Updated: Saad Hariri resigns, to be reappointed as Lebanon PM
Hariri will be reappointed as PM again by the President Michel Suleiman, according to reports published in Lebanese newspapers, as we earlier pointed out via the BBC news story. How Hariri’s second round of efforts to establish a government go down will be seen in the weeks to come, but hopefully there won’t be a third round of this never-ending saga.
And after all the euphoria, the question to ask is… was this really that unexpected? We knew Hariri would have problems forming a govenrment, especially after the fairly strong showing of the Hizbollah-led M8 coalition at the election. We witnessed months of political to-ing and fro-ing, som epeople wondered why Hariri was giving so much ground to M8, other, like Qifa Nabki, wondered what the point of it all was of it all is:
As we’ve discussed many times before, one really wonders what the point of a national unity government is, under these circumstances. If it has taken them this long to fail to form a goverment, how is it even imaginable that a national unity cabinet is going to get anything done? Does Hariri think that Aoun is going to become easier to deal with once he joins the cabinet and that the FPM is going to stop behaving like an aggrieved opposition party? I venture to say that the opposite will be true.
While the National Unity government certainly has its problems, many struggle with what the alternative would be, especially an alternative that pleases the many foreign fingers that are in the Lebanese pie and while appeasing these foreign fingers is perhaps a cynical suggestion to make, it’s a realistic one given today’s political climate. Not appeasing them is simply not possible. The current failures to form a unity government are nicely summed up by Qifa Nabki once again:
The problem with the current process in Lebanon is that the smaller blocs have no need to “sell themselves” to the big bloc because they know that the big bloc is already committed to including them in some way in the government. With no fear of being left out in the cold, they can continue to make one demand after another.
Many, Qifa Nabki included, are suggesting that Hariri and M14 consider governing alone, much as Hassan Nasrallah threatened earlier while his M8 coalition were expected to win the election comfortably. However is this a possibility realistically? If Hizbullah is not given a proper piece of the pie then will this not lead to further destabilisation in Lebanon? Would Nasrallah then simply be chomping at the bit to destabilise the situation further? The issue of foreign interference seems to be underlined by this recent report from Now Lebanon with confirmation from ‘an official source’ that Hariri stepped down due to ongoing obstruction from Iran, who were using Lebanon as a bargaining chip with the West, and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement. The text of Hariri’s resignation speech can be found on Saad & Rafiq Hariri’s website but the money shot for me (though not much of a money shot really) is here:
This lineup is a true opportunity that has been wasted due to the new conditions, even though everyone knows that it doesn’t sideline anyone. On the contrary, it follows the principles of full participation without turning into a means to contest the results of the Parliamentary elections.
Since it has been impossible to reach an agreement on this lineup for known reasons, and as I refuse to turn the President or the Prime Minister-designate into a box office through which we receive the decrees to nominate ministers coming from political parties; and given that my commitment to form a national unity government has run up against known difficulties, I announce that I have informed the President of the Republic that I have stepped down from forming the government.
Well it’s basically Hariri whinging, or at least sounding like a considerable whinger, though I guess you wouldn’t expect anything less in Lebanon. The ‘decrees to nominate ministers’ bit is obviously referring to Aoun… and ‘known difficulties’, well yes I’d say we do all sort of know the difficulties, and for those that don’t know, Emirati The National has a decent round-up of them, though a little outdated as it’s pre-resignation.
The National calls this move ‘tough brinkmanship’, The BBC is speculating that, according to Lebanese papers, Suleiman might actually reappoint Hariri, the future of Lebanon once again hangs in the balance.