News / Middle East

Lebanon Faces Deepening Political Crisis Over International Tribunal

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, is seen during a Cabinet meeting at the Government House in Beirut, Lebanon, 23 Sep 2010
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, is seen during a Cabinet meeting at the Government House in Beirut, Lebanon, 23 Sep 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Syria and its political allies in Lebanon continue to exert pressure on the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in what analysts say is another attempt to put an end to the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al Hariri.

Lebanon appears to be facing more political tension and a possible governmental crisis as Syria and its allies flex their muscles in a show of force against the pro-Western parliamentary bloc behind Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who is aligned with both Syria and the militant Hezbollah, is threatening to boycott the government unless it agrees to discuss a topic aimed at discrediting the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al Hariri.

'False witness'

Berri's spokesman, Ali Hamdan, insists the move is intended to clarify the situation and to debate the issue of false witnesses, which he argues was investigated by Lebanon's Minister of Justice, but tabled by the government.

"In mid-August, the Council of Ministers asked the Minister of Justice to prepare a report regarding the false witnesses in the Hariri case, and till now the report is ready, and till now the prime minister and the council of ministers [has not] asked to see the report and trace the issue."

Syria has been waging a rear-guard action against the tribunal, accusing it of fabricated testimony.  In August, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah used another line of attack, replete with satellite photos, to allege that Israel had a hand in Hariri's killing.

A photo of slain Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is seen on his grave at Martyr's Square, central Beirut, Lebanon, 03 Mar 2005
A photo of slain Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is seen on his grave at Martyr's Square, central Beirut, Lebanon, 03 Mar 2005

Leaders of Lebanon's pro-Western March 14th parliamentary bloc have repeatedly accused Syria of masterminding the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, in addition to a number of deaths of other political opponents.

Syrian ally Hezbollah took control of parts of Beirut in May 2008, after a long and protracted struggle with the government of then-prime minister Fouad Sanioura.  A political deal, mediated by Qatar, and further Syrian pressure after June 2009 parliamentary elections, allowed Hezbollah to enter the government.

Hezbollah's intention

A number of Lebanese analysts have worried openly that Hezbollah, backed by Syria, is planning another attempt to topple the government, following reports that the international tribunal was about to accuse the group of involvement in Hariri's assassination.

Former member of parliament Mustapha Allouche, an ally of Prime Minister Hariri, believes Hezbollah and Syria will do everything possible to stop the tribunal.

"Everyone expects that something bad is going to happen," he said. "However, everyone is also cautious about what is the next step after the bad things happen.  This is why everyone believes that if the opposition will boycott the government, most probably this will be a step in the void.  The Syrians do not want the tribunal.  They are trying politically to stop the tribunal."

Allouche is not sure if Syria is prepared to use force to stop the tribunal, but Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris believes that the possibility exists and the international community must act to forestall such a development:

He says that Hezbollah, in league with Syria, appears to be exerting all sorts of pressure to force the international community to abolish the tribunal, even though this is impossible, since it would need a resolution of the U.N. Security Council, and the tribunal is above international and regional pressure.  He says Hezbollah may attempt some sort of military action.

Abou Diab worries that Lebanon is caught in mounting regional conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs and urges the international community to prevent a new conflict from erupting.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid