“Will There be a Last Minute Compromise in Lebanon?” by Firas Maksad

Firas Maksad, Middle East analyst, for the Eurasia Group still believes there is room for a last minute compromise in Lebanon: He writes:

Firas Maksad
29 November 2006

Lebanon's pro-Syrian forces are gearing up to ramp up pressure on the government after an 11th hour initiative failed to break the deadlock.

Despite the negative headlines and the possibility of limited violence, however, the government's collapse remains unlikely, and a cash injection to shore up Prime Minister Foad Seniora is expected in the first quarter of 2007.

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Hizbullah has effectively dismissed a last-minute proposition by former President Amin Gemayel that would give pro-Syrian forces one cabinet seat short of veto power and anti-Syrian forces one seat short of a two-thirds majority. With that move, the group has made clear that its chief aim is to secure its ability to cripple the Seniora government and impede the Hariri tribunal.

The governing anti-Syrian coalition has unequivocally refused to entertain this proposition, so a solution now depends on favorable regional dynamics that could facilitate an understanding between the patrons of both camps. The Saudi and Iranian ambassadors to Lebanon are still very active on that front and a decision by the international community to engage Iran or Syria would also contribute to defusing

tensions.

Taking to the streets is a risky option for Hizbullah. Accordingly, before moving on to mass protests, the group may announce several measures such as limited demonstrations on the outskirts of Beirut, a boycott of parliamentary committees by opposition MPs, and instigating labor associations to protest. Such a strategy would allow them to gradually turn up the heat without risking violence and completely shutting the door to compromise. A massive anti-government rally in Beirut could then be announced if a week-long pressure campaign does not bring about any compromise.

Yet even if street protests do commence, the collapse of the current government will remain unlikely. The government is weakened by the assassination of Pierre Gemayel and the resignation of Shia ministers, but it still retains the support of a solid parliamentary majority as well as the Sunni, Christian, and Druze communities. Furthermore, Hizbullah understands that it cannot form a new government if it forces the current cabinet's collapse–and that it would eventually have to return to negotiations. In this latter scenario, the current cabinet would remain as a caretaker government, leaving Hizbullah and the opposition right where they started.

Finally, a cash injection designed to prop up the Seniora government remains very likely in first quarter 2007. This is especially critical, given that a continuation of the current crisis may make it uncertain whether the 25-26 January Paris III donor conference convenes as planned. Financial support for Seniora is a strategic imperative, and Presidents George Bush and Jacque Chirac have both affirmed their commitment to prepare for the donor conference and to provide financial support to Seniora. The Saudis are of the same mindset and will be ready to provide around $2bn in aid, just as they did during this summer's war, to assure Lebanon's financial stability.

The next 48 hours will be critical and I am always glad to discuss further.

Regards, Firas

Comments (32)


1. majedkhaldoun said:

the Lebanese are divided 50-50, thus Seniora goverment will not colapse,however foreign intervention will define the future course.
arrogance is stupid and self defeating.

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November 29th, 2006, 11:58 pm

 
 

3. norman said:

I think that after the recent war in Lebanon it was clear to Hizballa that the Lebanese gov does not support them and that it stood by Israel , I think they will not axcept anything short of total collaps of the Saniora goverment. there is no place for half solution and the time for the Sheaa to stay doremats for the rest of the Lebanes is gone ,It is time for one man one vote Lebanon.if that is done peacfully then Lebanon will avoid a civel war.

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November 30th, 2006, 3:26 am

 

4. youngsyria said:

Saudi media campaign against Syria is very active right now, check out http://www.alarabiya.net , two negative articles about Syria at least.
Now there is Syrian al-qaeda ready to kill 36 Lebanese politicians ….bla bla bla

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November 30th, 2006, 3:33 am

 

5. majedkhaldoun said:

the message is clear,King Abdullah of Jordan is given more authority by president Bush.AlMaliki may have to report to the king,or may be Maliki is on his way out.

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November 30th, 2006, 5:17 am

 

6. Ilyas said:

What we need, quite simply, are new elections. The leadership of the country has poisoned the political debate to the point where only proper elections with a new electoral law will work.

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November 30th, 2006, 8:34 am

 

7. Antoun said:

“The government is weakened by the assassination of Pierre Gemayel and the resignation of Shia ministers, but it still retains the support of a solid parliamentary majority as well as the Sunni, Christian, and Druze communities.”

Christian community?

Last I checked, the majority of Christians were in support of the FPM (Aoun) and thus with Hizballah.

If anything, it’s a Sunni-Druze alliance with support from the traditionalist Maronite-right (which is a minority in their camp nowadays) versus a Shia-Christian (popular Christian) alliance.

All over the Christian regions of Lebanon you will find support for the Orange movement. Only in limited, traditional sections will you find support for the right-wing Christian forces who are a member of the March 14 movement.

No, the government does not have the support of the Christian community. Firas has made an obvious error with such a remark and fallen victim to the illusionist commentary of the Western media.

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November 30th, 2006, 12:32 pm

 

8. t_desco said:

“Accordingly, before moving on to mass protests, the group may announce several measures such as limited demonstrations on the outskirts of Beirut…”

With hindsight, we are now able to say that this prediction wasn’t correct. And I also disagree with the following:

“The government is weakened by the assassination of Pierre Gemayel…”

It seems that, in a paradoxical way, the government is in a stronger position now than it was before the assassination which has undoubtedly heightened sectarian tensions.

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November 30th, 2006, 12:53 pm

 
 

10. idaf said:

I agree completely with Antoun.

The author’s analysis is flawed as it is based on inaccurate data. The Siniora government has been extended a 10 days life-line with the assassination of Gemayel. If you think realistically about it, Pierre Gemayel’s blood has been the cheapest among the other assassinated politicians. His killing was a desperate attempt to save the government by someone (All players on the Lebanese scene but Syria and the opposition have benefited from the assassination; including Israel, US, “moderate” Arabs, different Feb 14 groups.. etc.). The other killings had a lot more damaging effect on Syria.

I also agree with Antoun that the media (and Firas) are deliberately focusing on Hizballa as the opposition. The public should not be allowed to hear that the majority of the Lebanese Christians are against the pro-US government! This is a fact as around 70% of Chrisitians in Lebanon have voted for Aoun. I would argue that he is even more popular now, as he is now seen as Lebanese national leader by Christians and Muslims alike in Lebanon (not merely viewed as a sectarian Zaiim such as the rest of the 14 Feb group).

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November 30th, 2006, 3:44 pm

 

11. Ghassan said:

Aoun is losing not gaining popularity! Look at all of the universities elections and professional organizations elections!

Also Aoun is losing his Tayyar leaders. How many have left him already?

Even part of his Parliamant block, several MP voiced opinions different than his.

I don’t blame them! I watched his press conference yestersday and he looks awfull, disoriented, unfocused and very subjective (uses I a lot!)

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November 30th, 2006, 3:56 pm

 

12. t_desco said:

For the record:

Fatah al-Islam Announces their Split from Fatah at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp in Northern Lebanon

A message was posted to a password-protected jihadist forum today, Wednesday, November 29, 2006, containing an announcement by the Fatah al-Islam Movement, in which the group announces that it has split from the “apostate seculars” of Fatah.
SITE Institute

Background by Al-Akhbar and As-Safir.

The Daily Star had reported yesterday that two men were arrested following ““a recent incident” at the Nahr al-Bared camp”. The Al-Akhbar article now seems to suggest that the incident took place in the Beddawi camp instead. Could it be that it was this incident, also reported
here by Al-Akhbar?

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November 30th, 2006, 4:02 pm

 

13. dan said:

It is anyone’s guess on what the Syrian moukhabarat are scheming. Hizballah will refuse to surrender the state within the state that it has. This is an attempt to take over all of Lebanon. The Napoleon only wants the presidency!! Sometimes I wonder how people can tell that Christians are with FPM. The next few days will be indicative of the “immense” poular support the HIZB has within the Syrian workers and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. As usual we’ll have the syrian workers demonstrating against the Lebanese government!!

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November 30th, 2006, 5:49 pm

 

14. Ehsani2 said:

y Robin Stringer and Sara Walker
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Syria’s ambassador to the U.K., Sami
Khiyami talks about Lebanon, Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and relations with the U.S. and U.K.
Khiyami spoke in a Bloomberg TV interview today in London.

On what Syria can do to help stabilize Iraq:

“Syria can do nothing if there’s no plan of evacuation” of
U.S.-led forces from Iraq.
“It’s time for the U.S. to specify a precise plan of
evacuation. This is when Syria can do something to help Iraqi
forces to come together and reach an agreement on what kind of
Iraq they want in the future.
“We need dialogue with the Iraqi government once the
Americans are out.
“As long as the Americans are here the Iraqis will be
divided into sectarian forces and Syria as a secular country
cannot address the Iraqi forces in their sectarian form.
“Syria will always be for a stable and united Iraq. It is
one of our national priorities.”

On the visit of U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s envoy to
Damascus in October:

“It is a good start for more productive dialogue between Britain
and Syria.”

On whether a victory by the Democrats in the next U.S.
presidential election is something Syria hopes for:

“To us there will be no great change to attitude in the
region.
“We want the best relations with the U.S. We acknowledge
that they are running the world’s economy and the world’s
politics, but we can’t accept that they destroy our nations.
“We don’t need real dialogue with the U.S. if they decide
to leave the region and let it live in peace.”

On Syria’s relationship with Iran:

“There are two movements in the Middle East. A national
movement, which is lead by Syria, and an Islamist movement, which
is lead by Iran.
“As long as these two movements express the same wishes,
that we defend the rights of Palestinian people to have their
homeland and for the Arabs to get back their occupied
territories, then there will always be marriage between these two
political forces.

On negotiations over the Golan Heights:

“Our president said very clearly that it was high time for
negotiations on the Golan Heights, otherwise all the societies in
the Middle East will turn into resistance societies.
“Having seen what Hezbollah was able to do to in Lebanon in
the last war, the kind of chaos that will happen will be an
endless war that will not be in the interest of the Arabs and
certainly not Israel.
“The Golan Heights is the No. 1 priority of Syrian foreign
policy.”

On accusations by some Lebanese politicians that Syria was behind
the assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel:

“It was so obvious that the late Mr. Gemayel was killed in
his own neighborhood by professional gunmen who were working and
operating quite at ease and not afraid at all by a security force
patrol.
“It could be someone from one of the majority forces ruling
Lebanon today.
“Our priority is that Lebanon stays a secure country. Any
civil unrest in Lebanon will cause immediate unrest in Syria.
“We do not interfere at all, we just let them decide what
kind of Lebanon they want.”

On the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon:

“We have nothing against the UN force provided they do not
change their mandate and start taking sides.”

On whether the European Union may be more suitable to drive the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process than the U.S.:

“It has to be the EU because the U.S. has shown that it is
a biased administration towards conflict in the region and
therefore it cannot operate as a broker any more. It can support
the efforts of the EU and the EU can do the job.”

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November 30th, 2006, 6:42 pm

 

15. why-discuss said:

I agree with Antoun. Despite the roars of Jumblatt and Hamade and the visit to Cheney and Rumsfelf by waleed bey, trying to secure some kind of power, the druze are only 10% of the population and divided. It is finally a game between the sunnis lead by Hariri with the support of Saudi arabia, the US and its allies versus the Shias suppported by Iran and its allies. The christians had lost all their power during the Syrian occupation and the biased election laws. Aoun represents the only chance of them to regain it. This is why,despite the repulsion may christians have toward the Hezbollah perceived as too religious, its victory against Israel has moved many hesitant christians toward Aoun.. they are the ones that would be a difference in the Sunni-Shia confrontation that is now inevitable. We will see who comes out as a winner and the new vendettas that will result of that.

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November 30th, 2006, 7:02 pm

 

16. Alex said:

What we are seeing is also the process of re-arranging the leadership of the Arab world.

Traditionally it was Egypt then Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia who split the roles or regional powers.

Now with Iraq out, we have Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran moving to fill the void. Saudi Arabia made a move on Syria (mostly benefiting from Hariri’s murder) in Lebanon. Iran and Syria hit back in Iraq, and now Syria is counter attacking to regain Lebanon.

How far will Saudi Arabia and the US go to fight back?

A Saudi official yesterday said that he does not mind if it gets to regional wars, but Saudi Arabia is going to do something.

أعلن المستشار الأمني للحكومة السعودية نواف عبيد، أمس، أن الرياض ستتدخل في العراق، باستخدام الأموال أو الأسلحة أو قوتها النفطية، للحيلولة دون قيام الميليشيات الشيعية، المدعومة من إيران، بقتل السنة، في حالة بدء انسحاب القوات الاميركية.
وكتب عبيد، في مقال في صحيفة < واشنطن بوست> الاميركية، إن القيادة السعودية تستعد لمراجعة سياستها بشأن العراق للتعامل مع تداعيات انسحاب اميركي محتمل.
وأوضح عبيد، في المقال الذي أشارت الصحيفة إلى أن الآراء التي وردت فيه تعبر عن رأي عبيد وليس الحكومة السعودية، < يحمل التدخل السعودي في العراق مخاطر كبيرة، حيث يمكنه إثارة حرب إقليمية. وليكن الأمر كذلك... فعواقب عدم التدخل أسوأ بكثير>. واعتبر < أن غض الطرف عن قتل السنة العراقيين سيكون نبذا للمبادئ التي قامت عليها المملكة، وسيقوض مصداقية السعودية في العالم السني، وسيكون تسليما بأعمال إيران العسكرية في المنطقة>.
وأشار عبيد إلى أن زيارة نائب الرئيس الاميركي ديك تشيني، الذي التقى الملك السعودي عبد الله السبت الماضي، < تبرز تميز وضع السعودية في المنطقة، وأهميتها بالنسبة للاستراتيجية الاميركية في العراق>.
وتابع عبيد انه إذا بدأت الولايات المتحدة في الانسحاب من العراق < فإن أحدى أولى النتائج سيكون التدخل السعودي الضخم، لمنع الميليشيات الشيعية، التي تدعمها إيران، من ذبح العراقيين السنة>. وحدد عبيد ثلاثة خيارات تأخذها الحكومة السعودية في الاعتبار، وهي <تزويد زعماء المسلحين السنة بأنواع المساعدة (التي يتلقاها الشيعة) وتتضمن التمويل والأسلحة، وتشكيل كتائب سنية جديدة لقتال الميليشيا المدعومة من إيران، أو ربما يقرر الملك السعودي تضييق الخناق على التمويل الإيراني من خلال سياسات نفطية. فإذا ما عززت السعودية إنتاجها وخفضت الأسعار إلى النصف سيكون تأثير ذلك كارثيا بالنسبة لإيران، وستكون النتيجة الحد من قدرة طهران على مواصلة ضخ مئات الملايين كل عام للمسلحين الشيعة في العراق، وفي أي مكان آخر

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November 30th, 2006, 7:46 pm

 

17. t_desco said:

Kudos to Michael Slackman for acknowledging the role of Gen. Aoun in the protests (in contrast to so many other reports):

“He will now be aided by his ally, General Michel Aoun, who is considered the most popular Christian political leader in the country.”
IHT

The following is probably OT (sorry), yet there are certain similarities… to the situation in Lebanon:

Chavez: Murder Plot Against Foe Foiled

Venezuelan authorities have foiled a plot for a sniper attack on the opposition’s leading presidential candidate ahead of this Sunday’s election, President Hugo Chavez said Thursday.

Chavez said a group of “fascist” radicals had been plotting to use a rifle with a telescopic sight to shoot at Manuel Rosales during a speech in order to blame it on Chavez’s government in an attempt to derail the vote.
AP/CBS

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November 30th, 2006, 10:07 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

Iran + Syria + Hezbollah = many dead Lebanese

Jordan + Saudi Arabia + other moderate Arabs = 1 chance for a peaceful Lebanon, coexistence and baklava.

Will it be Door #1 or Door #2? Jihadism or Freedom?

If and when the terror continues, GWB, Bolton and France need to extert maximum pressure.

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November 30th, 2006, 10:32 pm

 

19. Atassi said:

Arabs may one day miss George W. Bush
Michael Rubin
1 December 2006
Daily Star
English
(c) 2006 THE DAILY STAR, BEIRUT, LEBANON.

Beirut — The Middle East cheered the Republican defeat in the recent American congressional elections. The official Syrian daily Al-Baath labeled the elections a “painful blow,” while the Saudi daily Al-Watan called for a “wise” policy from Washington “to bridge the gulf in confidence between the United States and the regional peoples and governments.” The Iranian press gloated, while the Turkish Islamist daily Yeni Aafak argued that the election rebuke was “punishment for Bush’s neocon policies.” Such reactions do not surprise. President George W. Bush’s policies have not been easy for many in the Middle East to digest.

Different segments of Arab societies dislike Bush for different reasons. Many Arabs outside government believe Bush tilts too much toward Israel. Lebanese cite with particular disdain Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s characterization of this summer’s violence as “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Others see the US veto last November 11 of a United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Israel for its military operations in the Gaza Strip as abdication of Washington’s role as an honest broker. They accept Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour’s characterization of the veto as evidence that Washington backs Israel as it “commits crimes and acts of outright aggression with impunity.”

That US policy tilts toward Israel has nothing to do with Bush or any single party. While Arab commentators may find comfort in blaming a Jewish lobby, the real reason is more straightforward. To Americans, Israel is a democracy and, for decades, has been a consistent ally. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, administrations favored Arab states for the practical reason that Arabs outnumbered Israelis and had oil; it was in US interests to seek partnership in the Arab world. Hence, Washington sided with Cairo against Tel Aviv in the 1956 Suez crisis, handing Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser his greatest victory. But while Arab states attacked the US, Israel stood by it. Any comparison of UN votes – especially on issues having nothing to do with the Middle East – underscores this pattern.

Bush is not anti-Arab, though. He went farther than any predecessor to support Palestinian statehood when, on June 24, 2002, he declared: “It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation … My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security.” Certain Palestinian groups, often with foreign support, squandered their opportunity by re-embracing violence. Bush’s belief in liberty extended beyond the Palestinians, though. While his father’s advisers sacrificed Lebanese freedom for the stability of the Syrian military presence until 2005, Bush sought actual Lebanese independence.

Autocrats across the region distrust Bush for entirely different reasons. To leaders in Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Riyadh, the Palestinian cause is little more than a useful rhetorical tool to distract their own citizens from failures closer to home. These leaders do not blame Bush for his policies toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather dislike him for his rhetoric of democratization and reform.

The US occupation of Iraq may not be popular anywhere in the Arab world, but scenes of Iraqis celebrating Saddam Hussein’s downfall infused Arab regimes with particular unease. Many Arab leaders surround themselves with sycophants. Delegates at Egypt’s National Democratic Party conference in September, for example, repeatedly interrupted President Hosni Mubarak’s speech to inform him of their admiration for him and the love of ordinary Egyptians. But, outside the posh convention center, ordinary Egyptians cursed their president for corruption, stagnation and his desire for a royal succession. Arab leaders may try to convince themselves that such adoration in sincere, but their reliance upon multiple security services signals their recognition of reality.

White House pressure for reform antagonized these leaders, as the whining nature of editorials in state-run newspapers demonstrated. Previous US administrations, both Democrat and Republican, spoke of human rights, democracy and transparency, but did not push the issue. Bush did. Mubarak did not expect Washington to withhold $134 million in aid to win Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim’s release. Mubarak’s subsequent acquiescence to allow contested elections was the result, in part, of Western pressure.

Bush’s reform push was as unpopular among the US foreign policy establishment as it was in Arab capitals. Many “realists” criticized the White House for pressuring such long-standing allies. But Bush, at least initially, refused to accept that the only choice in the Middle East was between the rule of autocrats and theocrats. Against the advice of many career diplomats, he directed the State Department to help build a platform upon which liberals and reformers could thrive.

Bush’s initial success is best seen in juxtaposition to his subsequent failure. As critics condemned the effectiveness of his push toward reform and questioned the wisdom of pressuring allies, leaders in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen began de-prioritizing democratization, closing newspapers, arresting opposition leaders, torturing bloggers, cancelling elections and abandoning pledges to retire from office. Because of this, many Arabs may come to regret their hostility toward Bush and his policies.

As the realists again rise triumphant, stability will trump reform. The same figures who Bush now embraces backed Syria in Lebanon, and ensured Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s grip on power after ordinary Iraqis heeded President George H.W. Bush’s February 15, 1991, call for “the Iraqi people [to] take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein the dictator to step aside.” These realists did not blanch as Saddam massacred tens of thousands of civilians.

New policies may revive old dictatorships. European governments find it easier to trade with the Revolutionary Guards-operated companies in Iran than press for economic opportunities for ordinary Iranians. Former US ambassadors to countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey would rather cash in on their connections to ruling parties than see old faces disappear upon the whim of the electorate.

Nor will Arab civil society organizations be able to rely on their “progressive” counterparts in the West to defend liberalism and reform. Hatred of Bush trumps declared principles. Because Bush made democratization and reform the centerpiece of his Middle East strategy, many Western progressives dismiss them as priorities or even as desirable. After all, in progressive rhetoric how can Bush be both an idiot and correct?

Instead of democracy, many progressives have come to romanticize “resistance.” They have become attracted to the same rhetorical motifs projected by liberation movements of a generation past and Islamists today. Embrace of multiculturalism has morphed into a cultural relativism that justifies oppression in the name of culture.

The majority of Arab civil society may celebrate Bush’s election rebuke and welcome the end of the Bush years but, as anger fades and Washington re-embraces realism, Arab reformers from Rabat to Riyadh may find they have missed their best opportunity, while dictators and theocrats seize theirs.

Michael Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He wrote this commentary for THE DAI

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November 30th, 2006, 10:44 pm

 

20. Atassi said:

=====================
POLITICS
Siniora: ‘Democratic system is in danger’
Therese Sfeir
1 December 2006
Daily Star
English
(c) 2006 THE DAILY STAR, BEIRUT, LEBANON.

Beirut — BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora urged supporters Thursday not to despair over what he called attempts by the political opposition to destroy the country’s democracy.

“Do not be afraid and do not despair; we have a rightful cause,” he said in a news conference at the Grand Serail.

The premier warned that Lebanon’s democracy was endangered after a call by Hizbullah and allied parties for protests to bring down his government.

“Lebanon’s independence is threatened and its democratic system is in danger,” Siniora said in a nationally televised address on the eve of expected massive and possibly protracted protests beginning Friday afternoon.

“Threats will not deter us. Maneuvers and ultimatums will not terrorize us,” he declared. “There is no way to topple the government but through Parliament; any other means are unconstitutional.”

The premier said that his government supported “true and honest partnership but not attempts to hamper its work.”

“What is happening today is an attempt to overthrow Lebanon’s Constitution; it is an attempt to transform Lebanon into an open arena for regional and international conflicts,” Siniora said.

He went on to quote slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, saying: “Nobody is greater than Lebanon.”

“The government of the independence … will continue to defend freedom and the democratic regime which are targeted,” Siniora said.

The premier said his government would fight against “the return of the tutelage” – a reference to Syria’s military and political domination in Lebanon, which ended in April 2005.

The head of Parliament’s largest parliamentary bloc, MP Saad Hariri, reiterated earlier accusations that Syria was behind the planned street protests. “Its ally, Hizbullah, will not be able force Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to step down,” Hariri said.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Hariri also accused Syria of being behind “attempts to try to stop the international tribunal” to try the suspects in the killing of his father, Rafik.

“We reject the formation of a national unity Cabinet which would include Syria’s allies and the allies of Rafik Hariri’s murders,” Hariri said in a separate interview with Abu Dhabi television on Thursday.

Meanwhile, former President Amin Gemayel urged “the Phalange Party supporters and all the Lebanese to promote cooperation and solidarity and hamper attempts to instigate a civil strife.”

The head of the Progressive Socialist Party, MP Walid Jumblatt, said Thursday that the strategy of “political tension used by some political parties will push the country toward an economic catastrophe.”

In a statement, Jumblatt said an “economic crisis now will destroy the factors that contributed to Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty and push investments away.”

In remarks on Thursday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir

Geagea urged the Lebanese to “go to their work normally on Friday” and stressed that the March 14 Forces would not hold counter-demonstrations.

Commenting on President Emile Lahoud’s reported call for Lebanon’s civil servants not to comply with directives from what he called the “illegitimate government,” Geagea said: “We wish President Emile Lahoud would not go to his work; that way the whole country would rest.”

Lahoud denied on Thursday media reports saying that he had ordered civil workers not to obey the government, saying that he only warned that the “government’s refusal to listen to the people’s demands might yield such results.”

PSP spokesperson Rami Rayes issued a sarcastic reply to Lahoud on Thursday.

“Instead of imitating Mahatma Gandhi and calling for peaceful and democratic demonstrations, Lahoud should have acted like [Syrian President] Bashar Assad, who is a symbol of suppressive regimes and has a long experience in leading coups, to build a free and democratic Arab state,” Rayes said.

He added that Lahoud should have submitted his resignation “to spare the country conflicts and fights, just like late former President Beshara Khoury did.”

Following a meeting with Siniora on Thursday, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said street demonstrations would not lead to the creation of a national unity Cabinet but would “widen divisions in the country.”

“Dialogue is the only means to resolve our problems. We have to communicate with the different factions in order to reach a political consensus,” he said.

Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said Thursday that he welcomed the holding of “democratic and peaceful demonstrations,” adding that “the majority forces will not confront the protesters on Friday.”

During a television interview, Hamadeh said the formation of a national unity Cabinet was “out of question,” arguing that the current Cabinet “enjoys the support of Parliament’s majority which was elected by the Lebanese people during in the last parliamentary elections.”

Former MP Fares Soueid said the March 14 Forces would not counter the opposition with further demonstrations. During an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio station on Thursday, Soueid said that “the necessary and legal forces would stop any riots that fall within a Syrian-Iranian plan to overthrow the government.” – Additional reporting by Maher Zeineddine

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November 30th, 2006, 10:50 pm

 

21. Alex said:

Wow, talk about delusional, wishful thinking. Mr. Maksad, I’d highly recommend you immediately go and buy a pack of Prozac, as you and Siniora lovers like you will need it in the next few days.

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December 1st, 2006, 2:43 am

 

22. Alex said:

eh … ALEX above, is not me.

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December 1st, 2006, 3:53 am

 

23. why-discuss said:

Atasi
Rubin is a neo-con supporter, his articles are so hyprocritical that it is sickening.. In view of the total disaster of their policy in the area, the neo-cons are trying to put the blame on someone, such cheap journalism and The daily star prints it!

“President George W. Bush’s policies have not been easy for many in the Middle East to digest.
yes, it has been very easy by the US with thousands of deaths..

While his father’s advisers sacrificed Lebanese freedom for the stability of the Syrian military presence until 2005, Bush sought actual Lebanese independence

The Syrian army came to stop lebanese civil war bloodshed and was allowed to stay by US inertia.
Yes, Bush allowed Israel to destroy economically Lebanon and eliminate the Hezbolla principal threat to Israel and to the neo-con plans to submit Lebanon to a US tutelage

It is not Bush to blame but the bunch of pro israeli neo-cons, Rubin been one of them..

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December 1st, 2006, 4:16 am

 

24. why-discuss said:

Akbar palace:

Iran + Syria + Hezbollah = many dead Lebanese

Jordan + Saudi Arabia + other moderate Arabs = 1 chance for a peaceful Lebanon, coexistence and baklava.

Jordan + Saudi Arabia + other moderate Arabs + ISRAEL= 1 chance for a weak, obedient and corrupt Lebanon, like Egypt!!

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December 1st, 2006, 4:20 am

 

25. simohurtta said:

Jordan + Saudi Arabia + other moderate Arabs = 1 chance for a peaceful Lebanon, coexistence and baklava.

Saudi Arabia will teach Lebanon religious tolerance. Egypt democratic ruling styles and how to have fair elections. Israel teaches Lebanon how to police by peaceful the people and gives advice how to develop country’s legal system and a fair land development system.

Hmmm the best “democratic” forces teaching Lebanon.

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December 1st, 2006, 7:23 am

 

26. annie said:

Akbar : Jordan + Saudi Arabia + other moderate Arabs = 1 chance for a peaceful Lebanon, coexistence and baklava.

Jordanian and Saudi and Egyptian leaders, not their people. Nobody likes you. Period. And you deserve it. Nothing to do with antisemtism.
As for the baklave …

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December 1st, 2006, 10:38 am

 

27. Innocent Criminal said:

He does not need to be “liked” to give his opinion of comment here. But I have been following Akbar’s comments here and other blogs and i have to say the dillusion rate is up in stratosphere. My favorite part is Saudi Arabia = moderate arab country. Quiet funny actually. Its comferting to know that not only pro-arabism are brainwashed.

I think my advise for you Akbar is to start a new hobby, its called “reading!!!!”. Especially from “independent” sources.

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December 1st, 2006, 11:36 am

 

28. t_desco said:

ISF/Hariri militia in the news:

West helps Lebanon build militia to fight Hezbollah
The Globe and Mail

Lebanon builds up security forces
Los Angeles Times

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December 1st, 2006, 11:56 am

 

29. Akbar Palace said:

Dear Innocent Criminal, et al,

Sorry to disagree, but I have been reading. News articles from the “pro-Israel” AP, Reuters, AFP, and the eyeopening translations from MEMRI.

As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, they are no different from other Islamic theocracies such as Iran and Pakistan. Except they don’t threaten their neighbors nor do they supply weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezzbollah.

Yes, I’ve been reading quite a lot, Habibi.

But if a country and her people want a theocracy, that’s fine with me. I have nothing against religion unless said religion arms terror organizations. And I’m not saying Saudi Arabia isn’t part of the problem. They certainly are, but when it comes to fixing the Middle East, they’re lower on the totem poll.

Annie chimes in:

“Nobody likes you. Period. And you deserve it.”

Unfortunately for you, lots of people like me. Ok, once in a while I piss somebody off, but we usually kiss and make up.

BTW – I “deserve” what? Can you be more specific?

Simohurtta,

It really is a quandry. Everytime I mention a moderate Arab state you nice people on this forum tell me how “corrupt” the state is. Iran isn’t corrupt or repressive? Your beloved Syria and “President for Life” Bashar?

Is destroying the Zionist Entity really the only thing that will make you happy?

Mr. Ghattas from the “pro-Israel” AP explains how the little terroroid Nasrallah wants to desolve the democratically elected Lebanese government.

Where are the cry-babies?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061130/ap_on_re_mi_ea/lebanon_protests

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December 1st, 2006, 12:02 pm

 

30. Max said:

Why the obsession with Hariri’s assassination?

Last time I checked, hundreds of people had been killed in the war between Hizbollah and the IDF/Israel — where’s the investigation into that?

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December 1st, 2006, 3:16 pm

 

31. Akbar Palace said:

Max –

Maybe because Hariri and Gemayel were both high government officials and maybe because the opposition believes that by killing cabinet members it can bring down the Lebanese government.

But then again, maybe if an Arab terrorist organization kills Arabs it’s no big deal.

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December 1st, 2006, 10:51 pm

 

32. Jad said:

“Please Ghassan, can you tell us what are exactly the universities elections and professional organizations elections?”

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December 2nd, 2006, 11:25 am

 

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