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Pressure Continues to Mount Between Syria, Lebanon


Syria is struggling to save what it can of its interests in Lebanon, as the Lebanese opposition is upping the stakes.

As Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria are negotiating a plan for Syria to pull out of Lebanon, Syria said it insists on keeping 3,000 troops and early-warning stations inside Lebanon to maintain its security, a proposal the Arab leaders consider unworkable in the face of intense uproar for Syria to pull out, according to news reports.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa and the foreign ministers of Yemen and Mauritania, meeting at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, urged the country to follow the so-called Taif accord, in which Syria committed itself to gradually redeploy from Lebanon. It never complied, however.

Meanwhile, Lebanese opposition leaders are demanding that Syrian allies be purged from key security and intelligence positions in the Lebanese government. They also reiterated, at a meeting in Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's ancestral castle last night, demands that Syria remove its troops from Lebanon immediately.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya TV reported that Syria has removed large sums of money from Lebanese banks in recent days and that the Lebanese currency is under strong selling pressure.

Further pressure is also hitting the Lebanese economy as thousands of Syrian workers continue to flee the country, amid increasing popular hostility to Syria.

As relations between Syria and Lebanon deteriorate, the Syrian dailyTeshreen asks in an editorial "what is the matter in Lebanon?"

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