Borgerkrigen rykker nærmere i Libanon, og denne gang ikke mellom shiaer og falangister, men mellom sunnier og shiaer. Det er det skumle. En religiøs-sekterisk åpen konflikt i Libanon kan antenne vold mellom shiaer og sunnier i andre deler av Midtøsten. Iran ser på seg selv som beskytter av shiaene, og Saudi-Arabia ser på seg selv som beskytter av sunniene. De står på hver sin side i Libanon og en krig her kan bli stygg, på en annen måte.

Sheikh Nasrallah sa det var en krigserklæring at regjeringen ville stenge Hizbollahs alternative telefonnett.

On Tuesday, the government said that it would send troops to shut down a telephone network operated by Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

«This decision was a declaration of war and the start of war on the resistance and its weapons,» Mr. Nasrallah said, speaking via satellite at a news conference convened by Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

«Our response to this decision is that whoever declares or starts a war, be it a brother or a father, then it is our right to defend ourselves and our existence,» he said.

However, Mr. Nasrallah left open the door for some negotiations by saying that it would stop the strike if the government’s forces left the streets of Beirut and the government reversed its decision on the telephone network.
Many of the clashes in recent days have been in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Armed civilians were visible on some streets.

«God is with the Sunnis,» shouted government supporters. «The Shiite blood is boiling,» responded Hezbollah followers from across the street. Lebanese army troops in riot gear stood between them.

In other parts of the city, Lebanese troops in armored personnel carriers raced among neighborhoods trying to contain the fighting and shooting in the air to disperse crowds.

«This is the first day of the civil war,» said a government supporter who gave his name as Omar, in a Sunni neighborhood. «They are the aggressors, and they will be buried here.»

A few miles away, supporters of Hezbollah vowed to continue the protest until Mr. Siniora’s government fell.

«We are staying here,» said a protester who gave his name as Abu Rish. «We have money and support from Iran and Syria and we can go on like this for another 50 years.»

Confrontation in Lebanon Appears to Escalate