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Amid Lebanon’s ongoing protests, army finds itself caught in the middle

The Lebanese Armed Forces have clashed in several areas in Lebanon with protesters who have been blocking roads and highways.
A demonstrator holds a Lebanese flag during an anti-government protest in the southern city of Nabatyeh, Lebanon October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Aziz Taher - RC1B83B80160

Over the course of the weeklong demonstrations in Lebanon that started on Oct. 17, demonstrators have spurred the Cabinet to pass critical reforms, and are continuing to demand the total resignation of all politicians in the Lebanese government, chanting, “All means all.” Some more concrete requests have been voiced, including anti-corruption laws and lifting the secrecy of bank accounts.

Throughout these protests, the role of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has been a multi-faceted one. Although Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called on the army’s leadership to protect demonstrators’ right to protest, he and other leaders including President Michel Aoun on Oct. 24 and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Oct. 25 have stressed the need to open roads that continued to be blocked by protesters on Oct. 26. Efforts to open roads by the army have been marred by reported violence in several areas in Lebanon throughout the week, and on Oct. 26, shots were fired into the air by the Lebanese army as it tried to open the road to traffic in Beddawi near the northern city of Tripoli.

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