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Committee of Muslim Scholars suspends mediation

The Committee of Muslims Scholars has been negotiating with militants who took dozens of soldiers and policemen hostage in the Arsal clashes. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT :The Committee of Muslim Scholars announced Friday that it is, in principle, suspending its role as a negotiator over captured security personnel, expressing hopes that other actors would step in to fill its place.

“We suspend our [role as] mediators until better conditions are available,” committee member Sheikh Adnan Amama said to media outlets after a decisive meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

“Our withdrawal will make way for other intermediaries who may have greater pull with respect to the issue,” he said.

“A file of this caliber has many challenges,” Amama added, expressing hopes that “better conditions” would surround the case.

The Committee of Muslim Scholars met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam Friday afternoon.

“If the government sticks by the 'no-compromise' policy during the meeting, then the door to negotiations would be closed,” Amama said prior to the meeting.

The Committee of Muslim Scholars had previously cited rumors that Qatar or Turkey might be brought in as foreign intermediaries.

However, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in remarks published Thursday that Lebanon was working to free the kidnapped soldiers and policemen without the help of any foreign mediator. Last year, Qatar, with mediation from General Security head Abbas Ibrahim, played a crucial role in the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims taken hostage by rebel groups in Syria.

The 4 p.m. meeting in the Grand Serail which had been billed as lasting no more than 30 minutes, in the end lasted close to two hours.

Amama said the scholars were waiting for Lebanon’s official response to demands put forward by militants from the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) to free 29 Lebanese soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces who were seized during clashes in the border town of Arsal in early August.

The prime minister’s office said that it would not disclose any information concerning the meeting, continuing the government's information blackout over the negociations.

In addition to Amana, the delegation from the Committee of Muslim Scholars includes Ahmad al- Kurdi, Samih Ezzedine, Ghayth al-Solh and Ibrahim Beydoun.

With regards to the release of Roumieh prisoners that are allegedly included in the demands, Amama said that they had “yet to reach the stage of listing exact names.”

“There is a general demand for releasing Syrians placed under injustice,” he said, emphasizing that speculation over the identities of the exact suspects is still “premature.”

The committee member said the government had already carried out humanitarian demands, such as the delivery of aid and the treatment of refugees wounded during clashes.

The committee was earlier reportedly weighing the option of withdrawing from its role as intermediary after Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that the government would not make “compromises” with the militants and after rumors circulated that external actors would step in.

Unconfirmed sources from the Central News Agency have alleged that the Nusra Front would release a video of the eleven Army captives in the next few hours.

The video was said to contain vital information that may change the direction of the case.

The CNA reported that the suspension of mediations resulted from the emergence of new complications, saying that the involvement of international actors in mediation efforts was likely behind the suspension.

The suspension of the Committee of Muslim Scholar’s role also came after militants altered certain demands and amplified others, the CNA reported.

 

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Summary

BEIRUT :The Committee of Muslim Scholars announced Friday that it is, in principle, suspending its role as a negotiator over captured security personnel, expressing hopes that other actors would step in to fill its place.

The Committee of Muslim Scholars met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam Friday afternoon.

The Committee of Muslim Scholars had previously cited rumors that Qatar or Turkey might be brought in as foreign intermediaries.

The suspension of the Committee of Muslim Scholar's role also came after militants altered certain demands and amplified others, the CNA reported.


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