Posted by Joshua on Friday, November 2nd, 2007
SHANNON (AFP)–U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday warned against diplomatic moves to solve Lebanon's serious political crisis by compromising with the country's pro-Syrian opposition.
"I think there is a lot of talk right now about compromise," she told journalists on a plane taking her to Ankara for talks with Turkish leaders on Kurdish rebels.
"There are a lot of discussions going on. That is fine," she added before a stopover in Ireland.
"But any candidate for president or any president needs to be committed to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence, needs to be committed to resolutions that Lebanon has signed on to … and needs to be committed to carrying on the tribunal."
Rice was referring to the international UN-backed tribunal that was set up to prosecute those behind the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a five-time prime minister who was killed along with 22 others in a massive Beirut explosion in February 2005.
She did not name names, but her statement appeared to be a veiled reference to a meeting between Michel Aoun, a pro-Syrian former president who is the opposition standard-bearer in November 12 presidential elections, and Hariri's son Saad.
Aoun met Wednesday and Thursday in Paris with Lebanese parliament leader Hariri, the leader of the pro-government bloc, for their first talks since Lebanon's political crisis erupted in November last year.
The French foreign ministry said it was not involved in the talks but stressed that France "supports all efforts aimed at encouraging dialogue between the different parties in Lebanon."
Shadow of the gun looms over Lebanon crisis
By Tom Perry
Nov 2, 2007
BEIRUT (Reuters) – For arms dealer Abu Walid, political crisis in Lebanon means profit. He says he can't keep up with customer demand.
"The market is very prosperous. If there were weapons factories in Lebanon today, they would not be able to meet the demand," he said, adding that the price of a good Kalashnikov — his best selling gun — had trebled to more than $1,000.
Weapons buying by rival political factions is ringing alarm bells for Lebanese who fear a bitter power struggle in their country will turn violent unless it is settled soon.
Demand had been "unusually strong" over the last five months, said Abu Walid, declining to give his full name. "I don't care who's buying. What is important is who pays more."
He said he buys his supplies from Palestinian factions while others smuggle weapons into the country.
In a country already awash with guns, the distribution of more weapons has raised the stakes in efforts to resolve the standoff between the governing coalition backed by the United States and its opponents, who are supported by Syria and Iran.
The rival parties are now trying to agree on a president to replace Emile Lahoud, whose term expires on November 23. But they have yet to make progress towards a deal seen as vital to defusing Lebanon's worst internal crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week expressed concern that militias were arming to prepare for a "constitutional void" if there was no agreement.
60 Minutes has identified the man whose fabricated story of Iraqi biological weapons drove the U.S. argument for invading Iraq. It has also obtained video of "Curve Ball," as he was known in intelligence circles, and discovered he was not only a liar, but also a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be.
The Syria Forum, Created by Camille-Alexandre Otrakji has posted articles addressing the latest topi on Syria's foreign policy:
Which international and regional powers (Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Untied States, Russia, France) should Syria try to have good relations with. Should Syria be more involved or more hands off in its surrounding region's many conflicts.