Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Conflicting agendas?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 04/11/2006

For the past week, the Lebanese politicians have been trading accusations against each other. They denounce hidden agendas, speak of ulterior motives, and accuse the other of being sold out to a foreign power: Hezbollah is said to be obeying Iranian orders, Walid Joumblatt American and Israeli orders, Michel Aoun Syrian ones, Saad Hariri American and Saudi ones… Each “camp” tries to gather enough clues and hints to incriminate the other. And if they can’t find any, they proclaim that their political opponent is playing in the hands of a third party. Basically, the two “camps” disagree over the political agenda.On ones side, Hezbollah-Amal-FPM wants a change in the government so as to include the Free patriotic movement and to have a veto power by holding along with its allies a third of the ministerial seats. Hezbollah and the FPM have threatened to hit the streets and start massive protest if they are denied this wish.On the other side, Joumblatt-Hariri-Former Qornet Shehwan. They do not want any change in the government and argue that change has to start at the presidency level. They refuse the principle of granting Hezbollah and its allies a veto power, and believe that any change in government would jeopardise the Hariri inquiry and the international court that is to look into the case. They have answered that the street protests would be dramatic and could threaten economical and political security in
Lebanon. The Lebanese Forces has even announced counter protests if ever a massive demonstration was organised in favour of a change in government.  

The whole political debate has focused on ulterior motives instead of looking into the obvious facts. And the political actors have insisted in linking all issues together inextricably, instead of dealing with each separately and seeing how they can reconcile their differences and safeguard their interests and achieve as much as they can their political aims.  

For instance Hezbollah and its allies have shown that they already hold a minority blocking power. When they decided to boycott the cabinet meetings last winter, they paralysed the Council of Ministers for a month. The Council had found it uncomfortable and unacceptable to convene without any of its Shiite members.  

As for the inclusion of the FPM, this would certainly hurt the PSP-Future Movement’s Christian allies; Walid Joumblatt would probably have to renounce a Christian minister directly accountable to him (just as Nabih Berri learnt to live without Michel Moussa in the government). But on the other hand it would be bringing the political debate into the government, just like the Taef agreement had meant it to. 

As for the Hariri inquiry, can’t the PSP-Future Movement broker a deal before hand within the current government so to approve the setting up of the court as mentioned in the agreement being now discussed. If it’s a question of timing, can’t they set a timeframe for a change of government so as to do it after the approval of the special international court? 

When you look at the present political situation, you see a million ways to disentangle the different issues one from another. But unfortunately our political class has chosen the opposite, they have linked together all the pending questions and dramatised the whole debate.


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