Latest Spat Leaves Qaddafi in the Cold with His Camels ; Lebanese Shia Community Blames Qaddafi for Death of Their Leader, Sadr, in 1978

Article excerpt

The Lebanese are famed for their hospitality. But there is one guest Lebanon's Shia Muslim community is not anxious to welcome anytime soon: Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi.

A long-running dispute between Lebanese Shia Muslims and President Qaddafi threatened to disrupt a meeting of the Arab League which was scheduled to be held here at the end of March.

The 22 member states of the league were expected to discuss the raging conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, terrorism and the UN sanctions against Iraq as well as a host of other topics affecting the stability of the Arab world.

Arguments among Arab countries are routine, a reflection of the region's diversity with member states stretching from Morocco in North Africa to Iraq in the Middle East and including dictatorships, monarchies, and democracies.

The latest spat to bedevil the Arab League revolves around a 23- year-old mystery surrounding the fate of a Lebanese Shia leader, Imam Musa Sadr, who disappeared while on a trip to Libya.

Sadr championed the cause of the dispossessed Shia community, traditionally the most impoverished and under-represented section of Lebanon's multi-faith society. Sadr vanished along with two companions after reportedly arguing with Qaddafi in Libya in 1978.

Imam Musa Sadr's son, Sadreddine, says that he will "continue the struggle" to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearance of his father. "We will do whatever it takes to save them," he says.

"My personal belief is that they are still alive, it's not just wishful thinking," he says in a soft voice.

Libya maintains that Sadr and his colleagues left Tripoli for Italy and says it knows nothing of his subsequent whereabouts. …