Citizens accuse Lebanon’s Hezbollah of aiding government to ‘rob their livelihoods’

A demonstrator takes part in an anti-government protest in the southern city of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon October 21, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2019

Citizens accuse Lebanon’s Hezbollah of aiding government to ‘rob their livelihoods’

  • The Hezbollah movement saw demonstrations criticising the party and revered leader Hasan Nasrallah
  • Citizens accused the party of providing political cover for a corrupt government that they say has robbed people of their livelihoods

BEIRUT: When mass anti-government protests engulfed Lebanon, a taboo was broken as strongholds of the Hezbollah movement saw demonstrations criticising the party and revered leader Hasan Nasrallah.
On live TV and in protest sites, citizens accused the party of providing political cover for a corrupt government that they say has robbed people of their livelihoods.
This shattered the myth of absolute acquiesence among Hezbollah's popular base, baffling even those who hail from the movement's strongholds.
"No one ever expected that in any of these areas in south Lebanon we would hear a single word against Nasrallah," or Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri, said Sara, a 32-year-old activist who participated in protests in the southern city of Nabatiyeh.
"It's unbelievable," the activist added, asking to use a pseudonym due to security concerns.
The Iran-backed movement is a major political player that took 13 seats in the country's May 2018 parliamentary elections and secured three cabinet posts.
It helped its Christian ally Michel Aoun assume the presidency in 2016 and has since backed his government despite popular dissatisfaction that peaked last week following protests over taxes, corruption and dire economic conditions.
South Lebanon - a bastion of the powerful Shiite movement  - was not spared.
Protests have been reported in the cities of Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, and Tyre, where Hezbollah and its political affiliate the Amal Movement hold sway.
With the exception of Tyre, they were not as big as other parts of the country.
But "the novelty here is that some of these protesters are party loyalists," said Sara.
"They support Hezbollah, but they are suffocating."
But anti-government protests that started in Beirut on October 17 and quickly spread across the country left no politician unscathed, not even the Hezbollah leader.
"All of them means all of them, Nasrallah is one of them," protesters chanted in Beirut.
Criticism of Nasrallah even aired on the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV, in a scene that was previously unfathomable for watchers of the movement's propaganda arm.
In a live interview from central Beirut, one protester urged Nasrallah to "look after his people in Lebanon" instead of focusing on regional enterprises like Syria, where he has deployed fighters to defend President Bashar Al-Assad's regime.
Nasrallah acknowledged the mounting criticism against him in a speech on Saturday: "Curse me, I don't mind."
 


Kuwait’s emir reappoints premier, removes defense and interior ministers

Updated 55 min 34 sec ago

Kuwait’s emir reappoints premier, removes defense and interior ministers

  • Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah asked Sheikh Jaber to form a new cabinet, state news agency KUNA said

DUBAI: Kuwait’s ruling emir on Monday reappointed Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah as prime minister but removed the defense and interior ministers, both senior members of the ruling family, from their posts after the government’s resignation last week.

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah asked Sheikh Jaber to form a new cabinet, state news agency KUNA said. Sheikh Jaber last week submitted the government’s resignation when lawmakers sought a no-confidence vote against the interior minister.

KUNA said in a separate statement that the emir ordered the removal of his son, Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Interior Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah from their posts in the current caretaker cabinet.