Riots In Beirut Lebanon As Pro-Government Sunnis Clash With Shiite Hezbollah Supporters – US Pledges Money To Rebuild

Riots In Beirut Lebanon As Pro-Government Sunnis Clash With Shiite Hezbollah Supporters – US Pledges Money To Rebuild

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Chaos broke out on the streets of Beirut Lebanon Thursday as pro-government university students clashed with Hezbollah supporters. There were cars set on fire and fights using homemade clubs and stones. The military was called in to quell the violence.

There were at least three killed and dozens wounded according to a report from the Associated Press (Reuters is reporting that there were four students killed). But the fallout reaches far beyond the casualty count. The clashes, sparked by a cafeteria scuffle between pro-government Sunni Muslims and pro-Hezbollah Shiites, has cast doubt on the government’s ability to keep order.

The Bush Administration has pleaded for calm in Lebanon, as forces work to topple the embattled Prime Minister Fouad Siniora government. Sean McCormack, State Department spokesman, told reporters that “There are certain irresponsible parties in Lebanon who have been provoking an atmosphere of confrontation and antagonism within the political system."

The Administration may be set to blame Syria and Iran for the problems in Lebanon. "The links between those individuals and groups and outside entities are well known,” McCormack said. “And they have been engaged in a cynical manipulation of public perceptions in the political process."

Without mentioning Israel or Syria by name, McCormack went on to say "Certainly there are forces that want to stop progress toward a free, democratic, prosperous Lebanon. We've seen that. We've seen them assassinate and attempt to kill numerous individuals."

Lebanon has long been the target of Syrian influence. Lebanon has received more than $7.6 billion in grants and $770 million in soft loans from the United States, as well as $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia, at a donors conference in Paris on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Back in July two Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah after they crossed the Lebanese border. Other soldiers were killed according to a report from AP. This sparked a massive bombardment of Lebanon by Israel to retrieve the captured soldiers. The destruction of bridges, roads and homes in southern Lebanon has strengthened support for Hezbollah and set the Siniora government on the verge of collapse.

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By Tom Madison
Best Syndication Writer

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