Posted by Joshua on Monday, November 6th, 2006
Ibrahime al-Amine, "Will Washington agree to Riyadh’s initiative…?” in al-Akhbar, Nov. 3 (Thanks to mideastwire.com translation)
Ibrahime Al-Amine, chairman of the board of directors of Al Akhbar, an independent newspaper, commented in its November 3 issue about the latest developments in the Lebanese internal issue. Al-Amine wrote: “It seems that matters are headed towards a tougher confrontation than the Lebanese expected. The country is not moving toward a civil war but what is certain is that the governing team has exceeded for the first time the borders of the internal game with its regional dimensions and placed itself in the custody of the United States and France, thus linking everything, even its political fate, to the American agenda in the region. This is what has been revealed so far by the unannounced results of the talks held by MP Walid Jumblatt in the United States from which the man returned with higher morale and with a promise that there is no room for any American-Syrian settlement in the foreseeable future and that Washington had isolated once and for all the Lebanese issue from what is taking place between it and Syria.”
Al-Amine added: “It seems that the agreement was assured because of the consideration that the current opposition to the government is only a tool in a Syrian project which aims at achieving a coup d'état against the current situation to force the United States into talks with it to formulate a new compromise for the situation in Lebanon. Despite the fact that Riyadh is expending efforts, that might constitute the final attempt before the outbreak of the confrontation, the reality of the situation points to the fact that both sides, even if they went to the dialogue table, are preparing for the end confrontation. The decisive talk announced by the secretary general of Hezbollah Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah isn’t related only to the internal calculations linked to the behaviour of the ruling team but also reflects the size of the pressure applied by the United States on Lebanon to force it to remain within a certain circles under the threat of total political and economic isolation and maybe even exposing the country to conflicts that might lead to the current fate of Iraq.”
Al-Amine continued: “The sharp American attitude towards the opposition forces started leaking out through the attitude and letters delivered by the American ambassador Jeffery Feltman directly as he tells his visitors that his country can’t remain neutral about what her enemies want in Lebanon. He adds that his country stands alongside the government and alongside its supporters and that it will not abandon them. But Feltman, who knows that matters are getting more complicated than ever, stops at the Saudi initiative whose success seems linked in the first place to the American attitude itself which seems not to have been settled in the direction of calming things down especially as Lebanon already has had an experience with the United States and the Saudi initiatives when Riyadh worked last winter to make the poles of the quadruple alliance agree so two officials from the Amal movement and Hezbollah went to Saudi Arabia and met with MP Sa’d Al-Hariri and agreed upon a mechanism to manage the governmental situation according to prearranged political agreements as was decided before the elections.
"Then as soon as Hariri’s positive report came out, objections rose in Beirut from MP Jumblatt and the head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea who then admitted that these objections were reached through coordination with the United States which promised to take care of the Saudis, thus the result was that the whole Saudi effort was sabotaged.”
Al-Amine added: “Today, the Saudi and Egyptian ambassadors say that parliamentary speaker Nabih Birri’s initiative must be supported not through answering his call for dialogue but by agreeing on the principle of discussing the issue of forming a national unity government through expanding or the government or switching some positions. Saudi Arabia hastened to prove this desire by informing the poles of the opposition Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic movement. This was accompanied by directing an invitation to General Aoun to visit Saudi Arabia as soon as possible. What is even more important is that the coordination between the majority team and the United States seems now to have crossed the regional axes which aroused unprecedented talk about ‘Saudi annoyance’ at the behaviour of some of the prominent figures in the majority team but that the translation of this annoyance remains within closed rooms even if the Saudi side is more anxious than before to applaud Prime Minister Fu’ad Al-Sanyurah while not providing the traditional cover for the statements of MP Al-Hariri…” (Al Akhbar, Lebanon; MEW Nov 3)
See also Rami Khoury,"Is Lebanon the Hub of a New Cold War?" interviewed by Seth Walls on MSNBC website Nov 3, 2006.