News / Middle East

Lebanon Political Parties Gridlocked

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
Heather Murdock

Two days after the Lebanese government collapsed, Lebanese political parties remain locked in opposition over the international court investigating the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.   

When 11 ministers resigned on Wednesday, the government of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri dissolved.  Now, as parties get ready to select a new candidate for the post, political gridlock appears to be absolute.

The goal: to select a prime minster and that can form a new Lebanese government.  The problem: deep divisions over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) , the U.N.-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination.

On one side is the party of Sa’ad Hariri and his allies, the Western-backed ruling party known as the March 14 alliance.  They support the international tribunal.  Fares Souaid, the March 14 secretary general says as the his coalition’s position is clear. "We are going to support Sa’ad Hariri as the Prime Minister and we are going to confirm our support for the international tribunal," he said.

On the other side is the March 8 alliance, the opposition coalition that includes Hezbollah, a political party and Shi’ite militant group, which has the strongest military force in Lebanon and is backed by Iran and Syria.  Ten of the 11 ministers that quit the government Wednesday were from Hezbollah.

Hezbollah members are expected to be indicted by the court in connection with the assassination in the coming weeks.  The organization has repeatedly blasted the court and called on the Lebanese people to refuse to cooperate with investigators.  March 8 contends that the tribunal, which has strong support from the U.S., is not seeking justice.  They say the court is a Western political tool seeking only to discredit Hezbollah, a U.S. designated terrorist organization.

Alain Aoun is a Member of Parliament and of the Free Patriotic Movement, a powerful mostly-Christian party in the March 8 alliance.  He says the opposition will never accept a prime minister that supports the tribunal.  The tribunal, he says, is too politicized to deliver a fair verdict. "Lots of Lebanese people today don’t see anymore the STL as a path to justice and to truth, they see it as more of a political tool in a game of nations," he said.

Diplomatic efforts by Saudi Arabia and Syria to diffuse the situation have failed.  And on Monday, the parliament will meet to begin negotiations.  Both parties say the only way a consensus can be reached is if the other backs down.  March 14 says Sa’ad Hariri must be reinstated as prime minister.  March 8 says he must not.

And while the parties fight, the government, which has been almost entirely inactive for months, continues not to operate.

The one thing the parties do agree on is that as long as there is political instability in Lebanon, the risk of that instability moving onto the streets is great.  On Thursday two grenades were reportedly thrown into an office of the Free Patriotic Movement.  

Lebanon has a long history of sectarian violence, civil war and political assassinations.  For March 14, the fear is that if an agreement is not reached, Hezbollah will use weapons to force their party to acquiesce.  In 2008, the organization took over much of West Beirut in a matter of days, forcing the government to make structural changes in its favor.

Butros Harb, the Minister of Labor under Sa’ad Hariri, says, for now, he does not think it would benefit Hezbollah to try to take over again. "They know it would be a huge mistake.  It would blow up chances of co-existence between the people in the country.  It will create a new situation in the country that  will not be in the benefit of Hezbollah.  People will not be tolerating or accepting that it happens again, and I think they will react," he said.

Harb says the worst-case scenario is that no agreement is reached.  If this comes, he says, not only will the government be collapsed, but the entire governmental system will fall apart.

Before the debates begin Monday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to speak publicly.  And while Lebanon waits for an answer, fears that tension could turn to violence continue to linger.

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

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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.

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