Qatar's Emir visits south Lebanon
The Emir of Qatar today made a visit to south Lebanon, a Hizbollah stronghold destroyed in the 2006 war with Israel whose reconstruction efforts are partially financed by the Gulf state. "Lebanon is still facing many challenges, primarily the choice of its citizens to maintain the nationalism and Arabism of Lebanon," said Emir Hamid bin Khalifa al Thani. Lebanon is "a nation that is home to people of all confessions, both Muslim and Christian," the Emir noted in the town of Bint Jbeil, which witnessed some of the fiercest fighting in the deadly war between Israel and Hizbollah.
Accompanied by the Lebanese president Michel Sleiman, the prime minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri, the Emir was greeted by Hizbollah officials in southern Lebanon, a stronghold of the Shiite militant party. Sheikh Hamid arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit yesterday, the same day that Syria's president Bashar al Assad and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah made an unprecedented joint visit aimed at defusing political tensions.
Fears of renewed conflict in Lebanon rose in July after Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah revealed he knew the UN tribunal probing ex-premier Rafiq Hariri's murder was poised to indict members of his party, which is backed by Syria and Iran. In May 2008, a government bid to curb Hizbollah's power brought Lebanon close to a new civil war when a week of sectarian clashes killed more than 100 people as opposition militants led by Hizbollah seized large swathes of Sunni areas in Beirut.
Qatar, which had pledged massive aid to help rebuild the south after Israel's devastating war with Hizbollah, also played a key role in ending the 2008 crisis, brokering a deal for the formation of a national unity government. * AFP
Updated: July 31, 2010 04:00 AM