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Terrorism & Security

Lebanon government set to collapse over Hariri tribunal

Hezbollah was expected to pull out of Lebanon's government today over the country's involvement in the Hariri tribunal, which is expected to indict Hezbollah members in the prime minister's 2005 assassination.

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The resignations come after a last-ditch effort by Saudi Arabia and Syria, who represent the opposing Lebanese factions, failed to bring about a compromise. Al Jazeera reports that the negotiations between the Saudis and Syrians were thought to be the best chance to avoid political crisis in Lebanon, but that they reached a "dead end" according to Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah ally. Hezbollah laid blame at the feet of the US, Al Jazeera adds.

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Hezbollah, which has rejected allegations it was involved in the suicide bombing on the Beirut seafront in 2005 that killed Hariri and 22 others, blamed "American intervention and the inability of the other side to overcome American pressure" for the failure to reach a compromise.

When asked why the talks collapsed, Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah cabinet minister, said: "Ask Mrs. Clinton," referring to the US secretary of State.

Prime Minister Hariri, who is in the US and scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama Wednesday, responded to the failure of the Saudi-Syria talks with a pledge to continue to work to maintain the peace in Lebanon, reports the Associated Press. "Despite the developments of the last few hours, we will use all possible means to keep channels open to all the Lebanese to reach solutions that guarantee stability and calm and preserve national unity," he said.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last month that the tribunal is expected to bring three indictments soon in its initial response to the Hariri assassination, but that additional indictments could come. The Monitor adds that while Hezbollah has emerged as the primary suspect in the initial investigation, the plot is "multi-tiered and involved a large network of people," and investigators still consider Syria, which backs Hezbollah, to be a major player in the scheme.


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