And he finally did it. PM Najib Mikati resigned on Friday after lots of previous calls for resignations, explicitly by March 14 and implicitly – in form of threats – by Hezbollah’s camp. But Mikati did not do it to please those guys, it was simply the best action for him.
The Lebanese people won’t accept, after today, the continuation of the government of assassination
In a half-civilised country, if a cat was killed in the same way as Wissam Al-Hassan was killed, a government or at least a minister would resign. So no question what should happen when a security chief gets bombed.
But let’s be honest here, Lebanon is an abnormal farm that makes such a move a high-risk venture with unknown consequences. At its best, we could be looking at political vacuum. At its worst, we are taking about sectarian civil war here. And this message was clearly passed on by the US and EU that they don’t mind this Hezbollah-controlled government to keep going.
That was me, but more than one year ago:
Soon, they (the government) won’t be able to blame the previous Hariri policies, and as time progresses, their argument against the previous Hariri policies will weaken. They are in charge now, and responsible for steering the economy, cleaning up the state and politics from corruption. It goes without saying that the new lineup could ultimately end up in an explosive manner.
I must admit, I didn’t expect the government to be that bad, and the country to be falling apart as it is now. The government was supposed to contain political parties that defend the ‘vulnerables’, ‘deprived’, ‘socialism’ as featured by their names, or just do ‘Reform and Change’!
What an end for a story climax, the completion of challenge of the 2011 funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). It ended peacefully this time, with the least damages possible to all parties concerned, by the announcement of PM Najib Mikati on Wednesday 30th November 2011 that he wired the required $32m to the STL. No further details were given; he told us that he just did it! No news where the money came from and how. Rumours spread that it will be covered from donations, or from the High Commission for Relief (HRC) budget, or may be from some dodgy black box type account! Anyway, HRC denied the news that it was funding the STL from its budget, but I couldn’t think of a better relief to avoid a better disaster!
Last week, Lebanese Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza submitted a report to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) stating they failed to detain the suspects.
Today, the president of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Judge Antonio Cassese, said that this move does not end Lebanon’s continuing obligation to assist the Tribunal. He called on Lebanese authorities to intensify their efforts to arrest the four suspects wanted in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He then asked the Lebanese Prosecutor General to submit a monthly progress report to the Tribunal.
In an article to the Lebanese daily AnNahar, Nadine Hani asked the question on why Lebanon isn’t acting on a plan to deal with its sovereign debt, similar to other countries facing the current debt crisis:
Countries that were hit by the economic crisis have adopted policies of austerity. Lebanon is no exception and it has to start effectively addressing its debt either by reforming the electricity sector, which is costing the treasury $1.5 billion annually, or by selling small parts of publically-owned companies, such as Middle East Airlines, and listing other parts of them on the Beirut bourse.
A valid obvious question, but the government’s likely answer is pretty obvious too: we are no exception, but we don’t know our policy on this matter. Yes, the Lebanese government hasn’t told us what they are planning to do!
The Ministerial Policy Statement is the policy document that the Lebanese cabinet is supposed to take the confidence on in the parliament. It is astonishing that the whole document does not contain any number or target i.e. it is an essay excercise like the previous ones, and has no scientific significance or accountability measures. You can say it’s a copy-paste exercise from previous statements, and I just wonder if this government has employed Johann Hari in any way.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has issued its indictment to the Lebanese authorities today. STL was formed in The Hague by the United National Security Council in 2007 through the 1757 Resolution. Its remit is to investigate and try the responsible for the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister then Rafiq Hariri, and others who died with him on February 14th 2005.
Speaker Nabih Berri facilitated the formation of the new government in Lebanon last week, by accepting to reduce the ‘Shia share’ by 1 seat to 5, allowing the Sunni’s share to be increased to 7 seats in a 30 ministers cabinet.
This is the first time since the Taef Agreement (that mostly ended the civil war) in 1989 that the Sunni and Shia shares are not equal. This precedent was called a ‘sacrifice’ by Berri’s allies, while others were less enthusiastic about it; mostly Christian figures who had some reservations about it (from March 8 & March 14).
Although almost all Lebanese politicians aspire publicly to end the sectarian quotas in the state, but they don’t miss any opportunity to cling onto them, as the current system guarantees their own sustainability. Although Berri’s move is surely not motivated by this aim, but I think this precedent is not bad in this respect. It’s ‘ok’ for our sect to take less than others. Moreover, our constitution requires a 50/50 split between Christianity and Islam in the state appointments (government and others), but it doesn’t say much on the distribution within the same religion between the different sects; the rest is usually done according to conventions. That said, I don’t usually crow about things Nahib Berri does: my previous posts say that: ‘The 60 years of Nabih Berri‘. or ‘Wondering what Lebanon’s problem is?‘
After more than four months of waiting, the designate Prime Minister Najib Mikati has announced today his new government lineup in Lebanon. One thing strikes any observer straight away is to why this formation took so long. The majority of the newly appointed ministers are part of or affiliated with March 8 alliance. Many thought forming this new government should accordingly take only 24 hours (the previous government resignation was branded by March 14 as a Hezbollah coup d’etat)