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A Saudi – Syrian Initiative or Idea? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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During his last visit to Paris, the Syrian President [Bashar al-Assad] stressed that there is no Saudi – Syrian initiative and that the solution to resolve the issue of the Hariri international tribunal potentially accusing Hezbollah [of the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri] must come from the Lebanese themselves. However despite this, there is still talk about what some have labeled a “Saudi – Syrian initiative” and what others have called Saudi – Syrian “ideas” [to postpone or neutralize the tribunal], and this is something that is gaining momentum day after day.

Of course, there is nothing that can completely confirm this, and one source has stressed “believe me, there is no initiative!” There are those who don’t want to accept this denial, and it is enough here to say “there could be ideas [in this regard]; however I cannot say that this is an initiative.” Whilst another source has confirmed that “some ideas are difficult to implement.”

There are Saudi – Lebanese sources, who agree with one another even though they appear to be on different sides, that: there are ideas being discussed, including the idea that after the international tribunal issues its decision accusing Hezbollah, the March 14 Alliance or Saad Hariri’s party would announce that justice has been carried out and that this does not mean the accusation of an entire sect or that Lebanon has no choice but to follow [the decision] of the international tribunal. It is enough here to recall that the international tribunal is an international body and that Lebanon does not have the right to end it. Following this, peaceful statements will be issued to ensure a sectarian confrontation does not break out in Lebanon.

In return [for this], Hezbollah and its allies would be required to fulfill a number of conditions; four conditions according to some sources, and three according to others. These are: Hezbollah would waive its “obstructing third” [veto power] over the Lebanese parliament; Hezbollah would pledge to remove the weapons from the Lebanese camps and groups that it previously armed, including the Sunni militias affiliated to Hezbollah or Syria, particularly as such arms were previously used to occupy Beirut, as well as Hezbollah pledging never to occupy the capital again. The third condition would see Hezbollah pledging to return to national dialogue, and finally fulfilling the provisions of the Taif Agreement, particularly with regards to the Assembly of Representatives and other provisions.

This is [potentially] the outcome of what is happening in Lebanon today, according to the level of information that we have at hand, even if there is different – if not as well-informed – information and analysis to the one above. However this is also interesting, and according to informed sources, Hezbollah feels that this talk about a [Saudi – Syrian] initiative aims only to neutralize the group during this period, and that Hezbollah is today facing the reality that it expected, which in turn explains the statement issued by the Iranian Supreme leader [Grand Ayatollah Khamenei] to the effect that the international tribunal is “null and void.”

According to sources, Khamenei’s announcement came as no surprise to the Lebanese, for he had previously informed them of his opinion during [Saad] Hariri’s last visit to Tehran, and at the time the Lebanese had called on the Supreme Leader of Iran not to disclose this [publicly] as it would only further complicate the situation. However the Iranian Supreme Leader announced his position after this issue failed to witness any progress following Hariri’s return from Tehran. This confirms what I said in my article “Hezbollah: “Sisterly” Iran to the Rescue” which was published on 22/12/2010, that the Supreme Leader’s statement signified the end of the deadline granted to Damascus by Tehran, and this is something that was confirmed on the following day by French sources.

The interesting issue here, which is perhaps useful to any observer, is that after talking to a number of sources the only thing that is not open to doubt is that all parties have become increasingly more suspicious of one another.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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