02/26/2008, 00.00
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Moussa returns from Beirut empty-handed

by Paul Dakiki
Although no one is admitting it formally, the Arab initiative has failed. The possibility of reviving it depends on political pressure from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. For the 15th time, the parliamentary session to elect the republic's president has been delayed.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Arab initiative to resolve the Lebanese crisis is now hanging by a thread: yesterday, Amr Moussa, secretary of the Arab League, left Beirut after a second meeting with representatives of the majority and the opposition, who have not succeeded in clearing the way for the election of the republic's president.  Head of parliament Nabih Berri, the leader of opposition party Amal, has for the 15th time delayed - until March 11 - the meeting of the deputies who would elect the new president.

Before leaving, Moussa said that he agrees with the choice of Michel Suleiman as president of the republic, but not about the rest, in particular in regard to the composition of the national unity government which, according to the plan of the Arab League, should be appointed after the president's election. "It is a question of numbers", he explained.  In confirmation of the failure of the mission, Moussa said "I will return", but he did not indicate when.

The possibility of reviving the Arab initiative now appears to depend entirely on political pressure on Syria, being applied through the threat of boycotting the league's summit, scheduled to be held in Damascus at the end of the month.  Already expressed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, this threat was reiterated by Bahrain yesterday.

On the domestic front, progress has been made in the discussion of the possibility of creating a "technical" government with the sole purpose of leading the country to elections.  An admission in this sense has also been made by the UN envoy, Geir Pedersen.  This hypothesis appears to have little chance of practical success, since only the president of the republic can authorise the formation of the government - which brings the circle back around to the current situation.

Besides, as the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat has noted, Hezbollah and its sponsors Syria and Iran put the continuation of war against Israel about everything else.  This means the rejection of any president and government that would not serve this purpose.  Likewise to be rejected according to them is the action of the security council, beginning with the inauguration of an international tribunal that would judge those responsible for the political assassinations committed in Lebanon in recent years, the real bugbear for Damascus, which was certainly involved in these.

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See also
Arab League summit in Damascus delivers “lukewarm” results
Arab pressure on Syria over the election of the Lebanese president
Amman could join the boycott of the summit in Damascus
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to boycott Damascus meeting
Some positive moves from Riyadh summit for Israel, not for Lebanon


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