Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Lebanon Postpones Elections -
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
Lebanese officials postponed presidential elections for the
fourth time on Tuesday, calling extra army and interior ministry troops
to the capital to guard key roads and government buildings, as the
possibility of terrorist attacks against members of parliament
Some 40 members of parliament remained holed up in a high security wing
of the seaside Phoenicia hotel, to protect them from a suspected Syrian
and Iranian plot to assassinate them.
According to Lebanon’s constitution, parliament must meet to elect a
successor to President Emile Lahoud, whose term ends this Friday.
Failure to do so could mean Lebanon will have two opposing governments,
one led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who constitutionally is
required to assume executive powers, and a second by Lahoud, who has
said he will not relinquish his powers and disputes Siniora’s
The United States has been backing Siniora, while Syria and Iran have
backed Lahoud and would rather postpone the election indefinitely than
accept a strong president.
Lebanon’s political and religious communities were in an uproar today,
as non-stop meetings with foreign emissaries continued.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has flown to Beirut several
times, and was attempting on Tuesday to find a presidential candidate
acceptable to the opposing factions, including the Iranian-backed
The secretary general of the Arab league, former Egyptian Foreign
Minister Amr Moussa, was also in Beirut, and told reporters last night
he was downbeat about reaching an agreement.
“It is not right to despair,” he said after meeting President Lahoud.
“There is still hope, although there are still difficulties.”
Syria and Iran are trying to impose a candidate who will block the
enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions that call for the
disarmament of all militias, the withdrawal of all foreign forces from
Lebanon, and an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible
for the February 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
The United States is supporting those U.N. resolutions, and has sought
to encourage the leaders of the ad hoc Cedars Revolution, also known as
the March 14 coalition, to stand firm and elect a strong president.
Following the 1991 Taef accord, Lebanon’s Christian militias turned in
their weapons, but the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was allowed to expand
its military force, ostensibly as a “resistance” movement against
When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah still refused to
disarm, and last year provoked a bloody war with Israel by kidnapping
Israeli soldiers inside Israel and pounding Israeli cities with Iranian
and Syrian-made rockets.
The Syrians are particularly keen to prevent Lebanon from electing a
president who would support the international tribunal tasked with
investigating the February 2005 murder of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
Sources in Beirut tell Newsmax that United Nations investigators
believe the 2005 assassination plot was hatched “at the highest levels
of the Syrian government.”
The U.S. representative of the Cedars Revolution, Dr. Walid Phares,
called yesterday on the United States to dispatch an aircraft carrier
battle group to the Lebanese coast to deter an attack by Syrian or
Dr. Walid Phares warned that the Cedars Revolution “is on the verge of
a crushing political defeat at the hands of its own politicians,” who
have been incapable of electing a strong anti-terror president.
Lebanese members of parliament “are trying to cut deals with Hezbollah,
Syria, and Iran” to elect a candidate who would soft-pedal the demands
of the Lebanese people and the international community, he said.
Dr. Phares said that the United States should send a carrier battle
group to the eastern Mediterranean that “could balance the weight of
the Iranian Pasdaran and their missiles deployed in Lebanon, so that
Tehran and Damascus aren't the only powers present in that small
Many Lebanese are now placing their hopes in active intervention by
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told Saad Hariri – the son of the
assassinated prime minister — that he would encourage the Syrian and
Iranian governments go back off in their opposition to a new president.
Hariri met with Putin at his datcha outside Moscow on Tuesday. Putin’s
office released a statement after the meeting announcing that Foreign
Minister Lavrov would travel to Damascus to insist on “the need for
holding the presidential elections within the constitutional deadline.”
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