To disarm gunmen and restore order accross the country, the Lebanese army has said it is prepared to use force.
This declaration follows a week of clashes, between supporters of the Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition (photo, from Boston.com).
More than 60 people have been left dead after the latest violence.
Now there is a strong presence from the Lebanese army, in Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and in the Chouf mountains, south-east of the capital.
But much of Beirut remains paralysed by street barricades, and the international airport is still closed, say BBC correspondents.
As it is the worst since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, the recent sectarian violence has brought fears of another all-out conflict.
” Army units will prevent any violations, whether by individuals or groups, in accordance with the law even if this is going to lead to the use of force”, said a military statement.
The recent unrest started when the government move to shutdown Hezbollah’s telecoms network and remove the chief of security at Beirut’s airport for allegedly sympathising with Hezbollah.
The army, which stayed neutral in the conflict, emerged as the only factor that would prevent a complete collapse in Lebanon.
It is largely agreed, that army’s commander, General Michel Suleiman (photo, from Reuters), should be the next president.
For the past 16 months, Lebanon has been locked in political stalemate between the ruling coalition and Hezbollah-led opposition over the make-up of the government.
And since November, Lebanon hasn’t had a president, when Emile Lahoud stepped down despite parliament failing to agree on his successor.
A coup by Hezbollah
On Wednesday, an Arab League delegation is expected to arrive in Lebanon, in order to try to mediate an end to the fighting.
Iran has been criticised by Saudi Arabia, a strong supporter of the Lebanese government. The country said it’s supporting what it called a coup by Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia said it would affect its relations with Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia has called for all Middle eastern states to respect the independence of Lebanon.
“For Iran to back the coup that happened in Lebanon will have an impact on its relations with all Arab countries” warned Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, on Tuesday.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied his country was meddling in Lebanon. During a news conference he said that ” Iran is the only country not interfering”.
George W Bush, the US president, also said he will discuss developments this week, when visiting saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In a BBC interview he said he had offered to help strengthen Lebanon’s army so it can disarm Hezbollah.
The US is also sending its guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, back into the Eastern Mediterranean, which action has angered Lebanon’s Hezbollah-led opposition.
Any hint of American intervention would lead it to abandon the few red lines it has observed in its campaign to undermine the government, warned sources.