Tank in Beirut 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
BEIRUT — Lebanese troops tightened security around the prime minister's office and other government buildings Thursday as a political crisis deepened over a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister.
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A senior security official confirmed to The Associated Press that the security measures in and around Beirut stem from "concerns of movements on the ground by some parties." The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Special police forces were seen hauling cement barriers around the
government house in Beirut and putting up reinforcements around
government buildings and banks. Tanks deployed in many areas of the
The new measures follow the departure from Beirut of Qatari and Turkish
mediators after two days of talks that apparently failed to resolve the
differences between Lebanon's main rival factions and bring them back
together in a coalition government.
Syria and Saudi Arabia — who back rival camps in Lebanon — had for
months been trying to find a settlement to the crisis. When those
efforts failed, ministers of Hizbullah and their allies pulled out of
the unity Cabinet, toppling the government.Lebanese
Druse leader Walid Jumblatt on Thursday said he is under great pressure
not to name caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri as the government's
next premier despite earlier statements of support for him, Lebanese
paper an-Nahar reported.
He told members of his party that
insisting on Hariri as the country's new prime minister would lead to
"catastrophic consequences" for the security of the Druse party,
himself, and the Druse population in Hizbullah-controlled areas. He
added that things "have become greater than him and his ability to
maintain the middle ground in a harsh battle in which Hariri's regional
and international backers only resort to statements, while his opponents
(Hizbullah) turn to all manners of military and popular pressure,"
according to the report.
Jumblatt said that he is under pressure to name former Lebanese prime minister Omar Karami in place of Hariri.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia said it was abandoning efforts to mediate,
dealing a setback to American diplomacy in the region and raising
concerns in Lebanon the crisis was headed for a confrontation.
Qatar and Turkey tried to pick up on the Saudi and Syrian initiative.
But two days of meetings by their foreign ministers with rival Lebanese
politicians appeared to have failed to produce a deal.
A statement issued by the two before they left Beirut Thursday said they would consult with their leadership.
The statement, published in the state-run National News Agency, said
they had formulated in Beirut a paper that takes into consideration "the
political and legal requirements to solve the current crisis in
"But because of some reservations, they decided to stop their efforts in
Lebanon at this time and leave Beirut to consult with their
leadership," the statement added.