BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s political crisis is becoming more complicated and foreign influence over the struggle between the Beirut governing coalition and Hezbollah-led opposition is unprecedented, a mediator has said.
In comments published on Wednesday, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa called for renewed Arab and regional efforts to end the standoff between the rival sides, whose power struggle is Lebanon’s worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Lebanon has been without a president for three months and the two sides are at odds over how to share seats in a new cabinet.
Moussa brokered two days of talks this week but failed to make progress towards resolving a conflict that continues to poison Arab ties ahead of an Arab summit in Syria next month.
The governing coalition is backed by foreign powers including the United States and its Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The opposition is supported by Syria and Iran.
As-Safir quoted Moussa as describing the size of the problems as “very formidable.” He said problems were becoming more complicated and creating additional problems.
“Foreign influence has become a source of pressure in the Lebanese issue to an unprecedented extent,” he said. He did not say which states he was talking about.
“The Arab League has accomplished what could be accomplished,” he said. “The rest requires new Arab and regional efforts,” As-Safir quoted the former Egyptian foreign minister as saying.
The standoff is at the heart of a diplomatic rift between Syria and Saudi Arabia, whose King Abdullah is unlikely to attend the Arab summit unless the conflict is resolved.
The crisis has led to the worst street violence since Lebanon’s civil war, aggravating old communal tensions between followers of rival sectarian leaders.
It has also created new animosities between Sunni Muslim followers of governing coalition leader Saad al-Hariri and Shi’ite Muslim supporters of Hezbollah.
Moussa described Lebanon as a microcosm of the Middle East.
“Any splits, if they happen, can spread and threaten the rest of the countries. Therefore it is up to everyone who has a link to the Lebanese situation to sense the danger and bear their responsibilities,” he said.