The LBC program @Kalamennas is holding a special episode on Saida tonight. Live-blog and translation here: http://qifanabki.com/2013/06/24/reactions-to-the-conflict-in-saida/
#Lebanon, Reactions to the Conflict in Saida on Kalam Ennas
The Lebanese political talk show Kalam Ennas with Marcel Ghanem will be broadcasting a special episode this evening about the confrontation between the Lebanese Army and Ahmad al-Assir’s followers in Saida. I’ll be live-blogging and translating some of the salient bits, providing the webcast holds up.
8:48: Program begins. Qustions: Are we facing a new Fatah al-Islam? What is the future of Ahmad al-Assir? Guests: Bahiya al-Hariri, Imad al-Hout, Michel Elefteriades, Osama Saad, and others. Online poll at the Facebook page: “Do you support the Army in Saida?”
8:51: Playing a clip from Ahmad al-Assir’s visit to Kalam Ennas on March 15 2012. At that time, he said: “I am the imam of a mosque against violence and sectarianism.”
8:53: Bahiya al-Hariri calls in, supporting the Lebanese Army. Our citizens are afraid of returning to Saida. Marcel Ghanem asks her if she supports the continuing military pressure on Assir. She responds by asking how Assir managed to get away in the first place? Who is responsible, asks Ghanem? She says she doesn’t want to point fingers. Emphasizes the importance of Saida and all it has given to the Lebanese nation.
8:59: Hariri: “Any side that uses weapons on the domestic front promote sectarian strife.” She wants to see all sides disarmed, including the pro-Hizbullah brigades in Saida. Ghanem: “Who shot at your house yesterday? Was it Assir’s people?” Hariri: “No it wasn’t. It was the group who occupied the area surrounding my house, and they are allied with Hizbullah.”
9:08: Hariri: The Lebanese Army is our life raft. We support the Army completely. We thank everyone who has worked to restore peace to Saida.
9:19: Clip from March 15 2012 when Assir was a guest on Kalam Ennas: at that time, he said that he wasn’t a salafist, and that anyway this was not a derogatory term in the first place. He is against violence, and the Lebanese Army and authorities are a red line and should not be attacked. If the rights of Islamists are infringed upon, the appropriate state organs should act to address these infringements.
9:24: The Jama`a Islamiyya MP Imad al-Hout tells Marcel Ghanem that there have been many pressures on people in Saida over the past several months. Some people can handle the pressures; others resort to defending themselves.
9:26: Ossama Saad (former Saida MP) says that the issue today is not the (pro-Hizbullah) Resistance Brigades. What we need to talk about is how March 14 created an environment that engendered the rise of people like Assir through its sectarian incitement against the weapons of Hizbullah.
9:29: Another guest: March 14 is responsible for all the pressures that the Army has come under, calling them shabbiha and Safavids (i.e. Persians).
9:32: Michel Elefteriades (owner of Music Hall… and by the way, an FPM officer? Who knew?) is asking why people are attacking the Army today.
9:34: Imad al-Hout says that Assir was provoked into acting. Who provoked him? If not the Army, then who was it? Ghanem responds with a special report by one of his reporters: Army reports suggest that Assir’s militia men included some foreign fighters, and their tactics resembled those of Al-Qaeda and Fatah al-Islam.
9:39: Ossama Saad: Saida is a city of diverse communities: Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Communists, Islamists, Nasserists, progressives, conservatives. To talk about Saida, we have to recognize this reality. For anyone to impose their views on everyone else in the name of religion, this is rejected. Ghanem replies: Isn’t Hizbullah doing the same thing? Saad: Hizbullah is part of the fabric of the city. There are people from Saida who are members of Hizbullah and Amal. What are they forcing on Saida? Ghanem: What about the people who surrounded Bahiyya Hariri’s house? Saad: The geography we’re talking about is a very interpenetrated one. There is a larger context to think about.
to be continued