic country. The existence of this country only comes about through coexistence, and this is what we are demanding," he said via a video link.

The end result – The Jerusalem Post:
Security officials say at least nine people have been wounded, two seriously, in a gunfight in downtown Beirut between Hizbullah Shiite supporters and pro-government Sunni loyalists. Officials said the two sides traded insults before the shooting Monday night as Hizbullah supporters drove by waving flags and saluting leader Hassan Nasrallah shortly after he finished giving a speech.

I believe pluralism in this instance refers to both sides firing back…..

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