Hariri: “commitments not fulfilled”

11 Jan
Hariri memorial shrine.

Image via Wikipedia

 It’s your fault!

 No, your fault!

 No, your fault!

 You!

 You!

Unfortunately, this is the game the March 8 and March 14 camps have been playing over the last few days.  The impact of the Saudi-Syrian settlement that aimed to calm tensions between supporters of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and supporters of Hezbollah has so far been limited.  Despite what some fear-mongerers believe, both sides desire peace – but they also covet dignity.  Neither camp wishes to be the one to make the first move and, in all likelihood, neither really wants to fulfil their side of the bargain.

The precise clauses of the settlement have not been made public, but it seems that Hezbollah had pledged to withdraw the Syrian arrest warrants issued a few months ago against a number of members of Lebanon‘s majority, especially Hariri’s work team, which has damaged ties between the two sides.  In return for the withdrawal, Hariri would announce that he would not accuse Hezbollah of the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, even if the indictment in the investigation did accuse some members of the party.

The commitments also encompass general stability, internal security, along with Hezbollah avoiding using its weapons on the internal scene as stipulated in the Doha agreement.  As the Borj Abi Haidar clashes of August 2010 demonstrate, this last has not been implemented.

In remarks referring to Hezbollah, Hariri has pointed out that “commitments [were] not fulfilled by the other camp.” Rather than leading by example, however, he has refused to observe his own commitments until Hezbollah observe theirs.  Hariri has called on Hezbollah to take the initiative, while Hezbollah have responded that it should be the Prime Minister who acts first.

Why the stalemate? The trouble is rooted in the very fact of the STL’s existence.  Hezbollah see the tribunal as a personal insult; Hariri feels that he would be insulting the memory of his father if he stopped the tribunal from going ahead.  Each side fundamentally disagrees as to what constitutes a soothing in political tensions.  Hezbollah has taken this to mean a straightforward dissolution of the STL; Hariri’s focus is on limiting the impact that the findings of the STL can have, whatever they may be.

A spokesman for March 14 said that “regardless of the speculation over Hariri’s statements on what is required of the other camp, these assumptions should not eliminate the fact that the settlement has been reached.”  But a settlement that neither party observes may as well not exist.

Ali Hassan Khalil, Amal MP, retaliated to Premier Hariri’s claims by accusing him of not cooperating with the settlement.  According to An Nahar newspaper, Speaker Nabih Berri asked Khalil to clarify with Hariri the steps the March 8 alliance should take to help the progression of the settlement.  Hariri replied that “they know what to do.”  Hezbollah emphasised their readiness to cooperate, apparently still desiring clarification.  They were “surprised to hear some officials close to the prime minister taking negative stances” and therefore hindering the settlement, according to Khalil.  Such political gaming might go some way to answering why so many other countries have become embroiled in Lebanon’s continuing political saga.

With both parties reluctant to take the first step towards fulfilling these pledges, the stalemate seems set.

Meanwhile President Michel Suleiman is optimistic that a settlement in Lebanon’s political crisis will soon emerge.  He has emphasised hopes that the Saudi-Syrian solution will help reactivate the national dialogue and the normal functioning of the Cabinet.

Sources from the Presidential Palace in Baabda have reported that complete coordination is ongoing between him, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and House Speaker Nabih Berri.  Lebanon’s government shares power between religious sects: the President is Christian, the Prime Minister Sunni and the Speaker Shi’a.

Suleiman stated that the Lebanese are aware that no side can benefit from an escalation in tension.

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2 Responses to “Hariri: “commitments not fulfilled””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Lebanese Government Collapses « emserrs - January 13, 2011

    […] Saudi Arabia and Syria have since July been in talks to reach a settlement that would please both supporters of Hezbollah and of Hariri.  The talks were lauded as the best chance for the conflict to resolve: it would be an Arabic settlement and not a Western one.  Yet on Friday Premier Hariri told Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat that the Saudi-Syrian agreement had been finalised long ago and that Hezbollah had not lived up to its side of the deal.( https://emserrs.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/hariri-%e2%80%9ccommitments%e2%80%9d/) […]

  2. Lebanon Government Collapses « emserrs - January 13, 2011

    […] Saudi Arabia and Syria have since July been in talks to reach a settlement that would please both supporters of Hezbollah and of Hariri.  The talks were lauded as the best chance for the conflict to resolve: it would be an Arabic settlement and not a Western one.  Yet on Friday Premier Hariri told Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat that the Saudi-Syrian agreement had been finalised long ago and that Hezbollah had not lived up to its side of the deal.( https://emserrs.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/hariri-%e2%80%9ccommitments%e2%80%9d/) […]

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