Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Suleiman & Hariri (2): the unexpected heir

Posted by worriedlebanese on 17/07/2009

Hariri_FamilyJournalists, housewives and other coffee drinkers have been discussing the changes they have noticed in Saad Hariri’s attitude. These changes are quite noticeable. Not only has Hariri become a better public speaker, but he modified his political positioning. For the past few months, he  no longer positions himself as the government’s godfather, and the Prime Minister’s protector. He has taken center stage. Let’s have a closer look at what he represents.

The unexpected heir

Saad Hariri enjoys a very enviable political position, gathering support and having leverage on three different levels: .
  • On a local and communal level, Saad Hariri inherited his father’s position within the Sunni community. His authority over the Sunni religious institutions is no secret to anyone. The Sunni religious leadership has been openly and collectively campaigning for him during the last two parliamentary elections. Furthermore, Saad Hariri is the king maker amongst Sunnis. He finished what his father had started (and the Syrians had prevented him from completing), becoming the sole political “reference” (مرجع) of the Sunni community, head of an electoral bulldozer (محدلة) and the arbitrator who chooses amongst the local notables those who will represent the nation in parliament.  Out of the 26 sunni MPs, 14 are officially part of his bloc (54%), 6 MPs are members of allied blocs (out of which at least 3 are “lent”), 4 are independent (2 of which owe their place to Hariri), 2 are part of rival blocs (owe their seats to the Shiite Bulldozer).
  • On a national level, the Sunni leader was hurled into a dominant position on his father’s coattail. Since 2005, he heads the country’s largest political group, parliamentary bloc, media group, financial group, real estate group (and security company, so it seems). If you want to get a clearer picture of what he represents,  think Berlusconi and multiply him by 10 (at least).
  • On an international level, Saad Hariri enjoys the backing of Saudi Arabia, France and the United States, so in practical terms, that means that he has the wealthiest and strongest international allies amongst all Lebanese politicians.

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