Beirut: After Arab foreign ministers vowed to “defeat terrorism” as they prepared the 27th League Summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott on Monday, Prime Minister Tamam Salam acknowledged that he faced a dilemma over the anticipated final communiqué clause, which observers concluded will label Hezbollah a “terrorist organisation”.
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukri hinted at what may well be included in the text when he declared: “We must defeat terrorism, it’s a priority”, as ministers apparently agreed to support “all [initiatives] that can help to end the crises of the Arab world, especially the Syrian, Libyan and Yemeni conflicts”.
Under the circumstances, Beirut could well face a dilemma, especially if the Arab Summit calls on Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, and end its interferences in Iraq and Yemen.
According to Al Nahar, Salam was ready to “voice reservations over any such resolution without resorting to a confrontational stance”, a clarification that was confirmed by the prime minister on Sunday when Salam told reporters accompanying him to Mauritania that “should the issue of Hezbollah be raised, we will respond by saying that it is one of the country’s main components and that it is represented in the government”.
Beyond this choice, which isolated the country within the region, Lebanon stood apart as Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners not only led the League in condemning Hezbollah, but also secured censures from various coalitions, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which was unprecedented.
It was unclear whether Salam would meet King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and the Egyptian President, Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, both of whom planned to attend the summit, to garner vital support to deal with the fallout of the Syrian civil war on the country.
“We are against the permanent settlement of Syrian refugees and we will clarify every point of contention and difference with the Arab countries,” declared Salam, though the League’s priority was different.
Arab countries focused on terrorism that threatened their security, which was why Lebanese requests for increased support to deal with the repercussions of the Syrian war, as well as the financial burden that nearly 2 million Syrian refugees created, were unlikely to be met.