Lebanon: FPM Turns Page on ‘Cold War’ with Amal Movement
Written by Malek   

Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil speaks during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow on November 18, 2015. AFP

By Paul Astih - Asharq Al-Awsat

Beirut- The head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, and Speaker Nabih Berri’s political advisor Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil have been exerting strong efforts for the past months to make a rapprochement between the two parties. Bassil and Khalil have been drafting an “understanding document” to end the “cold war” between the FPM and Amal that has been raging for many years. Among the most powerful signs of differences between the two sides was the rejection of Berri to vote for FPM founder Michel Aoun as president in October last year. Berri, who had backed Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the country’s top post, submitted a blank ballot during the elections. Tense relations between the FPM and Amal had been a source of concern for their common ally “Hezbollah,” which had been working as a “mediator” to soothe tension.

Bassil and Khalil began holding meetings before the presidential elections. But informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that their talks have culminated with an initial agreement on how to manage the country’s affairs and exercise power. The understanding document, which is expected to be announced soon, looks almost similar to the “declaration of intent” made by the FPM and the Lebanese Forces before the presidential elections last year. FPM official and former Minister Mario Aoun told Asharq Al-Awsat that the rapprochement between the two movements is the result of an initiative launched by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. The new understanding will reflect positively on the upcoming parliamentary elections, Aoun said. “Things will become clearer once an agreement is reached on an electoral law.” President Aoun had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Amal’s ally Hezbollah in February 2006. That document kept the FPM-Hezbollah alliance strong until this day. As for the “declaration of intent” announced by Aoun and LF chief Samir Geagea in January 2016, it paved way for the FPM founder’s election as president and ended years of rivalry between the two sides.