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Lebanese leaders meet to stem crisis over mountain shoot-out

Lebanese leaders meet to stem crisis over mountain shoot-out

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed optimism about the chances of putting an end to the political crisis that has paralyzed the Cabinet for more than five weeks.

After meeting with President Michel Aoun in the presence of Lebanon’s Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Hariri said: “Solutions are near to fruition and I am more optimistic than before. The meeting was very positive. We must just wait a little and we will be hearing good news soon.”

Maj. Gen. Ibrahim conducted the mediation between the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and the Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP) to find a solution to the crisis caused by a shoot-out between Druze factions in the Chouf Mountains on June 30. He simply said: “The atmosphere is excellent.”

This development, that is expected to end the political impasse in Lebanon, took place one day after the strong statement issued Wednesday by the US Embassy in Beirut, warning against “any attempt to exploit the tragic incident that took place in Kabreshmoun to promote political objectives” and stressing “the need for the Lebanese authorities to handle the case in a way that achieves justice without inciting sectarian and regional conflicts with political backgrounds.”

PM Hariri is expected to visit to the US shortly, where he may meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

While the positive results reached by the Aoun-Hariri meeting remained unknown, an adviser to Hariri, Dr. Ammar Houri, told Arab News that the “atmosphere was positive,” expecting a Cabinet session to be held “soon.”

Lebanese media outlets said the session’s agenda “will not include referring the Kabreshmoun incident to the Judicial Council,” the subject that sparked the inter-Druze clash and then the disagreement between the PSP and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in the first place.

The Hezbollah parliamentary bloc condemned what it considered “any foreign interventions in the internal affairs, whatever their source was, as they do not serve the national interest and do not want to do the country any good.”

“Sparring and fighting cannot lead to a solution nor resolve the problem, and amid the ongoing economic bleeding, we demand to find a solution for the political deadlock.”    

Lebanon’s English-language daily newspaper, the Daily Star, expressed in its Thursday’s issue the impasse of political, economic and social situation in a very stark form.

The front page of the print edition was completely black, with the word “Lebanon” written across the middle in white. The 10 inside pages were bare except for a black strip across the middle bearing the following phrases: Government deadlock; Sectarian rhetoric increasing by the day; Trash continues to pile up in the streets; Pollution at alarming levels; Unemployment rate at 25 percent; Illegal weapons abound in the country; Public debt close to $100 billion; Bankruptcy threatens businesses; and Local currency in jeopardy.

The last page read: “Wake up before it is too late.”

The Daily Star’s Joseph Haboush told AFP: “We wanted to deliver a message to politicians and officials about the dangerous level the situation has reached.”

In October, Lebanon’s most renowned newspaper, Annahar, protested at the deteriorating situation in the country, where contending parties had failed to form a government, and published 11 blank pages.

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