09/01/2008, 00.00
LEBANON
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Affair of downed Lebanese army helicopter crosses national borders

President Suleiman will talk about it in Qatar, on the eve of Sarkozy's arrival in Damascus. On the domestic political level, no one is denying Hezbollah's responsibility, but following the appointment of a new head of the army, Nabih Berri proposes a coordination committee between the armed forces and the Party of God.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The problems related to security evidenced by the downing of a helicopter belonging to the Lebanese army - universally considered to be the responsibility of Hezbollah - are at the center of the domestic political debate, and will also be brought to the international level, since the president of the republic, Michel Suleiman, will talk about them during his visit to Qatar, which begins today. And tomorrow, French president Sarkozy arrives in Damascus, which is crucial to Lebanon's domestic situation.

Following the appointment of the new army commander, General Jean Kahwaji, who replaces Suleiman, also a Maronite, while majority representatives openly accuse Hezbollah of setting up an alternative structure independent of the state, the opposition, headed by the Party of God, is highlighting what As-Safir writes today: on the one hand, that "Hezbollah militants thought it was an Israeli commando raid", and on the other that the fundamental responsibility lies with the "poor advance coordination between the army" and Hezbollah, during a "state of mobilization" by the militants because of threats from Israel. Nabih Berri, head of the Shiite movement Amal and an important opposition representative, has expressly called for coordination between the army and Hezbollah, adding that the latter "will remain for Lebanon a need and a necessity".

Lebanese security problems will also be discussed during Suleiman's trip to Qatar, the diplomatic action of which led to the Doha accords, which put an end to the stalemate in Lebanese political life.

From this point of view, Suleiman's trip is also connected in some way to the one that will bring French president Sarkozy to Damascus tomorrow. If Syria's isolation can be "unfrozen", Damascus intends to obtain positive action from Bashar al-Assad for the solution of tensions in the entire Middle East, with Lebanon in first place. (PD)

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