Ok, Harryzzz is back. Very sorry for not posting anything lately, but hey, the moment people start paying me for this stuff I'll take in complaints...
Here in Beirut; preperations for two important events on Thursday, Valentine's Day:
Pro-government Sunni's, some Druze and some christians are preparing for the commemoration of the death of ex-PM Rafik Hariri, on Thursday 14th of February, exactly three years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in down town Beirut. That is, if it doesn't rain, because it is currently very, very crappy weather here...
In the meantime, Shia's of the Hezbollah opposition are preparing, also on Thursday, for a funeral, in Beirut's southern neighbourhoods, of Imad Moghniyeh, one of the military commanders of Hezbollah, who was killed on Tuesday in the Syrian captial Damascus.
There is an enormous rivalry between both sides (pro and anti-government), so if both groups meet on Thursday....don't expect a Valentine's atmosphere but instead very serious problems. Something like poor Cupido on the picture, above.
I just drove through Beirut (around 22.00 hours on Wednesday).
At the moment, the situation is as follows:
- Enormous army presence in and around downtown Beirut.
- Because of fears for car bombs, all vehicles are banned in and around down town Beirut. Luckily I live just outside the no-car zone so your reporter will be able to use his beloved Audi A8 to drive from Hariri-meeting to Hezbollah-funeral.
- Every where in Beirut supporters of Hariri are pretty excited. Loud bangs because of fire crackers. I also heard a lot of real shooting (in the air I guess). In Sunni area's of West-Beirut small convoys with Hariri-supporters are driving around waving flags...
- In the Shia area's, in South Beirut, no shootings nor fire crackers. People here are mourning the death of the Hezbollah-commander. Others are sincerely shocked: How was Israel able to kill such a senior Hezbollah commander and, worse, not in Beirut, but in Damascus?
Just to get the idea of how big this is for Hezbollah, below the Hezbollah statement:
"In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least). Almighty Allah has spoken the truth.
With pride and honor, we announce the martyrdom of a great resistance leader who joined the procession of Islamic Resistance martyrs. After a life full of Jihad, sacrifices and accomplishments lived with a longing to martyrdom, Islamic Resistance leader Hajj Imad Moghniyeh (Hajj Radwan) was assassinated by Israeli criminal hands. The martyr, may his soul rest in peace, had been a target for the Zionists for more than 20 years. Almighty Allah has chosen him to be a martyr on the hands of His Prophet's killers who know that we have a long battle with them and the blood of martyrs especially our leaders has always taken our resistance to a higher and stronger level, just like when our two great leaders, Sheikh Ragheb Harb and Sayyed Abbas Moussawi were martyred.
We pledge to continue the martyr's path until achieving complete victory, God willing. We offer our sincere condolences to the martyr's family and his brothers in arms and we congratulate all resistance fighters for the Divine legion of honor."
Hariri-meeting will start around 10.00 o'clock (in down town), Hezbollah funeral around 14.30 (in the Sayyed el Shuhada' hall, the same place where Ashura is being organised). There are strong rumours about Hariri supporters aiming to destroy the Hezbollah tent-camp in down town Beirut on Thursday.
I've got no idea of what to expect. Valentine's Day might stay very calm or might plunge this country into a civil war - again.
Pretty weird that in a country where Valentine's Day is very much celebrated by young couples, the choice on Thursday will be between either roses or blood. Because roses are red, and so is blood...