Skip to comments.Hizbullah wins veto right in government
Posted on 05/21/2008 9:09:36 AM PDT by mojito
Rival Lebanese factions reached an agreement to resolve their 18-month political crisis after five days of intensive talks in the Gulf state of Qatar, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said Wednesday.
The agreement was a major triumph for Lebanon's Hizbullah-led opposition, as it met the side's two key demands - veto power in a new national unity government, and an electoral law that divides up Lebanon into smaller-sized districts, for better representation of the various sects.
But the opposition was not gloating and Hamadeh said "there are no losers" in the agreement. "Lebanon is the winner," he told The Associated Press on the phone from Doha, the Qatari capital.
Hamadeh said the factions reached the breakthrough deal at dawn Wednesday. A signing ceremony was expected at 10:30 a.m., chaired by Qatari ruler Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Speeches by both sides and the Arab mediators would follow, he said.
The Qatar-hosted came on the heels of Lebanon's worst internal fighting since the 1975-90 civil war, with clashes earlier this month between pro-government groups and the opposition raging in the streets of Muslim west Beirut, the central mountains and the north. At least 67 people died.
As the country came close to a new all-out war, Arab League mediators intervened and got the sides to agree to hold negotiations in Qatar on resolving the crisis that has paralyzed the country.
Along with veto-power on government policies, the Syrian-backed opposition will get 11 seats in the Cabinet, while 16 seats would go to the US and Western-backed parliament majority, and the remaining three would be distributed by the elected president, according to Hamadeh.
He said the rival factions have also agreed on a new election law satisfactory for both sides. The new electoral law is significant because it will determine how the sides distribute power in the capital and directly influence the outcome of the next parliamentary elections in 2009.
Lebanon has been without a president since November, when Emile Lahoud stepped down, with the rival factions unable to resolve their differences over a future government. Both sides, however, have agreed on Gen. Michel Suleiman, the army chief, as a consensus candidate, but Parliament could not muster a quorum to meet without both sides agreeing on remaining issues - including the formation of the national unity government and electoral law.
Hamadeh said he expected Suleiman to be elected by Friday.
He also said legislators from the parliament majority, who have been living abroad fearing for their safety after a wave of bombings targeting mainly anti-Syrian lawmakers and politicians, would be asked to return to Beirut to vote for the president in parliament.
Asked whether the agreement bans Hizbullah's supporters from taking up arms and turning their weapons on fellow Lebanese as they did earlier this month, Hamadeh only said the "agreement forbids internal use of weapons ... and calls for dialogue ... on the whole subject of arms."
The agreement was struck after host Qatar stepped up pressure Tuesday, offering the rival factions two drafts on how to end the deadlock and a day to consider the proposals.
Lebanese televisions reported that the Qatari Emir intervened personally late Tuesday, arriving at the Doha hotel for meetings with leaders of both Lebanese camps. The emir had visited Saudi Arabia earlier in the day.
The negotiations had hit snags from the very start, with neither side willing to give concessions. By late Tuesday, they were back to working in joint committees on how to divide Beirut into electoral districts.
The 18-month political deadlock started when Hizbullah-led opposition lawmakers resigned from the government in November 2006 to protest the Cabinet's refusal to grant them enough seats to ensure veto power.
The Qatar deal was also a triumph for the tiny energy-rich Gulf state. Lebanese stalemate had defied mediation efforts by other Arab and European countries, including shuttle diplomacy in the last year by the foreign minister of France, Lebanon's former colonial ruler.
Roving band of Iranian/Syrian backed terrorists win veto right over democratically elected government of Lebanon.
This is not a “compromise” or “National Unity” as the MSM portrayed it. It’s the political victory of Hezbullah.
One step closer to the end of the republic. Lebanon is on life support.
Very sad but I don’t think we will see Europe far behind. When a coddled citizenry have to face violence in their midst, they will likely opt for appeasement rather than fight. I don’t think the Lebanese did this but I do think this tactic will work wonderfully well in other countries: threaten violence, do violent acts, offer to stop if you get undemocratic political power awarded to you, then take over. The U.N. will probably roll right over for any “government” so reformed.
Some may make that case but in Europe it’s victory through population. Reading Mark Steyn’s “America Alone” and he cites these type of items as possible problems in Europe.
Don’t see it yet and France has already clearly pushed back. They have big underlying problems there with 5 million unassimilated people there.
Lebanon is far worse. The country can be destroyed now.
I think we bear much of the blame for this, not the Lebanese people. The reason Hizbollah was able to win was because it had Syrian and Iranian backing. Their opponents didn't have anywhere near the external support that Hizbollah had.
We should have backed the Christian and Sunni factions and given them the resources they needed to wipe out Hizbollah.
Now it's too late.
They got everything they wanted - control of their very own state, although still without the tedious responsibilities that go with being a legitimate government.
You are right. Once the opposition becomes institutionalized, it is very difficult to dislodge them from the corridors of power. I haven’t followed the Lebanon issues very well. Do they believe they didn’t get support from us because they weren’t Jewish?
I doubt it. I think it has more to do with political short-sightedness.
A few years ago, I listened to a talk by George Schultz, Reagan's secretary of state. He said his biggest regret was that the Reagan administration withdrew our Marines from Lebanon after the 1983 bombing of their barracks in Beirut. He supported the decision at the time, but he now realizes that it was a big blunder.
He said that at the time, with US support, the non-Shia factions could have obliterated Hizbollah. The problem was that no one in the administration, including himself, realized the strategic importance of doing so. Instead, they were worried about the political fallout from more casualties. Reagan was up for re-election the next year, and while the economic recovery had already started that year, it wasn't clear that it would stick, so Reagan's re-election was by no means a certainty at that point. So helping the good guys in the Lebanese civil war didn't seem like good politics.
Of course, our withdrawal from Lebanon gave Hezbollah an edge; the only option moderates had at that point, short of obliteration by Hizbollah, was allow Syria to come in and end the war, which it did. That, of course, led to an oppresive Syrian occupation, which in turn allowed Hizbollah to firmly entrench itself in the south.
When Syria finally ended its occupation of Lebanon a few years ago, I think we had an historic opportunity to help the Christians and moderate Muslims destroy Hizbollah. But again, we squandered the opportunity and now we're faced with a situation wherein yet another mid-east government has to share power with terrorists.
Thank you for taking time to explain that. It is sad how often human destinies are determined by short-term political expediencies like a presidential election thousands of miles away. Little wonder the world watches with trepidation our political turmoil every two to four years.
Yup, as I've often suggested, arm and train them rather than the palestinians. And we should have opposed the participation of Hizbollah in elections.
At this point, it may be too late. I fear there isn't much we can do at this point. We had an amazing opportunity in 1983 and we squandered it.