Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"US blocking Lebanon reconciliation: Hezbollah chief," AFP, Jan 15, 2007.

Hezbollah supporters have been camped out in the streets of Beirut for a month and a half so far this winter.

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has charged that the United States was blocking efforts to form a national unity government in Lebanon.

"The United States is preventing the formation of a national unity government in Lebanon. This is the core of the crisis," said the chief of the Shiite militant movement in an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa.

"The aim (of the US) is to strengthen the government of (Prime Minister) Fuad Siniora because in reality it is their government. It is the government of the US ambassador in Beirut," Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah-led opposition has been campaigning to topple the Western-backed government of Siniora who has rejected their demands for a national unity government in which they would have veto power.

"The current government ... accepts all demands by the US administration without discussion. Any demand by the United States is approved by the current government within 10 minutes," Nasrallah said.

"That's why I called it the government of (US ambassador Jeffrey) Feltman. Whatever he asks for is given. All Lebanese know that Feltman visits the government headquarters daily or almost daily," he said.

The opposition is demanding a national unity government that should include 10 of their ministers and an eleventh approved by them to be able to block major decisions that require a two-thirds majority in an expanded 30-member cabinet.

The opposition pulled its six ministers out of the 24-member cabinet in November, including all five Shiites, and has been staging a mass sit-in outside the government's offices since December 1.

All mediation efforts between the rival camps have failed to ease the crisis, including a mission by Arab League chief Amr Mussa.

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