Global Policy Forum

Hoss Repeats Warning on Chapter 7-Based Tribunal


Rym Ghazal

Daily Star - Lebanon
May 18, 2007

Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss repeated his objections on Thursday to the UN establishing a controversial international court for Lebanon, following a meeting in Damascus with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. The two met to discuss a tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, which the government and international actors, notably the United States, have moved to implement under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Chapter 7 status would allow the court to begin work without the approval of Parliament. "Chapter 7 will cause further divisions and conflict in Lebanon," Hoss told reporters.

On Monday, Premier Fouad Siniora sent the latest in a series of requests asking the UN Security Council for help in creating the court. The world body is expected to take action soon. "The court being created by the UN Security Council infringes on Lebanon's sovereignty," Hoss added. Lebanon's opposition has expressed concern that the court will be used as a political tool.

Coverage of the meeting by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said that Sharaa and Hoss "agreed on the importance of a national accord to boost civil peace and internal security in Lebanon ... in a way that serves interests of Syria and Lebanon." Hoss also met Thursday with Syrian Premier Mohammad Naji Ottri. SANA said their talks focused on the "pressures that dominant international powers are using to interfere in the region's affairs, control its resources and destabilize it." Syrian President Bashar Assad said last week that Damascus would not cooperate with the tribunal if it threatened his country's sovereignty.

As regional talks on the court continued, pro-government figures in Lebanon met to chart their strategy on the court, September's presidential election and other major issues. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh told The Daily Star that the March 14 Forces were drafting a "national plan." "We have the structure set, but we are still working on the content," Hamadeh said. "We might have it done next week, but there is no set date." Siniora met Thursday with parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri, but no statements were made afterward.

In other talks on Thursday, parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri met separately with Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz Khoja and MP Ghassan Tueni. "There will not be a parliamentary session on May 25," Tueni told reporters after the meeting, referring to speculation that Berri would convene Parliament to mark Liberation Day. As for the presidential election, Tueni said there was "no reason" for a two-thirds quorum of MPs not to show up at a planned September 25 voting session. "Everyone should attend, I see no reason for any of the MPs not to show up," he said.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and his wife, MP Strida Geagea, visited Druze leader Walid Jumblatt at his residency in Mukhtara on Wednesday night, where the officials had dinner. No comments were released afterward.

Former President Amin Gemayel called for new initiatives to resolve the impasse. "We are facing now great challenges and threats ... We have yet to establish our true independence and sovereignty," he said after a meeting with representatives from the March 14 camp. "We succeeded on a lot of issues, and now we are about to succeed with the creation of the international court," he added.

Hizbullah officials warned against "US tutelage." The United States is trying to "control" Lebanon, Hizbullah number two Naim Qassem said in a statement. "Lebanon has to prove its independence and withstand US plans for this country and in the region."

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch was in Lebanon this week for a two-day visit to meet a wide spectrum of officials. The United States is planning closer diplomatic cooperation with new French President Nicolas Sarkozy, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said on Wednesday. "Now is the time for us to join forces ever more closely," he said, listing Lebanon, Afghanistan and Haiti as areas of already fruitful Franco-US cooperation.

More Information on International Justice
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