|Moussa announces new mission to Beirut
|Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa announced Friday that he will be returning to Lebanon after the holidays with an initiative in hand to end the ongoing political deadlock. In his annual end-of-year meeting with the press in Egypt, Moussa said his plan still enjoys both Lebanese and Arab support. He also called for strengthening Arab dialogue with Iran, which he indicated he could be visiting at a later stage.
But despite Moussa's reassuring statements, observers and analysts are predicting a bleak outlook for the start of the New Year.
Friday's edition of local daily As-Safir quoted Hajj Hussein Khalil, the political adviser to the leader of Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as having accused the governing majority of scuttling Moussa's initiative, adding that after the holidays the opposition will move to early parliamentary elections as part of a plan of action that will ensure stability and reconciliation in the country.
Sources close to the majority indicated to the Central News Agency that the March 14 Forces are still open to any initiatives and discussions with the opposition based on suggestions within the framework of Moussa's initiatives.
Speaker Nabih Berri warned Friday against Sunni-Shiite strife, stressing that the Lebanese are one family and that no enmity exists between them, "only disagreements as we see today."
Speaking to a delegation of youth and student organizations from the opposition, Berri said he is in the midst of putting a new initiative forward.
But he added "no sooner did we start moving on this [initiative] than statements came out to inflame and create a hostile environment that could have dangerous repercussions," referring to MP Walid Jumblatt's controversial statements to Al-Arabiyya television station.
The speaker said he was surprised that March 14 Forces MPs submitted a petition regarding the international tribunal to try the killers of former Premier Rafik Hariri to the general secretariat of Parliament without it reaching the legislature first.
He said it was announced in the media that the draft would be submitted to Parliament but it never was, which he said was designed to make it look as if Shiites were opposed to the tribunal: "This is a very dangerous thing that is aimed at creating strife among Muslims."
He asked whether the tribunal was put forward to arrive at justice or to defeat opponents.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie is set to arrive in Lebanon on Saturday and will meet with Premier Fouad Siniora on Sunday. Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki plan to visit Beirut after the holidays to discuss the current crisis.
The Daily Star