Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Blog

Nearly a dozen Lebanese opposition cabinet ministers have resigned their posts today, collapsing the current coalition government in Lebanon. The ministers, representing several parties of the March 8th bloc, have made their announcement at a press conference held at the residence of MP Michel Aoun, head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc.

The resignations followed the collapse of the Saudi-Syrian initiative to resolve tensions over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which Prime Minister Saad Hariri backs but which Hezbollah accuses of being corrupt and politically motivated.

According to leaked media reports, the STL investigation is expected to accuse Hezbollah operatives of having played a role in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Current Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Western allies, including the US, have defended the legitimacy and impartiality of the STL investigating his father’s murder, arguing that those making speculative threats and accusations before the STL produced any recommended indictments or evidence were the ones responsible for undermining stability in Lebanon.

Citing the press leaks and the lack of interest in investigating proven false witnesses, and claiming to have proven the STL’s corruption by secretly buying parts of the evidence it collected, Hezbollah insisted that the STL was part of a conspiracy to weaken the organization by tarnishing its image and undermining its public support.

The Saudis and Syrians, respectively allies of the Hariri March 14th camp and the March 8th camp, had put forward a reconciliation initiative which they hoped would circumvent the potential for violence by resolving the crisis early on. Although the details of Saudi-Syrian initiatives are unknown, the March 8th camp was the party pushing for its acceptance and now claims that Prime Minister Hariri had rejected the initiative under pressure from Washington.

Prime Minister Hariri is currently in Washington and met with President Obama today.  Here is the White House readout of that meeting.

One of the first reactions in the US Congress came from Arab American Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA), who released the following statement:

Lebanon remains one of the most important allies of the United States in the Middle East...  I encourage the Obama Administration to continue its support of the people of Lebanon as they work to build a politically stable and independent nation, safe from the threat of terrorism.

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