Leaders of Lebanon’s two most influential parties may soon meet in an attempt to resolve the paralyzing internal political conflict in Lebanon. A delegation of the Syrian-backed Hizbullah party is set to meet today (Wednesday) with leader of the anti-Syrian Future bloc, Sa’ad A-Din Al-Hariri, the Lebanese Daily Star reported.
The meeting was described by the paper as a “preparatory meeting” ahead of a summit between Hizbullah leader Hasan Na’srallah and Al-Hariri by the end of September. If Al-Hariri and Na’srallah meet, analysts are saying it would ease the way toward national reconciliation. The second round of national dialogue is scheduled for November 5.
The first round of talks between rival Lebanese factions began on September 16, under the supervision of President Michel Suleiman. The factions focused on a national defense strategy and on defining the relationship between the state and armed groups such as Hizbullah. Hizbullah and the Future bloc have been locked in a political standoff for 18 months before a deal was struck in May this year. The talks are a component of that agreement, reached with Qatari mediation.
Hizbullah’s arms have been one of the main points of contention between the two sides. The anti-Syria bloc wants to see Hizbullah disarmed, claiming that only the state should have the authority to bear arms and that Hizbullah’s existence as an armed group inside Lebanon undermines the country’s stability and constitutes what they call a state within a state.
Hizbullah maintains its weapons are important for protecting the country against any aggression from Israel. A United Nations resolution reached after the 34-day war with Israel in 2006 called on Hizbullah to disarm, but reports since then suggest that Hizbullah has only been increasing its weapons arsenal.
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