Worries of Power Vacuum Persist in Lebanon
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned of a political vacuum in Lebanon as opposition members called for the resignation of Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, who they claim is too close to Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah. “There are some who are trying to divert attention from the situation in the region by causing problems in Lebanon,” Ashton said. U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly said she opposes a power vacuum and “is supporting Prime Minister Mikati and his government.” Although Mikati offered to resign, President Michel Suleiman asked him “to stay for a while longer.” The State Department Office of the Spokesperson confirmed an FBI task force is heading to Lebanon to “provide technical assistance to the investigation into the attack that killed Brigadier General Al-Hassan and seven others.” Meanwhile, Lebanon’s military cordoned off streets in Beirut and Tripoli after an official declared it would take “decisive” measures in preventing further violence.
“Lebanese leaders depend on the alliances they make with powerful foreigners,” said Jeremy Bowen. “Inevitably that makes them party to their patrons’ quarrels and wars, too,” he added. In a Stratfor op-ed, the author noted “the October 19 attack could intimidate anti-Assad individuals in Lebanon from becoming more involved in the Syrian conflict.” Meanwhile, a UNHCR statement claimed, “Lebanon has become the third country in the region to see its population of registered Syrian refugees and people waiting for registration (exceed) the 100,000 mark.”