Sunni extremists freeze accord with Hezbollah

Other News Materials 20 August 2008 03:13 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Sunni Muslim militant groups on Tuesday suspended their unity accord with the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, just 24 hours after it was announced at a press conference in Beirut.

On Monday, Hezbollah signed a memorandum of understanding with Lebanon's Salafist movements, which group Sunni Muslim fundamentalist factions. The deal's stated goal was "to preserve national unity and prevent sedition."

The Salafi groups on Tuesday announced the indefinite freezing of the understanding with Hezbollah.

Sheikh Hassan Shahhal, who signed the understanding Monday with Hezbollah politburo member Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, on Tuesday declared the suspension of the agreement pending "appropriate circumstances that allow its implementation."

Sheikh Hassan made the announcement after a meeting with leaders of Salafi factions presided over by their highest authority Dai al- Islam al-Shahhal, who had rushed to denounce the Hezbollah deal within minutes of the announcement of the accord.

The freeze was announced in the northern town of Tripoli, power base of the Salafi movement.

The Dai, or preacher, on Monday said that the agreement favoured Hezbollah and the Shiite community.

"The Salafi movement totally rejects this document, and who signed it has no right to claim belonging to the Salafi movement or representing it," the ageing Dai al-Islam Shahhal said.

"This document is harmful to the Sunni community and would end up in vain, God willing. Those who signed it have no influence, and whoever wants to defuse tension should talk to forces that do exist."