Here are a few news bits and rumours I picked up from around the web after most of the fighting died down this evening.
Two rumours on the [anti-Syrian] Kataeb (Phalangist) website caught my attention:
- According to the exclusive information made available to the site, two pro-Syrian Druze loyal to Talal Arslan and killed earlier this evening in clashes with FM supporters in Khaldeh, were actually killed by [Iranian-backed] Hizballah militiamen in an apparent case of 'friendly fire'.
- Now this one really worries me: The Kataeb website also reported the heavy presence of armed partisans of the [pro-Syrian ... obviously] Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP) in the mountain town of Dhour Choueir [in the Metn district, just north of Beirut], where the group is historically based. The report was ominous given the statements of an SSNP spokesperson earlier in the day.
The worry for me is the following: Hizballah finds itself in a bind in Beirut - internationally, it is viewed as a non-legitimate force which has aggressed a democratically elected government; within the Arab/Islamic world it is seen as the Shiite aggressor against the Sunni Lebanese; and it is politically/militarily unable to hold large swaths of a hostile Beirut for longer than a few days, at which time it will have to hand control to the Army and its Commander, Michel Suleiman, thereby returning the country to an equilibrium already agreed upon politically the only difference being its having exposed its weapons by using them internally against fellow Lebanese.
Given the government's pledge to stay put (and not resign), and given the importance of time and image (as highlighted above) it seems to me that it is imperative for Hizballah to spread the conflict beyond the borders of a Sunni-Shiite conflict in Beirut by calling on its allies, such as the SSNP, to draw Christian [and Druze] parties into the brawl and spreading the fight to other parts of Lebanon.
By doing so, it can divert the Army Commander's attention from assuming any powers/positions other than those he will have to attend to throughout the country, and it can lift the image of it having caused a fitna between the country's Muslims on behalf of its regional backer Iran (which is exactly what Hizballah did).
Meanwhile, El Nashra, a news/rumour website which reports news along "opposition lines" continued running a story claiming the death of two PSP partisans in the fighting in Aley. The fighters were named as Marwan Abu Kheir and Adel Zeineddine. No news services [OTV and its sister-station Al Manar don't count], as of yet (which is to say 8 hours after the alleged deaths were said to have taken place) have confirmed the story.
Quoting security services, the website (El Nashra) reported 18 deaths and 54 wounded as a result of fighting over the past three days.
Finally, for our last tidbit of [worrying] news we go across the oceans to the Great Satan itself where a surging presidential nominee provides plenty of ground proving why he shouldn't be President of the world's sole superpower. Jeha and Abu Kais provide ample commentary ...
... Allah yesa3idna (translation: God help us!), the sun is rising over Beirut, we'll see what another day brings.