“… Prime Minister Najib Mikati is struggling to keep Lebanon out of the fray through a policy he calls “dissociation.” Though Mikati was seen as a strong Assad backer when he became prime minister last year, he has surprised Americans and even Israelis with his relative independence from both Syria and its patron, Iran.To make dissociation work, Mikati has pulled back not simply from Assad but also somewhat from Hezbollah, the Shiite militia that is Assad’s key ally in Lebanon. It’s a tricky move, since Mikati heads a government dominated by Hezbollah. But he knows that as prime minister, he must represent the Sunni community, which traditionally holds this post under Lebanon’s religious power-sharing system.
Mikati’s first step away from Syria and Hezbollah was a decision last November to fund the U.N. special tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri….
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A second surprise for U.S. officials was Mikati’s willingness to stiff Iran last month. Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi had traveled to Beirut with a 105-member delegation to complete agreements implementing several dozen protocols on trade and other issues. But Mikati didn’t sign the package, leaving his economics minister to endorse several smaller measures. The Iranian visitor was said to be furious, while State Department officials were delighted….”