Leaflet threats by Syrian-sponsored Muslim fanatics to wage a war of “kitchen knives” against a fledgling anti-Syria coalition of major Christian and leftist groups may provide an alibi for president Lahoud’s regime to clamp a ban on all public rallies marking the civil war anniversary.
Leaflets tossed into scores of mosques, key intersections and low-income Muslim-populated neighborhoods of Beirut called for a massive turn out of Muslims to confront the new coalition activists with “your teeth, fists, clubs and kitchen knives” April 11.
Army and police patrols made no move to stop the leaflet broad daylight distributors as they agitated against the April 11 rally called by the coalition to “proclaim the end of the civil war” at downtown Beirut’s Martyr Square.
Sponsors of the rally are Druze leader Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party, exiled Gen. Michel Aoun’s Free National Movement, jailed Christian Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces, the Communist Party, Leftist politician Najah Wakim’s Democratic Forum and the Leftist Groupings.
The PSP fielded the mightiest Muslim militia in the 1975-1990 civil war and the Communists were aligned with Jumblat’s fighting machine.
The now outlawed Lebanese Forces was the Christian camp’s main militia. Gen. Aoun, who was interim prime minister and army commander from 1988 to 1990, waged an ill-starred ‘War of Liberation’ against the Syrian Army and another ‘War of Obliteration’ against the LF before he was banished to France in 1991.
Wakim, a sulfur-tongued leftist politician who was long allied with Syria, had banned his supporters from joining the civil war. He has lately formed the Democratic Forum with the avowed objective of stopping Syria from spoiling Lebanon’s political life.
The rally scheduled for Wednesday at the downtown commercial district, which was the scene of some of the heaviest civil war battles, has been seen as a manifestation by the main antagonists that they have made their own peace and would not go to war again if the Syrian army leaves Lebanon.
The agitation for a Muslim counter-rally was seen as a muscle-flexing Syrian message to remind the standard-bearer of the campaign against its tutelage, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, that President Bashar Assad’s regime has massive backing in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese society is being pushed to the brink of explosion and the national unity is being nudged toward a total collapse in a vulgar leaflet campaign waged to frighten the advocates of Syria’s exit,” wrote An-Nahar’s columnist Nicholas Nassif.
He said the regime now has the alibi to call a ban on all public rallies called for the civil war anniversary next week.
There were reports already circulating in Beirut that Christian Leftist coalition rally was cancelled to avoid clashes with fanatic Muslims.