May 21, 2008

Lebanon deal - 'no winners or losers'

What a diplomatic coup for Qatar! Finally, Lebanese leaders agreed on a deal to elect a new president and form a unity government - a 'no winner, no loser' deal. The consequences had these talks failed were grim, fighting would have immediately broke out in Beirut. Everyone is relieved that an agreement was reached.

As a response the opposition began to remove the protest in the middle of Beirut which had lasted for more than one and half years and had all but paralyzed this important commercial area of Beirut. It's expected that a new president, Michel Sleiman, will be elected in a special session in the parliament on Sunday.

This deal is a blow to the US foreign policy (and Israel), to take out Hizbollah and Syria from the political equation altogether was the center of United State's 'New Middle East' policy, instead they're back at the center of Middle East politics.

The issue of Hizbollah arms wasn't really up for discussion, the pro-government group wanted a guarantee that Hizbollah will not use their arms in any internal conflict and they've got it. But Al-Arabiya and BBC Arabic (radio), unfortunately, continued arguing, until this morning that this was the main point and they've been trying to make as if the Lebanese people were worried about this. Their correspondent in Lebanon, Rula Al-Ayyoubi, went to the street to ask for the people's reaction to the deal and she started with saying that 'Of course, Hizbollah's arms was the most important issue for the Lebanese people ... ' and once again this morning the presenter made the same point to a pro-government minister who responded by saying that the pro-government group were only interested in getting a guarantee that it won't be used, and disarmament wasn't on the table.

This is a great diplomatic achievement for Qatar, to be able to end the Lebanon crisis which had last for several years now. This summer will be important for Lebanon and tourism and business will be boom again.

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