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Lebanon government set to collapse over Hariri tribunal

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A source told the Daily Star that Hezbollah and its allies sought the emergency cabinet meeting "to stop payment of Lebanon’s share toward the financing of the S.T.L., withdraw the Lebanese judges from the tribunal, end Lebanon’s cooperation with the S.T.L., and prosecute the 'false witnesses' linked to the U.N. probe into Rafik Hariri’s killing..." They warned that failure to hold the meeting would result in the mass resignations of its cabinet members, bringing down the government.

Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University in Beirut, says that it is unlikely that Hezbollah will respond to the political crisis by sending gunmen into the streets of Beirut as it did in May 2008, Reuters reports. But Mr. Khashan says that street protests are a possibility. "The phenomenon of food riots is spreading in the Arab world, so the opposition may shield itself behind popular demands for combating inflation," he said.

The resignations come after a last-ditch effort by Saudi Arabia and Syria, who represent the opposing Lebanese factions, failed to bring about a compromise. Al Jazeera reports that the negotiations between the Saudis and Syrians were thought to be the best chance to avoid political crisis in Lebanon, but that they reached a "dead end" according to Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah ally. Hezbollah laid blame at the feet of the US, Al Jazeera adds.

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