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Lebanese Govt Approves Trial Of Syrian Plotters

From those lovers of terror at Reuters:

Lebanon crisis deepens, cabinet backs Hariri court

By Nadim Ladki

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s political crisis deepened on Monday as a depleted cabinet approved draft U.N. statutes for a tribunal to try the killers of ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri despite the resignation of six pro-Syrian ministers.

Official sources said the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora would now send the draft back to New York and wait for the final text on the special court to return.

"Here we are today on the road to revealing the truth and achieving justice through the court with an international character that will be formed to stop this series of terrorist and criminal acts," Siniora told reporters after the meeting.

The move coincided with a political storm that threatens to spill into street confrontations.

Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf, loyal to Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud, resigned shortly before the cabinet met. Five Shi’ite Muslim ministers from Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, quit on Saturday over the collapse of talks on their demands for effective veto power in the government.

Nine of the cabinet’s 24 members must resign for it to fall. A Sunni Muslim minister quit in February, though his resignation was not accepted, leaving 17 ministers in the cabinet.

Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, vowed to press ahead with demands for a national unity government, saying Siniora’s cabinet had lost its legitimacy because the Shi’ites, Lebanon’s largest community, had quit.

"The government has lost its legitimacy and its decision today on the draft of the international court is meaningless and void," Aoun told a news conference.

Siniora said his government was still legitimate.


Politicians and analysts said the crisis was likely to spill into street confrontations that could shatter stability and damage efforts to recover from a devastating war with Israel.

"It’s hard to see how this situation will be resolved without there being some violence," Andrew Exum, research fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Reuters.

"The hope is that if there is a clash it will shock everyone back to the negotiating table before it gets out of hand."

The crisis dragged the country’s stock market lower with the BLOM stock index ending the day 2.23 percent lower.

The anti-Syrian majority coalition has accused Hezbollah of implementing a Syrian-Iranian plan to overthrow the government and to foil efforts to set up the court to try Hariri’s killers.

The Shi’ite group has denied this.

Sarraf, a Christian, said in a letter to Siniora that he was resigning "as I can’t find myself part of any constitutional authority that lacks representation from a whole religious sect."

Siniora has rejected all the resignations but a senior source close to the ministers said they stood by their decision.

The United States has already accused Iran, Syria and Hezbollah of plotting to topple the government, which Washington holds up as an example of emerging democracy in the Middle East.

Hezbollah said on Sunday it would stage peaceful street protests as part of a campaign to press its demands for better representation in government for its allies, especially Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun.

Anti-Syrian leaders have pledged counter-demonstrations should Hezbollah take to the streets, raising fears of violence at a time of rising tension between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

Many Lebanese blame Syria for the killing of Hariri, a Sunni, in a suicide truck bombing. Damascus denies involvement.

Hariri’s 2005 assassination led to mass protests against Syria. Under international pressure, Syria ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon in April last year and anti-Syrian politicians swept to victory in ensuing elections.

A U.N. commission investigating the assassination has implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian security officials.

This is actually pretty surprising news. What’s left of the Lebanese cabinet has voted to investigate and try the Syrians involved in the assassination of their former premier and replace him with a Syrian puppet.

Meanwhile, in our own country, the brainiacs of the left like Pelosi and Reid are insisting we beg the murderers in Syria (and the madmen in Iran) to help us in Iraq.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 13th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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