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December 21, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 3463

Alarabiya.net Editor Criticizes French Role in Lebanese Agreement on Hariri Indictment

December 21, 2010
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 3463

Daoud Al-Shiryan, editor of the Alarabiya.net website, criticized France following a December 7, 2010 report in the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat regarding this country's role in brokering an understanding between the Lebanese March 14 Forces (headed by Al-Mustaqbal) and the March 8 Forces (headed by Hizbullah) regarding the indictment to be issued by the Al-Hariri tribunal. According to the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat report, the understanding obliges the March 14 Forces to refrain from accusing Hizbullah in the assassination and to refrain from making use of the indictment in its political conflict with Hizbullah, including the conflict over Hizbullah's weapons. Hizbullah, for its part, is obliged to refrain from directing its weapons against elements within Lebanon, to let the Lebanese government function normally, and to avoid creating a political crisis.

Shiryan pointed out that the commitment demanded of Hizbullah – to avoid using its weapons inside Lebanon – is nothing new, because Hizbullah has already committed to this in the Doha agreement. Therefore, this would not constitute a serious concession on its part.

Shiryan wondered about France's motivations in brokering such an understanding, and proposed an alternative solution, namely that the tribunal would issue a reduced indictment against Hizbullah, and in return this organization would be obligated to take a meaningful step: to give up its arms and assimilate its fighters into the Lebanese army.

The following are excerpts from Al-Shiryan's article, published on December 8, 2010 in the daily Al-Hayat:

"The French Intend to Reward Damascus and Tehran at Lebanon's Expense"

"The daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported, citing what it called knowledgeable French sources, that during his visit to France [on December 9, 2010], Paris would propose to [Syrian] Prime Minister Bashar Al-Assad a plan for extricating Lebanon from the crisis it is facing over the imminent release of the indictment [by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, expected to implicate Hizbullah in the Al-Hariri assassination]. The proposed French solution is based on a written agreement between both sides [in Lebanon, i.e. Hizbullah and the Al-Mustaqbal faction], to be held as security and made public after the indictment is released.

"The [Al-Sharq Al-Awsat] daily reported that, according to the French [proposal], the Al-Mustaqbal faction would pledge to refrain from linking an indictment against individual Hizbullah operatives... to the organization [as a whole, and] from exploiting the indictment to pressure Hizbullah regarding [its] arms. In exchange, Hizbullah would pledge to refrain from using its arms within [Lebanon,] to allow the government free rein, and to avoid any [action that might] lead to a political crisis.

"If these reports are correct, the French intend to reward Damascus and Tehran at Lebanon's expense. [This document that the] French [are proposing] is nothing new. Hizbullah's false commitment in it will be just like its [false] commitment in the Doha [Agreement]. The Al-Mustaqbal faction is required to pay too steep a price [in order to avert any] possible danger to Hizbullah's future as a result of the indictment. Therefore, one must ask: Is the French initiative part of pressure on Sa'd Al-Hariri, or is it a French attempt to interfere in the Iranian-American crisis by way of Lebanon?..."

Any Feasible Proposal Must Involve Hizbullah's Disarmament

"No one can change the indictment, divert it from its course, interpret it, or evade it, without [paying] the necessary price. What is needed is an initiative that will moderate the tribunal's indictment in exchange for a clear fee, namely Hizbullah's disarmament, the assimilation of its cadre into the [Lebanese] military, and its transformation into a political party. Without a proposal of this caliber, the crisis will only become more complicated, and is likely to exact a high price from all the sides in Lebanon."

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