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Hizbullah May Resign, Topple Lebanon Unity Gov't

Hizbullah is planning to announce the resignation of 11 allied ministers from the Lebanese national unity Cabinet, thereby toppling the government.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/12/2011, 12:16 PM / Last Update: 1/12/2011, 12:30 PM

Hizbullah is planning to announce the resignation of 11 allied ministers from the Lebanese national unity Cabinet Wednesday, thereby toppling the country's government and setting the stage for the possibiltiy of renewed civil violence north of Israel's border.

The group is demanding an urgent Cabinet meeting to discuss the looming crisis over an impending announcement of indictments by the United Nations Special Tribunal in Lebanon (STL).

The Tribunal is expected to indict a number of Hizbullah terrorists in connection with the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the father of the country's current leader. The terrorist organization, backed by its benefactors Iran and Syria, announced months ago that it would not accept such an outcome.

The move comes as Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Numerous Arabic and international media are reporting the decision came following a declaration by the “March 8 Coalition” that the Saudi-Syrian initiative aimed at resolving the country's long-standing political crisis is “dead.”

Michel Aoun, a key Christian ally of Hizbullah, told reporters Tuesday at a Beirut news conference, “The Saudi-Syrian initiative has ended with no results. Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri has not responded to these efforts and we have now reached an impasse.”

According to Hariri's political adviser Mohammed Shatah, the initiative was aimed at achieving stability by restoring contacts between Lebanese factions, ensuring that state institutions return to serving the public and following up on the issue of Lebanese-Syrian ties.

However, Hariri said during an interview with the Al-Hayat newspaper published Friday that although the Saudi-Syrian agreement was finalized some time ago, Hizbullah and its March 8 allies had not lived up to their end of the deal.

“I have kept silent (about the initiative) for months,” Hariri said. “Now, I have broken silence just because I am responsible and concerned with protecting this process in the interest of the country and its stability.”

Also related to the deal were efforts by Saudi King Abdullah to persuade the Lebanese prime minister during talks in New York to denounce the United Nations' Special Tribunal in Lebanon (STL). Also included in the talks were international players such as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hariri said in a statement released by his Beirut office that he will continue consultations with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and other leaders when he returns to the country. The prime minister, who is in Washington D.C. to meet Wednesday afternoon with President Barack Obama, spoke with Sleiman by telephone.

“Hope is pinned on all brothers and friends to help Lebanon pull through this difficult phase,” he said in the statement. “Hope is also pinned in the first place on the wisdom of the Lebanese and their leaders. We have all sought to avoid being dragged to reactions... because the primary beneficiary from divisions among the Lebanese is the Israeli enemy.”