Riot erupts in Beirut as Hezbollah supporters attack protesters


Violence erupted in the Lebanese capital on Wednesday, when supporters of Hezbollah and Amal parties violently attacked demonstrators, storming a protest site on the strategic Ring Bridge that connects the capital’s downtown to its west.

Video footage showed assailants, many of whom told local media they were supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, kicking and beating the demonstrators, and throwing rocks and sticks at them and the police.

“I saw people charging towards the ring and the army moved forward to stop them. The army was very responsive. They instructed us to stand behind them so that we can protect you,” Riman Jurdak, one of the protesters, told MEE.

Riot police and the Lebanese army deployed to separate the residents from the protesters.

“They will not scare us. The ring road will not be open. As much as they try, we will not open it. Let them attack us,” a young man told MEE, refusing to give his name.

“The attackers were chanting in support of Nabih Berri as they attacked,” a protester said, in reference to the parliament speaker who is also the head of the Amal Movement. An Amal supporter who gave his name as Ahmed,  told MEE that he had no problem with people protesting, as long as the roads are cleared and the country can return to normal. “All I want is to feed my family,” he said.

The clashes come a day after CNN reported that the governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank, Riad Salameh, said that the country was days away from economic collapse if a political solution could not be found.

Hours later, Salameh told Reuters that the CNN story had not reflected what he told the broadcaster.

“I am not saying that we are going to have a collapse in a matter of days. I am saying we need to have a solution in a matter of days to regain confidence and avoid collapse in the future,” Salameh said.

Lebanon’s banks have been shut for nine working days amid the unprecedented wave of protests across the country. Lenders have said they shut their doors due to safety concerns. Lebanon’s banking association said they will remain closed on Wednesday.

Salameh told Reuters the banks would reopen “as soon as the situation calms down. We didn’t ask them to close”. (Source: Middle East Eye)