This is from wiredispatch. This may help defuse the situation and avoid civil war. No doubt the U.S. will not be pleased by this turn of events. It is possible that the U.S. had a hand in encouraging the original decisions. Although the army is supposedly neutral they seem to manage to make deals with Hezbollah from time to time.
Lebanese Cabinet reverses anti-Hezbollah decisions
Lebanon's pro-Western Cabinet rescinds decisions against Hezbollah that triggered violence
KATARINA KRATOVACAP News
May 14, 2008 17:16 EST
The U.S.-backed Cabinet on Wednesday reversed measures against the militant Hezbollah movement that set off Lebanon's worst violence since the 1975-90 civil war.
The decision was a major victory for the Iranian-allied Hezbollah and the latest sign that the Shiite militant group appeared to have gained the upper hand in the country's political power struggle after its fighters routed supporters of the government.
Seconds after the announcement, celebratory gunfire erupted south of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, but there was no immediate response from the movement's leaders to the government's decision.
Clashes between government supporters and opponents broke out last week after the Cabinet challenged Hezbollah with decisions to sack the airport security chief for alleged ties to the group and to declare the militants' private telephone network illegal.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that amounted to a declaration of war and sent his armed fighters to the streets for the first time since the civil war ended, demanding the government rescind its orders.
Fierce street battles, many of them along sectarian lines, erupted and Hezbollah and its Shiite allies seized much of Muslim west Beirut by force. At least 54 people were killed.
Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said the government made a "courageous" decision to revoke the measures "in view of the higher national interest."
Aridi said the government hoped the decision would "pave the way for a new stage" in which the country would "manage to put sectarian strife behind us and concentrate on Lebanese national unity."
He said the government hoped for a settlement in the crisis with the Hezbollah-led opposition that has paralyzed Lebanon for 18 months.
The opposition quit the Cabinet in November 2007 demanding more power and a veto over all government decisions. The deadlock has prevented parliament from electing a new president, leaving the country without a head of state for six months.
A cease-fire largely halted fighting Monday and no clashes were reported Wednesday. But tensions lingered after Hezbollah's display of its military might last week.
The Bush administration said Wednesday it wants to speed up U.S. aid for Lebanon's army because of the recent fighting.
Acting chief of U.S. Central Command, Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, met Wednesday with Lebanon's army commander and defense minister in a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. He said the meeting "focused on the continued assistance" to the Lebanese military.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the administration plans to ask Congress to quickly approve military aid for Lebanon that was already in the works. He would not say how much the administration sought or what the money would buy. But previous military grants have gone to buy ammunition, armored vehicles and other combat gear.
Bush has said he wants to beef up the Lebanese army, but he also expressed disappointment in the military's performance during the recent violence. The army did not intervene as Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the U.S., overran Beirut neighborhoods.
The Lebanese military feared that if it got involved in the fighting, it could split along sectarian lines as happened in the civil war.
The Cabinet's reversal came after a day of mediation by an Arab League delegation in Beirut. The delegation, with senior ministers of nine countries, met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aligned with the opposition, and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
Arab heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which back the Saniora government, were not represented in the delegation, nor was Syria, which supports Hezbollah. The three countries were considered too close to the opposing factions.
Lebanon's strife has touched off a wider regional standoff between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned Iran that its support for Hezbollah's "coup" in Beirut will damage Tehran's relations with Muslim and Arab countries. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retorted that Iran is the only country that does not interfere in Lebanon's affairs.
Syria, which has been accused by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Lebanon's governing coalition of obstructing parliament's election of a president, said it supported Arab efforts to resolve the crisis.
Associated Press writer Zeina Karam contributed to this report.
Source: AP News