Within the circles of Nabih Berri, head of the Amal Movement, there are claims that Berri suggested that Saudi Arabia holds talks between Lebanese factions and that he requested invitations to be extended to the various groups so that a solution to the Lebanese crisis would be reached through the Saudis. But, apparently, Saudi Arabia refused and so Qatar reaped the benefits.
The least that could be said in this regard is that it is complete nonsense!
The formation of the Arab committee that led to the Doha meeting was completed under the auspices of the Arab League with Saudi, Egyptian and therefore Arab approval.
If anyone is to be labeled the losing party as a result of attending the talks in Doha then it is undoubtedly Nabih Berri. The fact that Lebanese dialogue had to be held in Qatar means that Nabih Berri failed in holding talks in Beirut and is no longer trusted by the factions or even by foreign mediators and initiators.
The fact that the talks were held in Doha is an indication of Berri’s failure especially that he is part of the conflict that has led to the paralysis of democratic activity in Lebanon.
It is common knowledge that Berri’s men played a part in torturing the Sunnis in Beirut. Everybody saw the ugly side of the “Amal” forces during the Hezbollah coup. Moreover, his men, along with Hezbollah militants, hung images of the Syrian ruler in replacement of pictures of Sunni leaders.
I always used to say to a number of Saudi friends that there is no hope for the leader of the “Amal” movement. Do not waste your time.
I remember a long conversation that I had once in Beirut with the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Dr Abdulaziz al Khoja, where I said to him, “You’re wasting your time with Berri.”
The ambassador replied, laughing quietly, “No, brother Tariq, don’t say that.”
Ambassador Khoja would always defend Berri. Even when the Saudi embassy came under fire he defended the “Amal” leader in the Lebanese media.
However, Nabih Berri’s first comment with respect to the Saudi ambassador leaving Beirut after the Saudi embassy was shot at was “If the embassy has closed its doors then this means that the Arab Initiative is a thing of the past.”
Mr Berri’s remarks about Qatar reaping the benefits suggest that the talks, for him, represent room to maneuver rather than a solution to end the Lebanese crisis. As a result of his comments, for the observer, it is as if the talks are a basket that is being passed from keeper to keeper and the Lebanese are grapes that are being eaten by the Syrians and Iranians one by one.
When we talk about Saudi Arabia and Nabih Berri, there is no doubt that the “Amal” leader is unaware that he has lost his credibility and position amongst those who once thought highly of him.
I believe that the Saudi position today has come to resemble that of the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner when in response to being told that Nabih Berri wants to return to dialogue said, “He has played this game with me before.”
Nabih Berri’s credibility has been lost just as the credibility of the “weapons of the resistance” and [Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan] Nasrallah have been lost too.