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      Lebanon: Jumblatt to Leave Anti-Syrian Alliance

      Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has announced his party's withdrawal from the March 14 anti-Syrian alliance.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 8/3/2009, 5:40 PM

      Flash 90

      Lebanese Druze political leader Walid Jumblatt made waves this week when he announced his party's withdrawal from the majority anti-Syrian coalition known as the “March 14” alliance. “Our alliance with March 14 forces was driven by necessity and must not continue,” he said.

      The March 14 alliance is the coalition of Sunni, Christian and Druze parties that allied against the pro-Syrian parties led by Hizbullah. The coalition, currently the majority in Lebanon, is led by Saad el-Hariri.

      Jumblatt has shown increasing discomfort with the coalition's opposition to Syrian influence in Lebanon and to Hizbullah. His followers battled Hizbullah supporters during violent clashes last summer, but this year, he called for Hizbullah to be invited into the government. In June, he met with Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah to discuss Lebanese unity and reconciliation.

      According to reports in Lebanese and other Arab media, Jumblatt may be traveling to Damascus as early as this week to meet with Syrian leaders.

      In an interview with the UAE-based paper The National, Jumblatt explained his decision to leave the coalition as a step away from sectarian politics and towards his party's pan-Arab, anti-Israel and anti-Western roots. “The 2009 parliamentary elections resulted in sectarian alliances that should be eliminated,” he said.

      Jumblatt said he plans to work on repairing his relationship with Syria. “Looking back, I think I committed the sin of voicing too many anti-Syrian slogans,” he explained.