Lebanon: AL delegation holds talks as 40 army officers wish to quit
An Arab League delegation on Wednesday arrived in Beirut in order to mediate between rival factions in Lebanon. Delegation members opened talks the Lebanese capital after several days of armed clashed between Lebanon's government supporters and the Hizbullah-led opposition. "The Arab League mission opens a window for a solution," a senior Lebanese political source said.
Lebanon's Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is close to the opposition, called the mission the "last chance for compromise or chaos."
The Arab League delegation is headed by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, and Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League. It also includes the foreign ministers of Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Top of the agenda will be efforts to end protests by Hizbullah followers and their allies that has led to the shutdown of a number of major roads in Lebanon, including the highway to the airport. According to press reports, the eastern path leading to Beirut airport has been opened for the Arab delegation. No commercial flights have been scheduled from the country's only international airport for the seventh straight day, an airport official said.
Sources said that if the delegation succeeds in easing tensions, the rival leaders will be invited to Qatar for talks aimed at resolving Lebanon's protracted political conflict.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese army continued to patrol throughout the country on Wednesday with orders to use force to restore security if necessary, security officials said. Sources said calm prevailed over Lebanon on Wednesday. Other reports claimed that the Lebanese army's deputy chief intelligence Brig. Gen. Ghassan Balaa and some 40 officers loyal to the government have submitted their resignation in protest of "the way the military handled the latest violence in Lebanon." They said army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, however, has rejected their resignation after summoning some of them.