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Lebanon On The Edge

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Raging gun battles in the center of Beirut on August 14 claimed the lives of seven people and raised the grim specter that Lebanon may be returning to the era of sectarian violence that climaxed with the outbreak of the civil war from 1975 to 1990.

Fighting erupted after two influential Shi’a Muslim militias, Hezbollah and Amal, demanded the removal of the lead judge investigating last year’s devastating and still mysterious explosion at Beirut port that levelled parts of the city and killed 215 of its residents.

Hezbollah and Amal claim that the judge, Tarek Bitar, intends to blame them for the blast, which was caused by the combustion of 2,750 tons of highly volatile chemicals stored in a shed.

Hezbollah accused the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia, of igniting the violence. Samir Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces, claimed that Hezbollah was exploiting sectarian tensions to torpedo Bitar’s investigation and suggested that Hezbollah’s arsenal of “uncontrolled and widespread weapons” was destabilizing Lebanon.

Hezbollah has accumulated some 150,000 rockets and refuses to disarm under the terms of a United Nations resolution. Closely aligned with Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has been embroiled........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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