News / Middle East

Arab League Calls Lebanese Crisis ‘Serious’

From left: Lebanese Ministers Ali Abdallah, Mohammed Fneish, Abraham Dedeyan, Hussein Hajj Hassan, Jibran Bassil, Mohammed Jawad Khalife, Fady Abboud, Charbel Nahhas, Youssef Saade and Ali Shami hold a press conference to announce their resignation in the
From left: Lebanese Ministers Ali Abdallah, Mohammed Fneish, Abraham Dedeyan, Hussein Hajj Hassan, Jibran Bassil, Mohammed Jawad Khalife, Fady Abboud, Charbel Nahhas, Youssef Saade and Ali Shami hold a press conference to announce their resignation in the

Multimedia

Audio
  • Hisham Youssef, Chief of Staff for the Secretary General of the League of Arab States

Cecily Hilleary

The resignations of 11 Hezbollah cabinet members in Lebanon has plunged the country into its worst political crisis since 2008, when sectarian street clashes claimed dozens of lives and brought Lebanon to the brink of another civil war. The so-called Doha agreement of May, 2008, ended 18 months of political violence.

The latest crisis revolves around the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal investigating the suicide bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in 2005.  Saudi-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain statesman, has supported the Tribunal, which has been set to blame Hezbollah. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in Hariri’s death, shifting the blame to Israeli.  

Both Syria and Saudi Arabia had been working to mediate the controversy, but those talks broke down earlier this week without any resolution.

Hisham Youssef is the Chief of Staff for the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa.  He spoke to VOA's Cecily Hilleary from his office in Cairo.

Full interview with Hisham Youssef:

Hilleary: How serious is the current situation?

Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, right, talks to his Chief of Staff Hisham Youssef at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt (file photo)
Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, right, talks to his Chief of Staff Hisham Youssef at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt (file photo)

Youssef: It is extremely serious. There is a political crisis, and therefore, it requires the attention not only of the Arab world, but of the international community as well.

Hilleary: There had been some optimism that Syria and Saudi Arabia’s mediation would have a positive effect. But the discussions failed rather suddenly. What happened?

Youssef: Well, they weren’t able to persuade the different political forces in Lebanon to reach an understanding that would allow them to agree on a future path of how to deal with the problems.

Hilleary: What was the main sticking point?

Youssef: The main sticking point is how to deal with the International Tribunal.  

Hilleary: What is the Arab League’s stand on the Tribunal?

Youssef: Well, this is a tribunal that is mandated by the [United Nations] Security Council.   Therefore, it is part of international legitimacy. And as part of the international legitimacy and part of Security Council resolutions, then we cannot but respect Security Council resolutions.

Our only remark that we can say in relation to this issue is that this Tribunal should not be politicized.  And we should ensure that it does its work in profession. That is the most important aspect of the Tribunal.   

Hilleary: Do you agree with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks that the withdrawal by the so-called March 8th ministers was simply an attempt to derail the Tribunal?

Youssef: Well, I think the situation is more complicated than that. However, we have to look to the future and see how we can help the different political forces in Lebanon regain normalcy and go back to a government that would be able to shoulder the responsibility of challenges facing Lebanon.

Hilleary: When will the League be meeting on this crisis, and what role do you see the Arab League playing in helping to resolve it?

Youssef: Well, as you may know, the Arab League has been extremely active regarding the difficulties facing Lebanon for quite some time, and the Doha agreement that was reached was reached in the context of Arab efforts that was [sic] led by the Arab League.

So the situation in Lebanon is of concern to us and we have been following this issue very closely, including efforts by Saudi Arabia and Syria. And we have a summit that will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh in a few days’ time. This will be preceded on the 17th of January with a ministerial meeting.

And I’m sure that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs who will be in Sharm el-Sheikh will be consulting on this issue to see what can be done, when it can be done and how it can be done. And in the meantime, there are very high-level contacts in order to see how to address this situation in general.  

Hilleary: Many politicians in Lebanon want a “homegrown” solution to the problem. Should Lebanon be left to solve this by itself?

Youssef: We would have hoped for Lebanon to be able to solve its problems by itself.  But this has proven to be quite difficult - for years and years.  So this is not the first time.  We can hope it will be the last.  Throughout the recent history of Lebanon there have been efforts by third parties to help Lebanese political forces to address their difficulties, and I think the current situation is no different.  I think Lebanon will need the help.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More