Lebanon Protests Escalate, Erupt in Major Violence
Lebanese security forces in Beirut have intensified a crackdown on anti-government protests that for two months have rocked a country long plagued by sectarianism and currently on the verge of economic collapse. More than 130 people were reportedly injured Sunday as police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators from the capital’s center and from other areas close to parliament. This came hours after protesters in northern Lebanon torched the offices of two main political parties, including that of caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who in late October resigned along with his cabinet in response to the civil unrest. The other attack targeted the local headquarters of parliament’s largest party, which is affiliated with President Michel Aoun, an ally of Iranian proxy Hizbullah. While Aoun earlier this month vowed to quickly form a new government, members of competing factions representing Sunnis, Shi’ites and Maronite Christians – the country’s three primary religious sects – were unable to reach an agreement. Lebanon’s protests have been fueled primarily by anger over perceived government corruption as well as growing opposition to Iran’s influence in the nation, which is projected through Hizbullah.