Eleven cabinet ministers, all Hezbollah, have resigned from the Lebanese government as Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with Hillary Clinton in the U.S. today. A U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of Hariri’s father, Rafik Hariri in 2005, the prime minister at the time, is expected to indict Hezbollah members. Don’t miss the Christian Science Monitor’s take on the resignations below the initial details below.
Hezbollah cabinet minister, Mohammed Fneish, said to ask “Mrs. Clinton why the talks collapsed. Read that at the CS Monitor link below. Hezbollah is blaming the U.S. for Rafik Hariri’s death.
…While the Bush administration wholeheartedly backed Mr. Hariri and his allies then, President Obama has not pledged the same kind of support. Syria, whose influence was waning in 2005, has re-emerged in Lebanon, and even its detractors here have sought some kind of relationship with it. Most Lebanese also vividly recall the speed at which Hezbollah and its allies vanquished their foes in just a few days of street fighting in Beirut in May 2008.
The resignation of the eleventh cabinet member, tolled the bell for government collapse.
The prospect of the government’s collapse sent a wave of anxiety through Lebanon, which has seen only brief periods of calm since Rafik Hariri’s killing and has often found itself perched between the competing agendas of Hezbollah allies _– Iran and Syria — and Mr. Hariri’s supporters, in particular the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The STL mention below is the U.N.’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon. From Christian Science Monitor:
A source told the Daily Star that Hezbollah and its allies sought the emergency cabinet meeting “to stop payment of Lebanon’s share toward the financing of the S.T.L., withdraw the Lebanese judges from the tribunal, end Lebanon’s cooperation with the S.T.L., and prosecute the ‘false witnesses’ linked to the U.N. probe into Rafik Hariri’s killing…” They warned that failure to hold the meeting would result in the mass resignations of its cabinet members, bringing down the government.
I’ll have more as this story develops, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s and Prime Minister Hariri’s statements.