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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Hezbollah phone network spat sparks Beirut street war

    [...]

    The showdown was triggered by a dispute over Hezbollah's private telephone network, with the government declaring the network illegal earlier this week.

    "The decision is tantamount to a declaration of war ... on the resistance and its weapons in the interest of America and Israel," said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a news conference aired live on television Thursday. "Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them. Those who shoot at us, we will shoot at them. The hand raised against us, we will cut it off."

    [...]

    t has been known for some time that Hezbollah has installed a private non-commercial fiber-optic land-line telephone network to provide secure communications between its leaders and the cadres. The network is extensive, stretching from Hezbollah's headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut to south Lebanon. Since the summer 2006 war with Israel, the system has spread further into the Bekaa Valley in the east and even into mainly Christian and Druze areas of the Mount Lebanon district, according to Marwan Hamade, the minister of telecommunications and a close ally of Mr. Jumblatt.

    "It has been installed with the support of the Iranians," he says. "It is Iran telecom, a totally parallel network to the state network."

    On Tuesday, after a marathon cabinet session, the government announced that Hezbollah's private network was "illegal and unconstitutional" and referred the file to the judiciary and the United Nations. The UN Security Cabinet is scheduled to discuss Thursday the latest report on the implementation of Resolution 1559, which includes a clause calling for the dismantling of "all Lebanese and non-Lebanese armed groups," a reference to Hezbollah and militant Palestinian factions.

    But Mr. Nasrallah insisted that the network "is a regular telephone network" that allows the party's leadership to remain in touch without being monitored by Israelis. He denied accusations that the system had spread into Mount Lebanon.

    [...]

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