According to As-Safir and al-Akhbar, an agreement has been reached between March 14 and the “opposition”. It is not clear whether the agreement has the consensus of all parties involved, but it appears that Hariri, Jumblatt and Hizbullah, and the Qatari backers, have given their approval.
According to as-Safir, Berri will call parliament into session in 48 hours to elect Suleiman. The agreement stipulates a 3-11-16 composition of the new "national unity" cabinet, with 16 going to the parliament’s majority, 11 to the "opposition" and 3 to the president. The majority will still hold the right to name the premiere, according to as-Safir, although Siniora’s chances of returning are slim, considering that he was pretty much left on the cutting room floor during the making of this episode.
The bottleneck, the electoral law, will be largely based on the 1960 law, with one exception: Beirut, which will be divided into three districts reportedly guaranteeing a chance for Hariri to win a majority of seats, and Aoun to conveniently use the Armenian vote.
Reportedly, the agreement will include a part about the use of weapons to settle political scores. The president, once elected, will call for dialogue to define the relationship between the state and the armed groups.
The prince of Qatar had to intervene personally to force the two parties, and especially the opposition, to pick a solution. According to the pro-March 14 media, the Qataris and the Arab delegation were upset with the opposition for rejecting two proposals, describing them as “non existing” at some point, and going out of their way to sabotage the talks. The opposition was then reportedly given 24 hours to “take it or leave it”.
Regardless, by the time you read this, and if the reports are true and the opposition does not shift the goal posts again, this act of the Lebanese drama will be over.
Samir Geagea, who is probably the least excited about all this, did well to remind everyone earlier tonight that Hizbullah’s weapons are the real issue, and that people like Aoun lie when they claim to defend the Christian vote. Sadly, it was Aoun whose ego the Qatar prince had to massage, not Geagea, and not the Christians of March 14, who appear to have lost again. But that's another story. Let's wait for the full details first.
Update. Suleiman will be "elected" Sunday. As to how an army commander can just waltz into this post without a constitutional amendment, it is not clear, but I am sure they'll figure it out.
Michel Aoun was interviewed by Future TV, and Saad Hariri was photographed kissing Mohamad Raad of Hizbullah.
Hizbullah has started dismantling the tents in downtown Beirut. Solidere stocks are up through the roof. Both Syria and Iran have blessed the agreement.
Speaking of Syria, note the timing of this announcement:
Syria said it was conducting indirect peace talks with Israel through Turkey, confirming an earlier announcement by the Jewish state.
"Syria has started indirect peace talks with Israel under Turkish auspices. Both sides have expressed their desire to conduct the talks in goodwill and decided to continue dialogue with seriousness to achieve comprehensive peace," a foreign ministry statement said.