The Hazard of Political Crisis in Lebanon

  • 13 September 2009

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri’s apology for not being able to form a government after more than 70 days of his appointment, spent in intense deliberations and negotiations with various political forces, underscores the complexity in the Lebanese political scene, and the extent of differences in views among different political parties on forming a government of national unity.

The long time spent by Al-Hariri trying to form a cabinet that enjoys consensus between the “majority” and the “minority” coalitions proved inconsequential, which confirms that the political situation in Lebanon is rife with tensions and disagreements, and that the relatively positive political discourse emerged after the last parliamentary elections, did not reflect the reality, as everything collapsed on the first test because of differences over the distribution of portfolios and positions within the new government. The setback in establishment of a new Lebanese government, even after three months of the parliamentary elections, announced on June 17, raises apprehensions in Lebanon and at the regional and international arenas as well, that this blow would leave Lebanon in the same state of political limbo that it had experienced in 2007 when the country was without a president for a long time. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, regretted that political parties in Lebanon were unable to reach an understanding for the formation of a government of national unity. This political vacuum in Lebanon can lead to an escalation of tensions in Lebanese street between various forces and currents, and thus push matters back to square. Thus, a dangerous security situation will ensue, in addition to the existing danger of exploding the Israeli front line. The exchange of fire recently on the borders between the two sides confirms this new threat, as it erupted when Lebanon was going through an internal political crisis, because of problems facing government formation.

Analyses indicate that the Lebanese President, Michel Suleiman, is expected to re-appoint Al-Hariri again to form the government, especially as he is the leader of the largest parliamentary bloc. Whoever will be entrusted with this difficult national responsibility, Lebanese political forces should cooperate with him, help him, and offer flexibility in their attitudes, give up their intransigence and rigidity, in order to bring the government of national unity to being and prevent the country from sliding into the abyss, is are indispensable in light of the huge challenges it faces, and needs the broadest possible cooperation, consensus, and coordination to address them, either at the political and security level or at an economic level.