Lebanon's pro-Syrian prime minister said Tuesday he would resign, unable to put together a government, and the head of military intelligence stepped aside in new signs the anti-Syrian opposition was gaining momentum in the country's political turmoil.
Prime Minister Omar Karami's decision comes amid a deadlock over forming the government, which must be completed before parliamentary elections can be held. Elections are scheduled for April and May, and the opposition - which is expected to win them - is eager to see them held on time.
It was unclear whether the resignation would end to the standoff.
It could delay the ballot because it means the process of finding a leader for the government must start again from scratch. But it could also be a signal that the pro-Syrian leadership is ready to bend to opposition demands, which would clear the way for the quick formation of a new cabinet and the organizing of elections.
Read the whole thing here.Is it another delaying tactic, or is the ice finally breaking? Time will tell.
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria said for the first time on Tuesday that it would withdraw all its military and intelligence forces from Lebanon before elections due to be held there in May.
Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara made the pledge in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan dated Tuesday.
The letter said that longtime close cooperation between Syria and Lebanon had enabled Syria to decrease its troop levels to 10,000 from 40,000, "coupled with the full withdrawal of these troops before the forthcoming elections in Lebanon."
I don't want to get my hopes too high -- things could fall apart catastrophically at any time, but this is certainly encouraging.
Read it here.