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The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Lebanon
Lebanon: Hariri To Join Opposition, Commemorates Father’s Assassination
February 14th, 2011 by Alec
In a speech on Monday commemorating the 6th anniversary of his father’s (former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri) assassination, outgoing PM Saad Hariri announced that his party would be joining the opposition.  He also directly challenged Hezbollah, accusing the group of having used the threat of violence to assume power: “Those who are in the leadership position now used their weapons to get there. So good for them. Congratulations on the stolen position.”  Hariri spoke to a crowd of about 6,000 people.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, released a statement calling Rafik Hariri a symbol for Lebanon“He transcended sect and stood with the people of Lebanon, giving hope to his country after 15 years of ruinous civil war.”  The statement also called on the new Lebanese government to honor its obligations to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and promote justice for the Lebanese people: “Those who would try to block Lebanon’s cooperation should desist and show a measure of human decency. Ultimately, without justice, there can be no peace and stability for Lebanon.”
Posted in Hezbollah, Islamist movements, Lebanon, Political Parties, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Recent Developments in Egypt and Lebanon - Implications for U.S. Policy and Allies in the Broader Middle East, Part 2″
February 11th, 2011 by Alec
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs hosted Part 2 of a hearing on recent political developments in Egypt and Lebanon and their implications on U.S. policy in the region.  The hearing was moderated by committee chair Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen with comments and questions from House Representatives Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Chris Smith (D-NJ), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), David Rivera (R-FL), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), William Keating (D-MA), Dan Burton (R-IN), David Ciciline (D-RI), Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Donald A. Manzullo (R-IL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), and Mike Pence (R-IN).  Deputy Secretary of the State Department James B. Steinberg testified before the committee.
For a full transcript of Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s testimony, click here.
To read full notes continue below or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Egypt, Event Notes, Lebanon | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Recent Developments in Egypt and Lebanon:Implications for U.S. Policy and Allies in the Broader Middle East, Part 1″
February 10th, 2011 by Kyle
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held an open hearing on Wednesday, focused on the future of Egypt and Lebanon in light of recent political instability in Lebanon and unrest in Eygpt. To discuss the issues facing these countries and the region, the committee – chaired by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and with Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) in attendance – requested the testimony of three individuals: Elliott Abrams Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute and former Assistant Secretary of State; Dr. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
For full notes click here for the pdf.
Posted in Congress, Congressional Hearing Notes (House), Egypt, Lebanon | Comment »
Syria: U.S. Ambassador Presents Credentials
January 27th, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford presented his credentials to Syrian President Bashar Assad, thereby resuming full diplomatic relations with Syria. Ford is the first U.S. ambassador to Syria in five years, when then President George Bush withdrew the envoy following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Assad wished Ford success in his mission and in a statement, the ambassador hoped for improved US-Syrian relations: ”Relations between the United States and Syria often have been challenging. President Al-Asad and I talked about some areas in which we hope to identify mutual interests and ways of addressing them that serve the interests of both of our countries.” Ford’s arrival comes as tensions in Lebanon grow as Hezbollah-supported Najib Mikati attempts to form a new government. Writing in Foreign Policy, Andrew Tabler states that Ford’s main task will be helping find a resolution to the crisis in Lebanon and working to improve relations between Syria and Israel: “Ford’s success will ultimately depend on Washington’s ability to devise a strategy that deals effectively with Syria’s bad behavior while leaving the door open for future peace talks with Israel.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Lebanon, Syria | Comment »
Lebanon: Hariri’s Debates Next Move as Mikati Moves to Form Government
January 27th, 2011 by Alec
Lebanese Prime Minister-elect Najib Mikati, backed by Hezbollah, is holding talks to form a new government.  Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he will not join the new government while Mikati pledged to seek good relations with the United States and “consensus” on how to handle the U.N.-backed special tribunal.  Michael Young of Lebanon’s The Daily Star posits Hariri’s options as the talks get underway.  The first option, he points out, is to make good on his current rhetoric and not join the Mikati government.  This would deny it “Sunni legitimacy” and would force Mikati to form a cabinet of “one color” that would reject the tribunal.  This would cause damage to Mikati’s legitimacy and strengthen Hariri and his March 14 coalition.  However, Hariri’s participation in the government may actually open up more opportunities for him and his coalition.  Young argues that Hariri, as the dominant Sunni in the government, still has the ability to impose certain conditions in negotiations thereby limiting Hezbollah’s power.
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon | Comment »
Lebanon: Will Hezbollah-Backed Government Be Iran Proxy?
January 26th, 2011 by Alec
Jennifer Rubin writes that a Hezbollah-controlled government is essentially an Iranian “conquest” of Lebanon and represents a “horrible setback” for U.S. attempts to counter growing Iranian influence in the region.  She quotes Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who says that the current situation shows that the “main driver is Iran” along with Elliott Abrams who said that the U.S. may still be able to effectively back anti-Hezbollah opposition in Lebanon.  Zvi Bar’el argues the opposite, that Lebanon is not more Iranian or “Hezbollian” than it was before the crisis.  He points out the new Prime Minister Najib Mikati is not a a representative of Hezbollah, had served in the government of slain former PM Rafik Hariri, and has received foreign backing as well: “If Mikati has the support of Saudi Arabia, Syria and France, the United States will have a hard time opposing him.”
Posted in Hezbollah, Iran, Lebanon | Comment »
Lebanon: Hezbollah Nominates Candidate for PM, Calls for Protests From Hariri Supporters
January 24th, 2011 by Alec
The militant group Hezbollah has won backing from a majority of Lebanese MPs after Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and six other members of his Progressive Socialist Party switched their allegiance from Saad Hariri and the March 14th movement.  The group nominated Najib Mikati, a former billionaire businessman and Prime Minister, with support from 65 of the 128 members of the Lebanese Parliament.  A Hezbollah-dominated government may signal a realignment of Lebanon away from the United States and would likely denounce forthcoming indictments from the STL.  Hariri supporters have accused Hezbollah of launching a coup and have called for “day of anger” protests on Tuesday.  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley​stated that a Hezbollah-controlled government would complicate ties between the two countries and it would be difficult for the U.S. to continue to assist Lebanon.
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon, Political Parties | Comment »
Lebanon: Hariri Announces He Will Seek Premiership as Qatari-Turkish Negotiations Fail
January 20th, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that he will seek the premiership again during Monday’s parliamentary consultations. Elias Muhanna argues that the selection of Lebanon’s next prime minister will depend on Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze community. In his statement, Hariri also called for calm as Lebanese special police forces tightened security around official buildings: “Any drop of blood that falls from any Lebanese citizen is more important to me than any post.” Hariri’s announcement comes after Qatar and Turkey suspended talks over the crisis stating, “The final decision lies with Lebanese groups.  A joint statement from the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani and the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated that progress had been made in the form of a “working draft […] to resolve the current crisis in Lebanon based on the Syrian-Saudi initiative.”
Posted in Lebanon, Sectarianism | Comment »
Lebanon: Renewed Attempts to Mitigate Tension Amidst Crisis
January 19th, 2011 by Kyle
Following the release of sealed indictments by the United Nations Tribunal and the collapse of the Lebanese Government, Saudi King Abdullah has declared an end to the Saudi-Syrian initiative due to lack of progress. However, the Turkish and Qatari Foreign Ministers, Ahmet Davutoglu and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, respectively, are attempting to mitigate tension by meeting with Hezbollah and other high-ranking officials in the Lebanese Government. Fears of potential Hezbollah actions in response to the indictments and renewed sectarian violence remain rife. The group conducted a show of force that began early Tuesday in which Hezbollah members silenty patrolled the streets of Beirut in black uniforms, causing fear and panic among city residents. The US State Department responded to recent events stating: “We do have ongoing concerns that various elements within Lebanon – both inside Lebanon and outside Lebanon – will continue to try to politicize this process.”
Posted in Civil Society, Diplomacy, Hezbollah, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Lebanon, Political Islam, Political Parties, Protests, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Nations | Comment »
Lebanon: US Voices Support for Release of Indictments, Lebanon Alleges Internal Interference
January 18th, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, the controversial sealed indictments for the Special Tribunal on Lebanon were issued. President Barack Obama welcomed the indictment and called on Lebanese leaders to preserve calm and exercise restraint. Mona Yacoubian, writing at Foreign Policyargued that it seems likely that Hezbollah will use political tactics to overcome the crisis instead of violent ones. Hezbollah supporters gathered on streets Tuesday, however, “to send a message and at the same time [have] a trial run for future potential action on the streets.” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking on Sunday evening, rejected the re-nomination of Saad Hariri as prime minister, vowed to defend the Shiite movement against the indictments, and called for a “Lebanese solution” to the crisis. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami accused US ambassador Maura Connelly of interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs after she met with the independent Greek Catholic MP, Nicolas Fattoush, who is seen as a pivotal figure in building a new coalition. State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley denied such allegations: ”We are respecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and we would hope other countries would as well.” Arab foreign ministers also met on Monday to discuss the situation in Lebanon, but disagreed on what steps to take to help the country out of the current crisis.
Posted in Lebanon, United Nations | Comment »
Commentators Analyze Hariri/Hezbollah Strength after Walkout
January 14th, 2011 by Naureen
Writing for Foreign Policy, Elias Muhanna called Hezbollah’s walkout “uncharacteristically shortsighted” as it undermines Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ability to make conciliatory gestures toward the group when the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictments are released. Emile Hokayem assessed that Hariri was unlikely to have emerged from the situation strongly regardless, as distancing himself from the tribunal would have caused ire among Sunnis in his government, whereas supporting the tribunal would have led to a continuation of the internal deadlock. However, Hokayem argued the walkout has left Hezbollah in a stronger position and advises Hariri to “bank on the missteps of the opposition,” especially given his popularity among Sunnis and Hezbollah’s opposition to the STL.  Nicholas Noe, writing at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free, argued that the situation was avoidable and points blame at past and present U.S. administrations who failed to construct an effective policy towards Lebanon and relations with Hezbollah.
Posted in Lebanon, Sectarianism | Comment »
Lebanon: U.S. Leaders React to Government Collapse
January 13th, 2011 by Alec
In a readout from Laura Rozen of President Barack Obama’s meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the White House remarked that Hezbollah’s efforts to collapse the government in Lebanon demonstrated, “their own fear and determination to block the government’s ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people.”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the collapse was a deliberate effort by Hezbollah and its allies to disrupt the U.N. tribunal and “subvert justice” in Lebanon.  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called for a new government to form peacefully in accordance with the Lebanese constitution.  He reiterated that the U.S. does not want “outside parties” to take advantage of Lebanon’s internal crisis.  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, blamed the “Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis” for the crisis and reiterated the U.S. must support pro-democracy forces in the country and, “stand up to those who threaten Lebanon and all free nations.”
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon | Comment »
Lebanon: Government Collapses With Hezbollah Walkout
January 12th, 2011 by Alec
As Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with President Barack Obama today in Washington, Hezbollah resigned from the government in protest of the U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  Hariri, however, pledged to continue efforts to resolve the political crisis despite the apparent collapse of the recent Saudi-Syrian initiative to break the political deadlock.  Elias Muhanna, writing at Qifa Nabki, suggested that the walkout might have been planned well in advance and stated: “all they’ve done is ensure that when the indictments do become public, there will almost certainly be no Lebanese government in place to formally denounce them.”  Elliott Abrams claimed that the resignation is another way for Hezbollah to hold the nation hostage with support from Syria and Iran.
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon, Political Parties | Comment »
Lebanon: Hariri Meets with World Leaders on Special Tribunal, Internal Deadlock
January 10th, 2011 by Naureen
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed support for the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after meeting with the current Prime Minister Saad Hariri.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also reiterated his support for the independent tribunal and his hope that it “would help end impunity in Lebanon.”
Hariri also met with King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz of Saudi Arabia to discuss the Saudi-Syrian-brokered accord aimed at reducing political tension and maintaining stability in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Syria have been attempting to mediate the dispute between Hezbollah and Hariri’s government since July, with both sides accusing the other of stalling.
Posted in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sectarianism​, Syria | Comment »
Lebanon: Khamenei Dismisses STL, “Justice is More Important” Than Stability
December 21st, 2010 by Jason
Speaking during a meeting with the Qatari emir yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) “‘a rubber-stamp one whose verdict is null and void whatever it is.’” The Daily Star reports that the statement from the leader of Iran was not well received by many in Lebanon. “Labor Minister Butros Harb criticized Khamenei’s remarks, saying that it was up to the Lebanese to decide, ‘and not for others to dictate to them how to deal with the tribunal.’” Also in The Daily Star, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir worries about a possible take over by Hizbullah: “The way Hizbullah is acting and their talk about becoming a significant force leads us to believe that if the party continues to pursue its plan it could seize power.” The patriarch also contradicted the recent assertion by Roger Cohen that stability “trumps” justice, saying “‘Justice is justice and if we sacrifice it once, we could sacrifice it many times. Stability is important but justice is more important and guarantees stability.’”
Posted in Hezbollah, Iran, Lebanon, Political Parties, Sectarianism | Comment »
Lebanon: Stability “Trumps” Justice
December 13th, 2010 by Jason
Roger Cohen, writing in The New York Times, describes Lebanon as a “gravity-defying…country with two armies, a ‘unity’ government too divided to meet, a wild real estate boom and a time bomb called the ‘international tribunal.’” Attitudes in Lebanon about the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) have changed significantly since its inception. This change is embodied by Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze community: “A recent meeting between Jumblatt and Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, did not go smoothly. ‘He told me I’m a national leader and should back the tribunal,’ Jumblatt said. ‘I said, no, I prefer to be a tribal leader, I’m downgrading! And I asked what the use of tribunal justice is if it leads to slaughter? It’s better to drop justice for stability.’” Jumblatt’s notion of stability over justice is echoed by Cohen. “Lebanese stability is precious and tenuous: It trumps justice delayed, flawed and foreign.”

Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon, Political Parties, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
Lebanon: Names of Indicted to be Withheld for “Several Months”
December 9th, 2010 by Jason
The Daily Star is reporting that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will not announce indictments for “several months.” The article also reveals that “acting registrar Herman von Hebel said the budget had allocated funds to hold trial proceedings ‘toward the end of next year.’” Meanwhile, at a press conference Wednesday, Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad​described the STL as “rushed by the illegitimate cabinet of Fouad Siniora without being constitutionally ratified and placed within constitutional norms. The agreement was not signed by the president and it was not endorsed by Parliament as well.”
Posted in Hezbollah, Judiciary, Lebanon | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Crisis in Lebanon: Sectarian Politics, Regional Dynamics, and the U.N. Special Tribunal”
December 8th, 2010 by Jason
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held a panel discussion Wednesday titled “Crisis in Lebanon: Sectarian Politics, Regional Dynamics, and the U.N. Special Tribunal.” The speakers were Aram Nerguizian​, a scholar with the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Randa Slim, an independent consultant and a board member of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue and the Project on Middle East Democracy, Andrew J. Tabler, a Next Generation Fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute, and Mona Yacoubian​, head of the Lebanon Working Group at USIP and special adviser to USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Hezbollah, Israel, Judiciary, Lebanon, Military, Political Parties, Saudi Arabia, Sectarianism​, Syria, US foreign policy, United Nations | Comment »
Lebanon: STL Indictments are “Precursor to Strife”
November 26th, 2010 by Jason
According to a report in the Daily Star, MP Hussein Moussawi, from Hibzullah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc, said that “the impending indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a precursor to strife in the country.” Another MP, Walid Jumblatt (an influential leader in Lebanon’s Druze community), said the Tribunal “‘is aimed at destabilizing Lebanon rather than rendering justice,’” and that “‘[i]t is clear that this probe is being used for political purposes […] It is clear that the investigators are leaking information and are working for countries that have accounts to settle.’” Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri voiced support for the STL saying “‘We have to put dialogue ahead of tension. No strife will happen and no one will drag us into strife.’”
Posted in Civil Society, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Sectarianism | Comment »
Lebanon: Tensions Over the STL Continue to Build
November 9th, 2010 by Jason
Sami Moubayed writes at the Asia Times Online that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has pushed Lebanon to the “verge of a major explosion.” According to Moubayed, Hezbollah has been attempting to block the tribunal by removing the “state financing of the United Nations-backed court in parliament, claiming it had become politicized.” Saudi Arabia, an ally of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, has also been working to stall the STL using “its heavyweight influence in the world community to secure a postponement of the indictments until next March.” The legality of the STL has been questioned as well, an issue that recently reemerged when Italian judge Antonio Cassese, President of the STL, said that “in his capacity as a law professor and not as president of the tribunal, he acknowledges that the agreement to establish the STL was not concluded in compliance with the Lebanese Constitution,” but that the Lebanese government’s staffing of the tribunal means that it is nevertheless “bound by the agreement.”
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia | Comment »
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