Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Musa Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is the Doha agreement a breathing space or a solution?

[Musa] The Doha agreement is considered to be the principal first step toward solution, and to rebuild the state, the president, the government, and the parliament, on a basis of consensus, and on the principle that there are no winners or losers. I trust this agreement. It is not merely a breathing space or a truce. I hope that all sides will work to secure its implementation in order to achieve stability in Lebanon. Generally speaking, when the president is elected, a government is formed, and an electoral law is agreed, all problems will be solved in the light of the results of the upcoming elections. Moreover, the Lebanese economy will be rebuilt whether through Paris 3 and the donor countries honoring their pledges, or through opening the doors for tourism and commerce, which currently is indeed taking place. Thus constitutional and political life will be restored to normal as we hope. According to the Arab initiative, the economic life will improve, and hence Lebanon will be restored to its secure and stable position.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see the statement of Walid Junblatt in which he speaks of apprehensions, which he expressed by using your phrase, “the devil is in the details?”

[Musa] There is a permanent apprehension because of the troubled situation to which the region is exposed and this is reflected on Lebanon. When this troubled situation is reflected on a weak Lebanon the impact is negative and bad; however, when it will reflect on a stable and strong Lebanon, the Lebanese political arena will be able to absorb many of the surrounding tensions in the region.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you not afraid of infiltrations to abort the Doha agreement?

[Musa] We can say that the health of Lebanon will have an impact on preserving its interests and balance within the framework of the strong and severe changes and polarizations within the Middle East region.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Can you not foresee any problems or difficulties the might face Lebanon after the Doha agreement?

[Musa] I do not rule out difficulties. Also there are the apprehensions that brother Walid Junblatt mentions about the devil in the details. However, I consider that what can help in solving the problems is the fact that personal relations have been established for dialog among all the powers in order to resolve any dispute through fast communication between them; this will deal with many disputes and details without a need for mediators.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] General Michel Suleiman has said that he cannot rescue Lebanon on his own?

[Musa] Of course, because rescuing Lebanon has become the responsibility of all the Lebanese, and of all the political tendencies within Lebanon, which constitute the national unity government; and it will become the responsibility of the president and the national unity government, which includes all the Lebanese powers.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Who will form the government, and do you fear a dispute over chairing it?

[Musa] The head of government, as Chamber of Deputies Speaker Nabih Birri said, will be decided through dialog among the majority, and will be commissioned by President Michel Suleiman to form the government according to the Doha agreement.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the relationship between the state and the organizations, and the weapons of Hezbollah?

[Musa] We will see later how the situation will be after the implementation of the priorities agreed in Doha. I hope that all the consequences will be positive in this respect.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why should not Hezbollah’s weapons be included in the weapons of the Lebanese State?

[Musa] I do not want to discuss this issue now.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see what Washington said about supporting the Lebanese Army?

[Musa] All this is mere statements, and there are many of these. I imagine that the support of the Lebanese Army ought to be at the request of the Lebanese Government and with the cooperation of the Arab countries.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is there a new initiative by the Arab League to contribute to the second stage in Lebanon?

[Musa] The second stage in Lebanon is Lebanese with regard to reconstruction, in addition to the dossier of the Syrian-Lebanese relations, on which we should work.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the election of the Lebanese president have a positive impact on the Arab-Syrian relations, especially with Saudi Arabia and Egypt?

[Musa] I believe that the election of the Lebanese president is an important helping factor within this context.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the nature of the role you will undertake in improving the relations between Syria and Lebanon?

[Musa] I will pursue the implementation of the Arab summit resolution, and I believe that a number of Arab countries will contribute with me.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the work be within the framework of the Arab ministerial committee?

[Musa] It is possible. This will be decided at the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers that will be held in two weeks’ time to consider the Palestinian situation after Bush’s visit to the region. There will be some kind of interconnection.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your assessment of the stance of US President George Bush toward the peace process?

[Musa] I was surprised that he visited the region without achieving any progress, and without implementing his official pledge to establish two states (Palestinian and Israeli states) that live side by side. This was a very important opportunity that has achieved nothing, and imposes question marks: Until when? Where is the solution? Where are the efforts about which he talks on every occasion? Where is the progress? I consider that US President George Bush had an opportunity to change the US image, but it was not utilized; on the contrary it led to a great deal of upset and question marks. Everybody wonders: Where are the results of the Annapolis conference? Where is the pledge to establish the State of Palestine? Why do we waste all opportunities and situations without exploiting them at all unless there is a US retreat from peace?

[Asharq Al-Awsat] If the US retreat it clear, what is the Arab option?

[Musa] We will decide this when we meet at the Arab foreign ministers conference.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the Arab League play a role in the Palestinian-Palestinian dialog?

[Musa] Now there are many voices that call for a role for the Arab League in all dossiers, and to continue with the same momentum in dealing with a number of other problems at the forefront of which are a number of Palestinian issues, the dialog between the factions, the calming down, and reaching a unified Palestinian political stance.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Has Khalid Mishal asked you for a dialog between the Palestinian factions similar to the solution in Lebanon?

[Musa] Brother Khalid Mishal talked to me the day before yesterday, first to express congratulations for the solution in Lebanon, and then to express his readiness for a process of the same kind that would put an end to the conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is the Arab League coordination with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to build on what took place in the Mecca and Cairo agreements?

[Musa] Certainly there will be a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to decide this, consultations with President Abu-Mazen, and a preparation of the situation so that we move according to a collective Arab basis, as we did in Qatar. It is a collective Arab basis that stems from the Arab League, and under the umbrella of the league and its political and technical apparatus.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Israel does not respond to the calming down efforts. Will Israel agree to peace?

[Musa] Israel does not want peace.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is Israel evading peace through the negotiations with Syria?

[Musa] There is no competition between the tracks. The issue is that the liberation of the occupied Golan is equally important to the establishment of the State of Palestine.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What kind of Arab support is given to the role played by Turkey for the resumption of the negotiations between Syria and Israel?

[Musa] First of all, I salute the Turkish efforts, and we will follow them up. I believe that the Turkish attempt is serious; however, if Israel is as serious as it shows on the Palestinian track, do not expect anything.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the results of the meeting of the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum?

[Musa] The meeting that was held in Bahrain was a good opportunity. I had talks with the Chinese foreign minister about the Arab-Chinese relations. This is the role of the league, which is concerned with all Arab interests, protects them, and maximizes them. The relations with China are important, because it is an ascending economic power, and also a political power. We signed a cooperation program until 2010.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] On the other hand, what about the US-Arab dialog?

[Musa] We have to correct and lay down the frameworks of cooperation, the same as we are doing with China. The dialog with China has been established on consent and acceptance by both sides; therefore, we have to ensure this with the United States, and to ensure the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] There is cooperation through the Arab League between the Arabs and the Latin American countries. Can the same program be established with the US Administration?

[Musa] An Arab-US conference was held in the beginning of last May; I was in Washington, but I had to cut short my visit because of the crisis in Lebanon. I consider that there are many frameworks for working with the United States, and these frameworks ought to be activated, especially that there is an incoming change in the US Administration. This is being studied in order to establish a future style for dialog with the United States.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the inflamed Sudan?

[Musa] I am satisfied with the ceasefire in Abye, and now in Darfur we need a solution that will contain all these issues. Extreme attention should be paid to the relations between the north and the south within the framework of the Nivasha peace agreement. I will visit Sudan soon.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why is the mechanism of the Arab Peace and Security Council not utilized in solving the Arab problems?

[Musa] God forbid, had we failed in Lebanon, it would have been obligatory to activate the Arab Peace and Security Council. After the movement in the Lebanese issue, we now have all the required mechanisms.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is this on the cards with regard to Somalia?

[Musa] It is on the cards. We are very interested in the issue of Somalia. There is an Arab mission and delegation, consisting of the Arab League ambassador to Nairobi, the Arab League ambassador to Somalia, and the director of the Arab League African Department; the delegation has conducted talks with the government. It has been decided to go to Djibouti in order to resume the dialog with all the Somali powers. I consider that Somalia needs more attention, and the Arab league is interested in all Arab problems equally. If the Somalis agree to reconciliation, I will participate in this.