Lebanon Prime Minister Hariri resigns, Hezbollah confronts protesters

The protesters, from all sectors and groups in Lebanon, chanted “Kullun yaani Kullun,” meaning “all of them means all of them,” to emphasize that the entire government must step down.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of the government on Tuesday after thirteen days of protests seized the country, as members of the Hezbollah terrorist movement violently attacked protesters in Beirut.
“I tried to find a way to listen to the people's demands and to protect the country from security, economic and living risks,” said Hariri, according to Lebanese broadcaster MTV. “Today, I have reached a dead end and we need a positive shock to end the crisis”
"Positions come and go, but the dignity and safety of the country remains," stated Hariri, stressing that  "no one is more important than their country.”
Hariri’s resignation means the entire government has resigned and will only function until new elections are held.
Lebanese officials attempted to discourage Hariri from resigning, according to MTV Lebanon. Hariri feared the worst case scenario, which led him to his decision.
Hariri supported a political solution while other officials supported a solution based on security measures.
The announcement did not get the Lebanese people to step down, as protesters continued to block streets throughout the country.
New tents were brought to the Riad al-Solh Square to replace those that were destroyed by Hezbollah members.
While the prime minister was ready to listen to the demands of protesters, Hezbollah members attempted to violently drive demonstrators from the streets of Lebanon.
Members of Hezbollah took to the streets in order to drive out protesters and open roads by order of the movement’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, according to Al-Arabiya.
11 people were wounded in the attacks in which gunfire was heard and protesters were attacked by a group of men with knives at Beirut's Martyrs' Square. Shortly before, youth in black shirts destroyed tents and scared off protesters without any interference by security forces, according to Lebanese broadcaster MTV.
The group of youth, who are widely being identified as members of the Hezbollah terrorist group and the pro-Hezbollah Amal Party, requested that everyone leave the square as they ran through tearing down tents and beating protesters with sticks. The youth also threw rocks at the Lebanese Army and protesters.
The youth seem to have orders to break tents and scare protesters without being exposed, according to an MTV correspondent.
At least at first, Lebanese security forces did not get involved.
"Security forces remain calm and unbothered as a group of men wearing black shirts attack protesters with sticks in Martyrs' Square," said an MTV Lebanon correspondent.
The Lebanese Army refused to intervene when clashes broke out on the Ring Bridge in Beirut on Tuesday, when a group which was largely identified as Hezbollah members began attacking protesters, according to MTV Lebanon.
An MTV correspondent called the incident "shameful" as security forces didn't intervene at a time when "elderly people and women are being beaten."
Riot police and the Lebanese Army were deployed throughout Beirut to stop the clashes and protect protesters.
Amal and Hezbollah supporters roamed downtown Beirut on motorcycles to confront demonstrations.
"We tell the prime minister of Lebanon and the minister of interior and minister of defense that what is happening in Beirut today is flawed and it is your responsibility," said former member of parliament Fares Souaid, according to MTV Lebanon. "I warn of the situation in Beirut because if it continues it will take another turn."
"Here is the official sponsor of the government, using the means it excels at including intimidation and bullying in the face of the finest uprising in Lebanon in its history, but the will of the Lebanese people will remain the strongest," said president of the Kataeb party Samy Gemayel.
Recent days have seen increased violence among the protests as supporters of the Hezbollah terrorist group and the pro-Hezbollah Amal party clash with anti-government protesters.
On Monday, unidentified gunmen opened fire at a protesters' tent on a highway in the western Bekaa Valley, according to the Lebanese National News Agency. The bullets hit a water tank that provides the town with water, causing panic. The shooters fled from the scene in a black car to an unknown location.
Since Nasrallah spoke out against the protesters’ demand for the government to step down, Hezbollah and Amal supporters have been attacking and intimidating protesters, although Lebanese security officials usually held them off.
In his speech on Friday, Nasrallah warned that some are preparing for a civil war in Lebanon, while mentioning that Hezbollah is the strongest party in Lebanon. "It is the responsibility of Hezbollah to protect Lebanon at home as well," said Nasrallah.
The Hezbollah leader rejected calls for early elections and refused to resign from the government. Hariri’s decision to resign the government takes the choice out of Nasrallah’s hands.
Throughout the protests, protesters have chanted “Kullun yaani Kullun,” meaning “all of them means all of them,” to emphasize that the entire government must step down, often using the statement to emphasize that this includes Hezbollah.
The protests had no established leadership and there has been no indication of who will run for or lead a new government.