What Are Damascus Summit Envoys Doing in Beirut?

Is it a new initiative or a continuation of the “dead” Saudi-Syrian initiative?

The question was raised on Wednesday one day after Qatari and Turkish Foreign Ministers Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani and Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Beirut where they met with the three Presidents as well as Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

The Qatari and Turkish top diplomats came to Beirut in a continuation for Monday’s Damascus summit, which joined Turkey’s Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The three leaders expressed their commitment to a solution to the Lebanese crisis based on Syrian-Saudi good offices.

Yet, in a surprising development Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country has abandoned mediation efforts in Lebanon, describing the situation there as dangerous.

But Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s circles responded on Wednesday to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s recent statements on Lebanon by saying that the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers headed to Lebanon for consultations with “full Saudi Arabian blessings.”

Former Minister Abdul Rahim Mrad told Al-Manar website that the Saudi-Syrian initiative has seen its end one week ago, ahead of the collapse of the government due to the resignation of more than one third of its members.

“Now, there’s nothing called Syrian-Saudi initiative,” Mrad said. “The Saudi King has said that the efforts were suspended. His Foreign Minister confirmed in turn that Saudi has abandoned the efforts and went on to hail the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.”

But what are the Qatari and Turkish envoys doing in Lebanon?

According to the former minister, the Qatari-Turkish initiative represents the “good will” of the Qatari and Turkish leaderships. However, he ruled out the possibility to witness any positive outcome for this new initiative. “They came to see if there was an opportunity to propose some solutions,” he said.

Mrad stressed, meanwhile, a series of non-negotiable principles for any solution to take place. “First of all, any solution must respect the new balance announced by Sayyed Nasrallah, meaning that the pre-indictment phase is very different than the post-indictment phase. Second, it should be known that Saad Hariri can’t return to premiership. Third, it’s impossible for us to accept, not only, the indictment but also the tribunal itself.”

“We have negotiated a lot since 2007,” he said. “It’s unacceptable for us to repeat the same mistakes,” he concluded.

For his part, former MP Nasser Qandil told Al-Manar website that the basis of any understanding remains the Saudi-Syrian balance. However, he stressed the conditions of any understanding have completely changed after the STL Prosecutor has submitted the final indictment.

Qandil warned against what he called an attempt to explode the settlement plot. “They want the indictment to be announced first and the settlement to take place later on. This is what the opposition would not accept at any price.”

Qandil enumerated a series of non-negotiable conditions:
– the opposition won’t accept the return of Saad Hariri at the head of a so-called national-unity government;
– the opposition won’t accept to ignore the false witnesses issue;
– the opposition won’t accept to neglect the financial file.

Whether a new initiative has started or not, one thing seems to be certain: what was accepted before Monday is not accepted anymore…


One comment

  1. Wahyu

    It’s an interadestading conadcept that Arabs are helpading fight orgaadniadzaadtions like Hezboladlah and Hamas. I was curiadous about the fact that the Lebanese miladiadtary did not react when Israel attacked Lebanon. What occrus to me is that maybe the Lebanese govadernadment itself wanted Hezboladlah gone more than Israel does.

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