- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2013

The Lebanese government collapsed over the weekend in the latest sign that the crisis in Syria is spreading instability throughout the Levant and the broader Middle East.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati submitted his written resignation to President Michel Suleiman over the weekend, according to local media reports.

Mr. Mikati, a billionaire technocrat who headed a government dominated by the armed Shiite Islamic extremist group Hezbollah and its allies, blamed his resignation on political infighting and rising sectarian tensions.

Mr. Mikati headed the government beginning in June 2011, when Hezbollah, which is one of the largest groups in Lebanon’s fractious parliament, precipitated a political crisis and forced the previous government from office.

Hezbollah, and other Shiites in multiconfessional Lebanon, tend to support Syria’s embattled strongman President Bashar al Assad. Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims and Christians tend to support the Syrian opposition.

Mr. Mikati’s resignation comes amid sporadic fighting in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Mr. Assad. Mr. Mikati’s departure is likely to lead to a period of prolonged parliamentary and political infighting, creating the risk that the conflict in neighboring Syria may spill over into Lebanon, according to analysts.

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