Media reports had suggested that Saudi Arabia sought to influence Future Movement leader and Prime Minister Saad Hariri in attempt to breathe life into the coalition during his visit to the Gulf Kingdom last month.
BEIRUT: After weeks of negotiations, an alliance between the two pillars of the now-defunct March 14 coalition – the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Future Movement (FM) – has failed to materialize, according to a LF source.
Media reports had suggested that Saudi Arabia sought to influence Future Movement leader and Prime Minister Saad Hariri in an attempt to breathe life into the coalition during his visit to the Gulf Kingdom earlier this month.
Upon his return to Lebanon, Hariri resumed negotiations with the LF but never abandoned talks that had been underway with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) before his departure to Saudi Arabia.
The FPM, the party founded by President Michel Aoun, is a staunch ally of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional archfoe.
Saudi Arabia was accused of holding Hariri against his will during a visit to the kingdom in November when he submitted his now-withdrawn resignation during a televised address. Hariri has implied on more than one occasion that LF leader Samir Geagea courted Saudi officials to pile pressure on the Lebanese premier to resign and force the government collapse in a bid to deny Hezbollah political cover.
The souring of relations between both leaders is further evident when taking into account the lack of direct communication since Hariri’s return to Lebanon following his two-week ordeal in Saudi Arabia in November.
According to sources, Hariri’s deteriorating relationship with Geagea, also an ally of Saudi Arabia, proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block to a wide scale alliance between both parties.
The once tight-knit allies did manage, however, to set aside their differences in the district of Baalbeck-Hermel in an effort to break up a commanding win by Hezbollah in the predominantly Shiite region.
By joining forces in the Baalbek-Hermel district, the LF and Future Movement will seek to secure at least one seat of the 11 reserved for the district, thus preventing Hezbollah from taking home a resounding victory.
The district of Chouf-Aley will also set the stage for yet another partnership between both parties after a tripartite alliance with the Progressive Socialist Party was brokered by the PSP leader Walid Jumblatt.
Meanwhile, the Future Movement left a vacant seat in the Akkar district for LF candidate Retired Lebanese Army Gen. Wehbe Kattisha.