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Bazzi: Can the Latest Violence in Lebanon Accelerate a Political Deal?

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Mohamad Bazzi, Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

December 13, 2007

Mohamad Bazzi, former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday, says the resolution of Lebanon’s political crisis is not being held up by choosing a new president. That has already been accomplished, with the choice of army commander, General Michel Suleiman. The real issue is the desire of the opposition to reach a deal ahead of time on the makeup of the next Lebanese government. He hopes the shock caused by the assassination of General François Hajj, who was to replace Suleiman as army commander, might accelerate a compromise.

Today, there was shock to hear that a car bomb had killed General François Hajj, who was due to take over command of the army from General Michel Suleiman if he, in fact, had become president. Does this assassination make it harder to reach a compromise on a president or has it accelerated resolve?

It should accelerate the chances of reaching a compromise on the presidency, though this being Lebanon, it may not happen as quickly as people might like. The issue is not so much between the March 14th movement [so-called because on that date in 2005, thousands of people demonstrated in Beirut for Syrian troops to leave because the Syrians were seen as responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri], which has the parliamentary majority, and the Hezbollah-led opposition over whether General Suleiman should be the next president. Right now the problem seems to be that the two sides are stalled over mechanics. They are arguing over the exact way they are going to amend the constitution so that General Suleiman can become president.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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