Lebanese Minister recommends crackdown on Tripoli
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Wednesday security forces should strike gunmen with an “iron fist” in the northern city of Tripoli, which he described as having an “uncomfortable” security situation and “bad” economic conditions.
“Tripoli residents are fearing an upcoming turmoil … but the army and security forces are coordinating to prevent security incidents,” Charbel said ahead of a meeting of the Central Security Council aimed at implementing a strategy to impose order in the city.
“The security situation there is stable but not comforting for many reasons,” he said without giving more details.
During Ramadan there was “relative calm” in the northern city, he told reporters.
But he described the economic situation as “bad.” The city “looks like an abandoned village after 4:00 pm as a result of the presence of armed men,” Charbel said.
“We will try as much as possible to limit the activity of those tampering with security” in Tripoli, he added though he appealed for assistance from Lebanese politicians.
He hoped for a “successful and continuous” support by the politicians to the army and security forces in restoring order in Tripoli.
The problems in the past were limited to the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, he said. But the crisis worsened after the residents began using arms for useless reasons.
The two neighborhoods have witnessed several rounds of deadly fighting – a direct spillover of the Syrian war.
Charbel denied that the city's armed men were receiving financial support from the security forces.
“They know very well their financiers, who are not the security forces,” he said in response to a question. He challenged them by saying “Let them give names.”
Charbel hailed the role played by police and the army in containing Tuesday's incidents in the northern city.
“The Judicial Council studied the rulings well before issuing them” in al-Tal and Bahsas bombings case in 2008, he said.
The Judicial Council sentenced on Tuesday the Imam of the Amira mosque Sheikh Tarek Merhi to 15 years in jail without the possibility to appeal the ruling. Five others were sentenced to death and seven others to 10 years of hard labor.
Soon after the court verdict, demonstrations broke out in Tripoli and protesters scuffled with the army.