Many Lebanese politicians have seen attacks by Hezbollah and Amal supporters on anti-government protesters in Beirut’s central district as a direct message to Prime Minister Saad Hariri ahead of his resignation.
Hariri submitted his official written resignation to President Michel Aoun on Tuesday, following a televised address to the protesters. His move came in contradiction to the stance of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who had rejected the collapse of the cabinet.
Sources close to the prime minister noted that recent street violence and attacks on protesters have increased his resolve to make the decision that has been long awaited by the demonstrators.
On Tuesday, Hezbollah and Amal movement supporters wielding sticks and pipes attacked and destroyed a protest camp set up by the anti-government demonstrators near the Grand Serail in central Beirut. They have infiltrated the sit-ins and clashed with protesters several times.
Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said such moves were nothing more than “militia acts against independent and peaceful people.”
“It was an attempt to terrorize the Lebanese and address the crisis with violence in response to Hariri’s decision to refuse to keep the status quo,” he noted.
Kataeb Party MP Elias Hankash said the attacks could have one or two purposes: an attempt by Hezbollah to pressure Hariri to refrain from resigning, or to give him an image of the chaos that would prevail following such a resignation.
Rifi asserted that despite Hezbollah’s attempts to appear as if it was not responsible for all the assaults on the demonstrators, the movement was to blame for the attacks.
Hankash said that since Hezbollah’s plans were linked to external agendas, the movement could have many possible reactions to Hariri’s recent move.
“There is no doubt that the party wanted this government to stay in power, because it is part of it; its fall will delegitimize the party and expose it,” the Kataeb deputy remarked.