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Hezbollah Departs Lebanese Government

Obama and PM meet; Israel’s northern border could turn chaotic

Marc Tracy
January 12, 2011
President Obama and Prime Minister Hariri, today.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Obama and Prime Minister Hariri, today.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Eleven Lebanese ministers (out of 30)—nearly all from or allied with Hezbollah—quit the government, effectively collapsing it. The impetus was the impending results of the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; the tribunal is expected to indict members of Hezbollah and/or Syrian officials.

The current Lebanese prime minister just happened to be in Washington, D.C., today; he also just happens to be Rafik Hariri’s son, Saad. Hariri and President Obama met at the White House before Saad headed back to his country. “The efforts by the Hezbollah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to block the government’s ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people,” a White House read-out said. “The President and Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, implementing all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and continuing a wide-ranging and long-term partnership between the United States and Lebanon.”

Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith, who lived in Lebanon for several years, has written extensively about the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon and how it could affect Israel. In June, he reported that a third Israeli-Lebanese war—this one a follow-up to the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah—was a “when, not if” question. In August, he argued that the United States had essentially abandoned Lebanon to Hezbollah—among others, Hariri himself was forced to collude with the group that had a hand in his own father’s death—and that Israel was bearing the brunt of the blame for it.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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