-Vi respekterer ikke lenger noen røde linjer, sa sheik Nasrallah torsdag. Umiddelbart viste militsen hans hva det betød: de gikk til angrep. Kommentatorer tror det kommer flere slike sjokk fremover.

«We no longer have red lines,» Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday, calling the government decisions a declaration of war in a speech that appeared to give the green light for his fighters to move into the streets.

Hezbollah would use its weapons against anyone who tried to disarm it, said Nasrallah, who had previously always maintained that the arsenal was only for use against Israel.

The statement rewrote the rules in the power struggle between the Hezbollah-led opposition and the governing coalition.

«I think Hezbollah will undertake another campaign in other areas … if the political demands are not met,» said Suleiman Taqieddin, a commentator in the as-Safir newspaper who is familiar with the opposition’s thinking.

Hezbollah’s move stripped the government of control of the capital, including the airport which has been closed by opposition barricades. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has not left his headquarters at the Serail palace since last week.

«The government is in the Serail, claiming that it rules and is legitimate, while Hezbollah is on the ground deepening its authority,» Taqieddin said. A resolute Hezbollah may try to force it to yield through «another shock», he said.

Hizbollahs fremstøt ga gjenlyd over hele regionen. For første gang har Iran gjort et fremstøt for å overta makten i et annet land. De er allerede på god vei i Irak. Saudi-Arabia, Jordan og Egypt kan ikke sitte rolig å se på at Irans makt strekker seg til Middelhavet.

«They have won. Iran has taken over a Mediterranean state,» says a senior Future Movement official who requested anonymity. The source conceded that the government’s decisions had probably been a «miscalculation,» but Lebanon’s future depended heavily on the response of the international community.

«If there is no reaction from the international community to restore the balance and show the world that Iran cannot do as it pleases and have a democracy raped and an Arab capital invaded then sooner or later we will have to capitulate to [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah,» says the Future Movement official.

Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo Sunday to discuss the crisis, but there has been little reaction from the international community other than condemnations of the violence.

«The US and the Saudis [backers of the Lebanese government] are the big losers in all this,» says Mr. Khouri of the Issam Fares Institute. «This is one more example in the Middle East of their boys losing.»

Det kan se ut som om Nasrallah har spesielt lite til overs for druser-lederen Walid Jumblatt. Ifølge disse spekulasjonene ønsker Nasrallah å fjerne Jumblatt fra de med innflytelse.

Unshaven and looking tired, Mr. Jumblatt sat in the courtyard of his residence in the Clemenceau district of west Beirut. With him were two of his closest allies, Marwan Hamade, the minister of telecommunications, and Ghazi Aridi, the minister of information, all three of them busy fielding endless phone calls.

Only hours earlier, the Druze leader’s home had been surrounded by militants from Hezbollah, Amal, and the secular Syrian Social Nationalist Party. «We wanted the army to provide security for us, but what can the army do when this militia, called Hezbollah, is stronger than the Army?» Jumblatt asks.
Sheikh Nasrallah singled him out last week, describing the Druze leader as the true head of the government, not Mr. Siniora. On Saturday, Hezbollah held Jumblatt «personally responsible» for the abduction and killing of two of the party’s militants and the disappearance of a third in the Druze town of Aley, which appeared to have triggered the latest round of fighting Sunday afternoon.

«This whole thing is about scaling down Walid Jumblatt,» says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a political analyst who is close to Hezbollah. «They [Hezbollah] have called him a traitor. Hezbollah can coexist with Saad Hariri, as they recognize that he is a the leader of the Sunnis, but there is no room for Jumblatt in all this.»

Druserne er også delt i to, og søndag kom Hizbollah sammen med rivaliserende druser-kjempere for å ta hevn for en kidnapping som endte med to døde Hizbollah-kjempere.

Hvor overkjørt Jumblatt er, viser hans appell til rivalen om å mekle frem en våpenhvile. Man kan lure på hvor lenge Jumblatt lever, hvis han ikke gjør knefall.

Hezbollah and allied Druze fighters took control of several villages in the Aley area on Sunday, security sources said. Explosions and gunfire echoed across the pine-covered hills.

The clashes brought the death toll in five days of fighting across Lebanon to 53. At least 150 have been wounded.

Fighting eased and the army began to deploy after Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose supporters were fighting Hezbollah, asked a rival Druze leader allied to the Shi’ite group to mediate an end to the fighting.

«I tell my supporters that civil peace, coexistence and stopping war and destruction are more important than any other consideration,» Jumblatt, a pillar of the U.S.-backed governing coalition, said in an appeal on LBC television.

Jumblatt’s call for his Druze rival Talal Arsalan to mediate was a sign of how big a blow the coalition has been dealt by Hezbollah, a political group with a powerful guerrilla army.

Lebanese Army steps into Beirut fray

ANALYSIS-Hezbollah force corners U.S. allies in Lebanon