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Lebanese Ministers’ Visit to Damascus Deepens Disputes inside Government

Aug 12

A visit to Damascus planned by ministers affiliated with “Hezbollah”, the AMAL Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), has sparked internal disputes and a wave of opposition, due to its negative effects on the Lebanese arena.

State Minister for the Displaced Affairs, Moueen al-Merhebi said that the visit would not be official but would be made on a personal basis.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “The insistence of some ministers to visit Damascus has caused a major political dispute in the country, forcing Interior Minister Nohad al-Mashnouq to ask to discuss the matter within the government, and put it to vote”.

“The wisdom of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has prompted him to cancel all discussions in this regard, meaning that there would be no government decision to go to Syria,” he added.

The minister stressed that any minister visiting Syria would go there in his personal capacity because he would not be in any way dispatched by the government.

Meanwhile, in a press conference held on Thursday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea underlined the importance of the “policy of dissociation”, which was stipulated in the ministerial statement.

“During the last cabinet meeting, Hariri refused to discuss any item on Syria’s visit, but some ministers confirmed that they were going to there in their official capacity. No, if you go to Syria, you go on a personal, not official, basis, and you would be violating Lebanon’s legitimacy, the cabinet principles and the new political era,” Geagea said, addressing ministers insisting on going to Damascus.

He warned that if anyone went to Syria, Lebanon will be immediately classified in the Iran axis, and therefore “we will lose what remains of our relations with the Arab countries.”

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan (“Hezbollah”) Minister of Agriculture Ghazi Zoaiter (AMAL) and Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khouri (FPM) are due to visit Damascus to participate in an exhibition on Syrian products upon an invitation from the Syrian regime Ministry of Economy.

aawsat