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Between forming a cabinet and collapse in Lebanon

Khairallah Khairallah

Published: Updated:

Simplifying things can help you understand – even if just a little – the Lebanese situation and its complications including the difficulty of forming a new cabinet by Saad Hariri. There is no government in Lebanon although it’s been three and-a-half months since the parliamentary elections were held on May 6.

This is not the first time there is delay in forming a cabinet. However, this time the delay is due to a clear desire to change the nature of the Lebanese system the foundation of which is the constitution that emanates from the 1989 Taif Agreement. There is a strange insistence - rather suspicious - on forming a cabinet according to “standards” that are based on the result of the parliamentary elections which still has different interpretations.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah used the word “standards” on the basis that he has a special interpretation of the result of the May 6 elections.

What Hassan Nasrallah did not say about these “standards” was said by Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Brigade in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Soleimani considers that Iran has the majority in the new parliament. He specified this majority with 74 MPs out of 128. What he is saying needs to be translated on the ground, especially since those whom Soleimani referred to as the majority did not object to his statements.

Two things are delaying the cabinet formation. The first one is the attempt to translate General Soleimani’s statements to reality and the other thing is linked to how the cabinet is being formed. According to the perspective of Hezbollah and its affiliates, it’s not the prime minister-designate who is forming this cabinet.

There is someone forming the cabinet for Hariri. This is something which the man who has a different vision to what the elections concluded cannot accept. There is a question that’s been asked since 2005, when Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, and it is basic in this current conflict: Is Lebanon an Arab country or does it follow an axis that in turn follows Iran?

Linked to country’s future

The issue is no longer about forming a cabinet as much as it is linked to Lebanon’s future. Those who want to protect Lebanon’s future do not talk about delusional victories that brought woes to the country and do not talk about a special interpretation of the parliamentary elections which were held according to a strange law – an interpretation that means Saad Hariri can settle with being a prime minister but without enjoying the post’s jurisdictions.

Saad Hariri is required to “manage” cabinet sessions and not be a prime minister. He must settle with a consolation prize that’s represented in the post he holds and not in the jurisdictions which this post allows him to have, including forming a reasonable and acceptable national “accord” government that reflects the reality of the balances in the country

Khairallah Khairallah


Saad Hariri is required to “manage” cabinet sessions and not be a prime minister. He must settle with a consolation prize that’s represented in the post he holds and not in the jurisdictions which this post allows him to have, including forming a reasonable and acceptable national “accord” government that reflects the reality of the balances in the country.

In brief, Rafiq Hariri’s convoy was not blown up on February 14, 2005, so Saad Hariri can come in 2018 and say Lebanon is a viable Arab country and that it is rather capable of benefiting from everything that’s happening in the region on condition that there is the minimum of stability, security and political awareness, and humbleness to be specific.

Ever since the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and even before that, since extending the presidential term of Emile Lahoud in particular, there has been an attempt that aims to control Lebanon. The cover which the Syrian regime provided to those who carried out the assassination was nothing but a small part of this operation which widened after Hezbollah imposed a president on the Lebanese people. Saad Hariri went for this option following the Maarab reconciliation (the reconciliation between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement) on one hand and in order to avoid the presidential vacuum which had lasted more than it should on another.

The party which wanted to get rid of Rafiq Hariri was not found so that the construction project, which was launched in 1992 and enthroned with restoring life to Beirut, can catch its breath. What was required was for assassination operations to resume after blowing up Hariri’s motorcade. What was required was triggering a war with Israel to destroy the country’s infrastructure so that Hezbollah can declare a “divine victory” – a victory which in the end turned out to be a victory against Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

What’s required is deepening the wounds which the Lebanese people suffer from in all their sects and to make the country hostage to an electricity, water, pollution and roads’ crisis. What’s required is for the Lebanese people to emigrate so those who stay behind are just those who serve the Iranian expansive project which knew how to be the first beneficiary from the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. This project only lives on thanks to its sectarian militias which control Iraq and which view themselves as the one with the first and final word in Lebanon.

What Hezbollah forgets these days is that there is a new analysis of the parliamentary elections’ results. This result does not allow it to marginalize Saad Hariri. There is nothing in the regional situation which indicates that the Syrian regime has restored its vitality and health. This regime has been living in the dustbin of history for a long time. Those who do not admit that it’s a regime that’s rejected by the sweeping majority of the Syrian people do not know anything about Syria, despite the disasters that have befallen on the revolution of people who have sought to restore some of their dignity since March 2011.

If there’s anything new in Syria these days then it’s not just summed up with the joint ISIS and regime massacre against As-Suwayda, the Druze majority city. The massacre which targeted a small sect, that’s major in the region, revealed the depth of the relation between the Syrian regime and those who supported it on one hand and ISIS on another.

What is also new are the Russian patrols in Golan. Russia is now the one protecting the disengagement agreement which Henry Kissinger was behind in 1974. If it was a must to talk about some sort of victory in Syria, this victory is for the Israeli-Russian-American alliance. There’s nothing which calls on Hezbollah to celebrate this victory which practically means that the occupied Golan has become a forgotten cause. What’s more important than all this is that there’s nothing in Lebanon which allows forming a cabinet that’s headed by Saad Hariri but that follows Hezbollah.

Yes there is another analysis of the elections’ result and the Syrian situation. This analysis allows Saad Hariri to resist. This is not just due to the fact that he’s assigned to form the cabinet according to constitutional norms and no party can deprive him of this appointment but it’s also because Lebanon has not completely fallen apart yet.

Lebanon is still resisting despite all the crises it is suffering from, particularly economic. It’s no secret that there’s a huge difference between forming a semi-reasonable cabinet and between collapse. Is there a party that can bear the consequences of a collapse that begins with Lebanon entering or being involved in an Iranian game with no horizon of any kind?

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Khairallah Khairallah is an Arab columnist who was formerly Annahar’s foreign editor (1976-1988) and Al-Hayat’s managing editor (1988-1998).

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.