In Surprise Move, Bitter Political Rivals in Lebanon Announce Deal

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Two of Lebanon’s most prominent Christian politicians — one a crucial political ally of Hezbollah, the other its longtime foe — struck a surprise agreement on Monday that could help end the standoff that has left the country without a president for nearly two years.

In Surprise Move, Bitter Political Rivals in Lebanon Announce Deal

In the deal, Samir Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, threw his support behind the presidential candidacy of his lifelong rival, Michel Aoun, whose Free Patriotic Movement is Hezbollah’s main Christian ally in Parliament.

It was a remarkable development even in the context of Lebanon’s constantly churning politics. The two men are bitter adversaries. They have been on opposite sides over the most radioactive issues in Lebanon: Israel and the war in Syria, The New York Times reported.

If the deal sticks, Mr. Geagea’s move could throw the political alignments of the last decade into turmoil and strike a blow at Saad Hariri, the leader of the Future Movement, which is the main political rival of Hezbollah.

Mr. Geagea’s party is the Future Movement’s largest Christian ally in the parliamentary bloc known as March 14.

By siding with Mr. Aoun, long seen as Hezbollah’s candidate, Mr. Geagea is throwing into question the future of March 14 at a volatile time for the bloc.

There was no immediate comment from Mr. Hariri, whose political standing has been under increasing strain. He remains largely in exile.

The deal will not be final until approved by Parliament in the coming weeks, and many obstacles could still arise.

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