Riyadh abandons Lebanese mediation efforts

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January 19, 2011 16:28

Saudi FM Prince Saud Al-Faisal (L) meeting his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. Photo - AP

Who: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani.

What: Saudi Arabia ditched all its efforts to mediate in Lebanon’s political deadlock after Hezbollah quit the government last week. Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, told the Saudi king is “withdrawing his hand” from Lebanon. “It’s dangerous, particularly if it reaches separatism or the division of Lebanon. This would mean the end of Lebanon as a model of peaceful coexistence between religions and ethnicities and different factions,” he added. Meanwhile mediators from Qatar and Turkey met the Lebanese president and prime minister as well as the opposition leader Hasan Nasrallah to speed up the reconciliation efforts.

Where: The meetings took place in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.

When: The Saudi FM issued the statement in an interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV channel on Wednesday, 19 January. The Turkish and Qatari officials met important Lebanese politicians on Tuesday.

Why: Hezbollah and their allies brought down Saad Hariri’s government last week, when their demands to cut Lebanon’s links to the UN-backed tribunal were rejected by him. The Syria and Iran-backed Shiite group says it expects party members to be implicated by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon which it accuses of being part of a US-Israeli plot. Caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is a Sunni politician who is backed by Western powers. Reports coming from Beirut say a leaked tape shows Saad Hariri telling a UN investigator in 2007 that Syria is behind his father Rafik Hariri’s death in 2005. Syria and its Lebanese allies strongly deny the charge.

How: Hezbollah and its allies have already warned of the serious consequences if the UN tribunal issues verdict against any of its members and tries to arrest them. The Lebanese capital is extremely tense as the Shiite militia showed its street power and held marches in its strongholds. “We think that the situation is in a very dangerous stage and the country is heading toward (problems) on the streets which means dividing the country,” Okab Sakr, a Sunni parliamentarian told the media.

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