Key figure in Lebanon is backing Hezbollah
BEIRUT — A potential kingmaker in Lebanese politics threw his support yesterday behind Hezbollah, a major boost to the Shiite militant group that brought down the country’s Western-backed government last week.
Walid Jumblatt, the influential leader of the Druze sect, refused to say exactly how many lawmakers are with him, but his support is key ahead of parliamentary talks Monday to pick a new prime minister.
The announcement is the latest twist in a political crisis pitting the Syrian-backed Hezbollah against caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who said he will seek the premiership again.
Jumblatt’s decision portends lengthy negotiations between Lebanon’s Western-backed blocs and the Hezbollah led-alliance. If those fail, Lebanon could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence.
Hezbollah, which is also backed by Iran, is Lebanon’s most potent military force.
Lebanon’s crisis stems from a United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Saad’s father. Many fear Hezbollah will react violently if its members are named in the court’s sealed indictment.
Cabinet ministers from Hezbollah and allies withdrew from the government Jan. 12, forcing its collapse after Saad Hariri refused to renounce the tribunal.