Some experts have warned that regional instability could result in a new Sykes-Picot Agreement, again serving the interests of great powers.
In an effort to thwart what some fear could result in the creating of warring sectarian mini-states, rival Muslim groups in and outside Lebanon have resumed contact.
Regional diplomatic sources told The Daily Star that indirect channels of communication have been reopened between Hezbollah and the Future Movement, in order to head off the Sunni-Shiite strife underscored by events in Syria.
The sources said these contacts began modestly three months ago, with the blessing of Saudi Arabia. Iran has been tolerant of the efforts.
Hezbollah is focusing on two points, the sources said. First, they are interested in Lebanon’s electoral law, and how to achieve consensus on the draft forwarded by Cabinet that Parliament’s joint committees are to continue studying Thursday. The sources said that Hezbollah and Iran want an electoral law that will help reshuffle the balance of power in Lebanon, ensuring that Hezbollah’s position will not be vanquished if the Syrian regime collapses.
The sources said Hezbollah is also pressing to keep the government of PM Najib Mikati in power for the longest possible time period, as it believes this will ensure stability.
But the Future Movement insists on dealing with the issue of Hezbollah’s arms before these two points are discussed, as it believes the weapons could have a significant affect on the 2013 parliamentary elections.
An agenda for the talks has yet to be set, although it has been agreed that meetings will commence with lower level officials, and move up the ranks if they are successful.
Lines of communication have opened between former PM Fouad Siniora, head of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc, and Speaker Nabih Berri. This is meant to facilitate dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, and there are hopes that the negotiations will culminate in discussions between former PM Saad Hariri and Hezbollah’s Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
While sources said Hariri agrees with the principle of the talks, and both Amal Movement head Berri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt are calling on him to return from Paris, a return in the near future is unlikely given concerns about his safety.