Priorities for Arab Role to Solve the Lebanese Crisis

  • 13 May 2008

Undoubtedly, Arab countries are capable of and should play a much needed effective role in finding a solution to the Lebanese problem. This crisis, which has dangerously escalated since Wednesday, threatens to blow up Lebanon and could spill over Lebanese borders (God forbid) to dangerously impact the whole Arab region and the Middle East. Arab countries can play an important role in resolving the crisis as some of them exert a strong influence inside Lebanon through various channels.
Arab countries took an important step when they spontaneously held a meeting of their Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the head office of the Arab League in Cairo last Sunday to examine this crisis. The delay of Arabs in intervening at a suitable time has already led to dangerous consequences. The outcome of the meeting was the establishment of a high-level ministerial committee led by Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs. The committee constitutes members of the UAE, Yemen, Algeria, Sultanate of Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco and Djibouti and provides an important opportunity for addressing this crisis. This time, Arabs did not limit themselves to the usual issuance of a statement calling on Lebanese political forces to execute the “Arab Initiative,” but took an important step through the establishment of this committee and by entrusting it with task of traveling to Beirut in order to mediate among Lebanese parties as the Arab initiative that has been unable to make breakthrough thus far is in needs of explanation, activation and implementation.

If properly implemented, this Arab movement would undoubtedly lead to a positive outcome and ensure the solution of the crisis as well as an end to present tensions among various political parties on the Lebanese scene. It could help in reducing levels of violence and would lead to calls by political leaders of both camps for a return to national dialogue after the  intensity of armed conflict subsides. In addition, this initiative is based on a real and extant agreement, in the form of the “Arab Initiative”. In this way, several opportunities are present for successfully resolving the crisis this time and it is important that the committee wins the confidence of all parties by adopting a neutral behavior.

Despite the importance of the Arab initiative, it is also important that various Lebanese political parties and forces respond positively to it because in the absence of such a response no external party will be able to solve the crisis. In reality, forces that are aware of the dangers posed by the crisis would scuttle the opportunity provided by this initiative. This fact necessitates compromise on both sides for reaching a solution in order to satisfy all sides because the solution to the crises cannot be reached if one side imposes its will and its agenda on the other party.