05/12/2008, 00.00
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After winning the armed confrontation, Hizbollah is preparing to cash in politically

by Paul Dakiki
Hizbollah’s militias attack Jumblatt’s stronghold in the Chouf. Arab League announces a high-level delegation set to travel to Beirut to talk with majority and opposition leaders.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – In Beirut Hizbollah’s actions began with an attack against the city’s Sunni neighbourhoods, who are by and large favourable to majority leader Saad Hariri; they continued last night with attacks against the Chouf, the stronghold of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of the majority. In the end they achieved their military objectives which Hizbollah will try to turn to its political advantage.

In fact, the leading opposition group has already been able to have the government “suspend’ the measures that provoked its attack in the first place, namely the dismantlement of the party’s communications network and the removal of the chief of security at Beirut Airport.

Majority leaders like former President Amin Gemayel have also had to launch appeals for dialogue.

In the meantime, the streets of the capital, where calm has been restored, the army has taken control of key points. But clashes with deaths and wounded are still taking place in Bab el-Tebbaneh, Jabal Mohsen, Bshamoun and Tripoli.

Altogether five days of armed confrontation have left 59 people dead according to security sources.

A radio station reported rocket attacks and gun fire coming from Syria against a border post in Masnada.

And Lebanon’s military continue to play the role of impartial spectators to the conflict because Hizbollah’s militias are stronger and because 35 per cent of its ranks are Shia and its involvement in the conflict might cause it to break up.

Still the situation might end up strengthening the position of the current head of the armed forces, General Michel Sleiman, who had been slated to be the consensus candidate for the presidency, thus sinking the presidential ambitions of Hizbollah’s ally, General Michel Aoun.

Yesterday in Cairo the Arab League decided to send a high-level delegation but it has not yet been decided when it should arrive.

Led by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, the delegation was supposed to bring together for a meeting opposition leaders Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah for Hizbollah, Nabih Berri for Amal and Michel Aoun for the Free Patriotic Movement with current Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Saad Hariri e Amin Gemayel.

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who is in South Africa on a visit, said that what is happening in his country is not a “brief storm,” but the result of actions taken by people ‘in the service of foreign countries.”

“Foreign plans,” he added, “were not hatched yesterday.” Still the Lebanese must ‘negotiate peacefully because violence does not help Lebanon.”

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See also
A ray of hope as Moussa gets Hariri and Aoun to meet
Moussa to stay on another day as operations end in Nahar al-Bared
Doha agreement, a compromise at the right time
Secretary Rice brings US backing to Suleiman and Siniora
Hezbollah, proxy in someone else's fight, says Sfeir


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