Posted by Joshua on Monday, December 31st, 2007
France is boycotting Syria until Syria pressures its Lebanese allies to accept the agreed upon candidate for President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman. Syria and Lebanese opposition forces demand a greater share of the cabinet the new president would construct. Some are talking about renegotiating Taif, the constitutional arrangement that is seen by many of the opposition to be unfair.
Syria has a community of interest with Hizbullah and Aoun to demand a greater share in the cabinet – a blocking third. Syria cannot order Hizbullah to give up its gains or to leave itself vulnerable in a new government. Hizbullah claims that it helped 11 parliament members of the Hariri bloc to gain their seats in 2005 elections in a deal with Jumblat and Hariri that the two later went back on.
Both Hizbullah and Aoun believe they are the winners of recent wrangling within Lebanese politics and want those winnings reflected in a new government. (I am off to NYC for New Years. Will write more about this on my return.)
Syria unwilling to pressure Lebanon allies: minister
Syria is unwilling to put pressure on its Lebanon allies in the crisis that has left it without a president for over a month, Information Minister Mohsen ..
Arslan attributes impasse to problems with Taif
Monday, December 31, 2007
BEIRUT: Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan said the crisis around the presidential election was directly tied to Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War. "Day after day, it is becoming clear to everybody that the presidential election crisis is certainly a by-product of the wrong implementation of the Taif Accord," he said at a news conference in his residence in Khaldeh on Saturday. Negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia, the pact was signed on October 22, 1989. Arslan stressed, however, that the opposition did not have plans to annul the deal. "We want to revisit the accord to achieve to major goals: putting an end to the fooling around with the Constitution and outlining the authorities of the executive power," he said. Arslan said that there were a number of problematic issues, which widened the gap between the opposition and the governing March 14 Forces. "The share of the opposition in the next government in addition to the fate and role of the resistance are crucial questions to be discussed even if they might cause a split among the Lebanese," he added.
France ends contact with Syria over Lebanese presidential election
The Associated Press
Monday, December 31, 2007
AIRO, Egypt: France is cutting off talks with Syria until Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.
Lebanon’s Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to break a deadlock over filling the presidential post, empty for a month, and many Western countries have accused Damascus of interfering in the process — a claim Syria denies.
“I will not have any more contact with the Syrians until … we have received proof of Syria’s intention to let Lebanon designate a president of consensus,” said Sarkozy at a press conference Sunday in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal called Sarkozy’s comments “surprising,” telling Syrian state television that Damascus was “working with France to reach an agreement on a president who represents all Lebanese.”
The French president spoke with Syrian President Bashar Assad as recently as the beginning of December to urge him to “facilitate” the election in Lebanon.
Sarkozy sent his chief of staff, Claude Gueant, to Damascus in early November, and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem earlier that month on the sidelines of an Iraq conference in Turkey.
“France has taken the responsibility of talking with Syria,” said Sarkozy. “One must recognize today that we cannot wait any longer, Syria must stop talking and now must act.”…
That process has been complicated by the opposition’s demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions….
Israeli goal for 2008 – to isolate Syria from radical axis: Jerusalem Post, Israel – Dec 29, 2007 By HERB KEINON
Formulating a strategy for separating Syria from the "radical axis" is one of the Foreign Ministry's highest priorities for 2008, …