Lebanon uprising wins Shiite fiefs

The Hezbollah and Amal movements are no longer spared by the anti-system protest that is shaking the country.

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During an anti-government demonstration in Tire, southern Lebanon, on 22 October. AZIZ TAHER / REUTERS

In the south of Lebanon, they are everywhere: hanging on the street lights, plastered on the walls of cities, planted along the olive groves: the green flags of Amal and yellow of Hezbollah, the two heavyweights of the Shiite political scene , saturate the field of vision. It is impossible to ignore them and to miss the message they are hammering away: this land torn apart by history, which still bears the marks of the civil war (1975-1990), the Israeli occupation (1978-2000) and the 2006 war against Israel, belongs to them. South Lebanon is theirs.

And yet, for a week, the Shiite tandem, which wins every time all the seats allocated to its community, is in turmoil. The anti-system protest movement that has taken hold of Beirut and the north of the country has not spared its stronghold in the south. Tire and Nabatiye, the two major cities, are shaken daily by demonstrations of several thousand people, demanding the resignation of the government, which Amal and Hezbollah participate, under the leadership of the Sunni Prime Minister, Saad Hariri.

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The center of both localities resonates with slogans hostile to the ruling parties: carelessness, nepotism, corruption, sectarianism … A deluge of recriminations, including the head of Amal, the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, is one of the main targets and to which the Party of God, the meaning in Arabic of Hezbollah, does not completely escape, despite its aura of liberator, inherited from his victory, in 2000 on the Israeli troops. "A taboo was broken. This is the first time that criticisms are made in the South, in public, against these two parties, says Ali Mourad, law professor at the Arab University of Beirut.

"Great Mafia"

In Tire, the high place of the rallies is the place of the flag, a roundabout facing the sea. A hundred demonstrators are already there, Wednesday, October 23, in the late morning, protecting themselves from the first rains of the season under a canvas awning. "Southern politicians have exploited fear born of civil war and the Israeli invasion, grumbled a businessman who refuses to give his name. They turned it against us to impose their will and use our voices for private purposes. All these people are a great mafia, who practices the racket in suit and tie. "

Here as on the place of the governorate of Nabatiyah, the place of meeting of the protesters, the clan Berri is accused of having set the region in regulated section. The famous initials of "rais el-majles" (the "president of the room"), without which the Lebanese Shiites can not get jobs in the public sector, and the "51%" no less famous than his wife, Randa , would require getting in any economic project in the south are on everyone's lips. "If you want to send your son to university, get a refund from a hospital bill, get a job in a department or win a public contract, you need a wasta (piston) Berri ", fumes Hatem Alawi, one of the organizers of the sling of Tire.


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