In the last 24 hours, violence in Lebanon has been escalating hourly into a full-scale emergency. Two major incidents on Tuesday have fueled the violence, leading Interior Minister Marwan Charbel to call for a "State of Political Emergency," and for a decision about whether to impose a state of "Military Emergency." Charbel said that there must be "a political decision by all the parties to lift the cover [of immunity] off any gunmen" under their control, as all sectarian groups have armed militias -- in order to allow the government security forces to take over the streets.
The two incidents on Tuesday, May 22, that have inflamed the already bloody situation were: (1) the kidnapping of Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims by the Syria Free Army, as their convoy was returning to Lebanon and passed through Syria from Iran's holy shrines; and, (2) the release of accused terrorist Sunni leader Shadi al-Mawlawi from jail on $333.00 bail.
Russia Today describes the kidnapping: "[T]he bus loaded with Shi'ite pilgrims was stopped by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), say families of the men. `The FSA said they took them. They let the women go and kept the men. They told them that they will keep them until the Syrian army releases FSA detainees,' one relative said. Angry families blocked several streets in southern Beirut, burning tires in protest."
But the families stopped after (Shi'ite) Hezbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for restraint in a televised address. "It is not acceptable for anyone to block roads or carry out violent acts," he said.
Meanwhile, after 9 days in custody, charged with being a member of a terrorist group, Al-Mawlawi said that he was really arrested for aiding Syrian refugees, and that he had been "forced to make confessions under pressure and torture," reported Naharnet. Immediately after his release, Al-Mawlawi gave speeches in Beirut, where two people had been killed in the last 48 hours in sectarian clashes, and then moved on to Tripoli, which the Syrian government has identified as a "stronghold for terrorism" against Syria.
All this occurs against the backdrop of the killing of Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmed Abdul Waled on Sunday, by Lebanon soldiers at a checkpoint.
Free Patriotic Movement leader, MP Michel Aoun, who is a Christian in alliance with the Shi'ites of Hezbollah and Amal in the Change and Reform bloc, has been speaking out against Lebanon's being destroyed through a new civil war, due to foreign intervention.
In a statement Tuesday, Aoun "slammed" those Lebanese who are calling for the arrest of the soldiers at the checkpoint where Abdul Wahed and another cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Merheb, were killed. "The incident at the checkpoint was premeditated as they want to undermine the authority of the army," Aoun said, adding that "the army will remain the only power that we can trust."
Aoun also commented on the Syrian Foreign Ministry letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in which it said that Tripoli and Akkar are strongholds for terrorism, reported NOW Lebanon.
"[The letter did not contain] lies. I do not know about Jounieh [being a stronghold for terrorism], but in Tripoli, it is not a lie. You saw with your own eyes," Aoun told reporters.
Aoun said that US Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman had called for establishing a buffer zone for the Free Syrian Army in northern Lebanon, when they had visited that country, touring the north, during the first days of May,-- undoubtedly a true charge. Already during April, the US Ambassador to Beirut, Maura Connelly, was caught out making the same demand in private to all of Lebanon's top leaders. After they went public with their refusals, Connelly tried to claim that they had all "misunderstood" her. Lyndon LaRouche retorted then that they had understood her only too well.
An Egyptian journalist recalled to EIR today, that the original Blair-Obama-Saudi plan for regime-change in Syria called for establishment of rebel-held buffer zones in Syria itself, on the model of Benghazi earlier in Libya. When that plan was defeated by the Syrian army, northern Lebanon became the chosen location for such a zone.