Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist movement warned on Friday that a power vacuum could tip the country into civil war, suggesting that adversaries including the United States and Israel were seeking to exploit an unprecedented wave of demonstrations to provoke conflict. Hezbollah thinks the Lebanese people are stupid.
The terrorist organization believes it can regurgitate its spineroo, and the people of Lebanon protesting a just cause would simply melt away from the charisma of its turban-flaunting leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Lebanon has been swept by more than a week of nationwide protests against a political elite accused of corruption, mismanagement of the state finances and leading the country toward an economic collapse unseen since the 1975-90 civil war.
A report from credit rating agency S&P was the latest to sound the alarm over the financial situation. Banks remain closed and have said they will only reopen when life returns to normal.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose movement is part of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s coalition government, urged his followers to stay away from the protests after they clashed with demonstrators in Beirut.
Instead Friday’s demonstrations were more powerful than ever before.
The heavily armed Shi’ite group, loyal to Iran, is widely seen as the most powerful player in Lebanon. It is part of an Iranian-led regional alliance that is in conflict with U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states.
Nasrallah said the demonstrations that began spontaneously had been exploited by regional and international foes.
He reiterated Hezbollah’s rejection of the resignation of the Hariri government and any move to topple Hezbollah’s Christian ally, President Michel Aoun. He said it would leave a void. In other words, better corruption than no corruption. Honestly, Nasrallah believes the people of Lebanon are stupid.
HEZBOLLAH THINKS THE LEBANESE PEOPLE ARE STUPID
In view of the difficult financial, economic and living situation in the country, in view of security and political tensions that are prevailing in the region … a vacuum will lead to chaos, to collapse. I am afraid that there are those who want to take our country and generate social, security and political tensions and to take it to civil war. God willing nothing like this will happen … but I tell you there is information and doubts about this matter.
The protests took a more violent turn on Friday when groups supporting Hezbollah pushed into a peaceful demonstration in Beirut, scuffling with protesters and forcing riot police to intervene.
Dressed in black t-shirts common to Hezbollah supporters, the men shouted “We heed your call, Nasrallah”.
It injured several protesters in the scuffles, witnesses said.
The terrorist organization is beginning to terrorize the Lebanese people as well.
After Nasrallah spoke, Hezbollah thuggish supporters waving the group’s yellow flag took to the streets of the southern suburbs of Beirut, the group’s stronghold.
Physiotherapist Bilal al Baba, 28, demonstrating in central Beirut, said:
They’re trying to scare us with war. But they are the generation of war, we are an educated generation and know how to get along with one another.
Another protester, Maria, said Nasrallah’s speech encouraged her and her friends to come back out to protest.
Nasrallah urged protesters to accept Aoun’s invitation for dialogue. Aoun has suggested a cabinet reshuffle was on the table.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s said the government’s limited ability to address the demonstrators’ demands could harm confidence in the banks and adversely effect foreign exchange reserves.
Lebanon’s banking association has held crisis meetings with the central bank governor and president in recent days. The association is in search of a way to reopen banks amid growing fears that a rush on them could deplete dwindling foreign currency deposits.
One senior banker said:
Right now we’re using the pretext of the demonstrations not to open. We are afraid that when we open people will rush to withdraw their money or transfer it abroad.
He said banks were seeking a common policy to meet the needs of customers. The central bank governor has so far avoided capital controls that would likely stop expatriates from sending remittances.
As politicians ponder ways out, financial strains are mounting in Lebanon, one of the world’s most heavily indebted states.
Capital inflows needed to finance the state deficit and pay for imports have been slowing down. This generated financial pressures not seen in decades, including the emergence of a black market for dollars.
While the central bank’s foreign currency reserves were enough to service government debt in the near term, risks to government creditworthiness have risen, S&P said.
Lebanon’s central bank governor and finance minister could not immediately be reached for comment on the S&P report.
There has so far been no financial support from countries which have in the past aided Lebanon. No western or Gulf Arab countries willing to help. Not as long as Hezbollah controls the country.
The European Union said it supports Hariri’s reforms.
The EU statement said:
We are confident that the authorities will respond swiftly and wisely to legitimate aspirations of the Lebanese people.
Reuters contributed to this article.