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Nabih Berri's Game - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s answer to speaker of the Lebanese parliament Nabih Berri’s call to re-launch dialogue was succinctly put when he said “He [Berri] has played this game with me before.”

The problem with Berri’s round table is that it’s a pointless vicious circle. In 2006 when the Lebanese were gathered around Mr. Berri’s table, Hezbollah was plotting to hijack Lebanon when the group embarked on an adventure and dragged the whole country into a destructive war with Israel that claimed the lives of approximately 1,000 Lebanese people.

Then Hezbollah deemed this devastation a victory, because Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah was safe. And ever since those meetings that were held for the sake of resuming dialogue, the Lebanese decision-making process was usurped in its entirety into the hands of the triangle formed by Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

This was followed by the paralysis of the Lebanese government and the constitutional institutions after Hezbollah decided to invade Beirut’s center and cripple its economic sector.

Today, Mr. Berri wants to re-launch national dialogue – a move that is blessed by the Syrian president with whom he publicly met in Damascus, and backed by the Iranian ambassador in Lebanon who declared Tehran’s support of the initiative.

The strange thing is that Mr. Berri’s initiative comes at a time when the parliament has been suspended for 17 months! Wouldn’t it have been more useful for the parliament to resume its work so that there could have been internal dialogue, which would have been in its natural place, instead of disrupting constitutional action through an external decision?

Mr. Berri, after preoccupying us with problem of ‘S&S’; Saudi and Syria, has now decided that the solution is strictly Lebanese and one that could be resolved through dialogue that Syria has blessed. And this is Damascus’s plan following the Arab summit.

However, what is striking is that Berri came out of the aforementioned Damascus meeting saying that Lebanon’s absence from the summit has delayed the resolution of the Lebanese situation – instead of talking about the reasons for Lebanon’s absence.

Insiders on the Lebanese issue, most notably Berri, are aware that the problem is far more complicated than the election of a Lebanese president. With the Hariri international tribunal looming closer, matters are becoming even more convoluted in Lebanon and in the region. Lebanon is headed for an earthquake that is bigger than anyone can imagine. There are those who are ready to burn Lebanon – and the region if necessary – to stall the international tribunal.

Speaking about the international tribunal, an insider informed me that that there is an international awareness that the court papers will be drenched in blood. Those concerned with the matter must closely examine the news; Hezbollah is boosting its arms while Hamas is threatening to push things towards Egypt – as though Cairo were the occupier.

Israel, in turn, is making massive maneuvers while Syria has announced that it is carrying out national training to confront “national disasters and others” Meanwhile in Paris, we were surprised by the disappearance of the Syrian witness in the Hariri’s case; the absence of key figures is likely to become a recurrent feature in this coming stage.

There is also an anticipation of the results of the investigation into Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination and it is expected that the results will justify other events that serve Syrian issues.

Given all the above, Nabih Berri’s call for dialogue has no impact since what is taking place away from the table is infinitely more important and influential.

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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