FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lebanon in Search of a Government

by RANNIE AMIRI

“Bush, your orders will not be implemented and your tutelage is rejected.”

– Hezbollah Deputy General Sheik Naim Kassem, in response to President Bush’s call for Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to ignore the constitution and push through his candidate for president.

Maybe the 11th time will be the charm.

After 10 failed attempts to elect one, Lebanon still remains without a president since the term of Emile Lahoud expired on Nov. 23. The next parliamentary session has been scheduled for Dec. 29 in the hope of finally filling the vacancy.

The stalemate no longer centers on the choice for president, however. Both the opposition and the ruling March 14 Coalition have agreed on the widely respected army chief, General Michel Suleiman. There is also no dispute on the permissibility of him assuming the position. In fact, the government submitted a draft law that would amend the constitution to allow the senior military commander to become president. So what is the problem?

In short, the legitimacy of the Siniora government itself.

The opposition, led by Hezbollah and the Christian backers of the Free Patriotic Movement of General Michel Aoun, believe Siniora has no authority to govern following last year’s resignation of all five Shiite cabinet ministers (the Lebanese constitution requires all sects be represented in the government). As a result, boycotted parliamentary sessions have prevented seating the two-thirds quorum needed to elect Suleiman or anyone else.

Diplomatic niceties expressed over the past month have focused on bringing about political consensus, whereby all parties and interests are faithfully represented in a new unity government. Dig a bit deeper though and you will find what lies at the heart of Lebanon’s political impasse, succinctly expressed by MP Hussein al-Haj Hassan:

“The problem is not with General Suleiman as a consensus candidate, but with a group (the ruling coalition) that changes its political stands according to American dictates.”

Since the March 2005 Beirut protests that ultimately led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the pendulum has decidedly swung in the opposite direction. Prime Minister Siniora along with the leaders of the March 14 Coalition (Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea) wasted no time in ingratiating themselves to the Bush administration and steering the country on a decidedly pro-American course.

This new posture was disturbingly on display even as Israel systematically ravaged Lebanon in the summer of 2006 (on the pretext of returning two Israeli soldiers caught trespassing on Lebanese soil). During the war, which killed 1,000 Lebanese civilians, displaced nearly one million people-a quarter of the entire population-and deliberately devastated the civilian infrastructure, Siniora not only shamelessly received Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Beirut, but did so with a smile and kiss. Even after she made it clear the U.S. position would be neither to call for a cease-fire nor to restrain Israel, and despite the ongoing carnage, Rice was warmly welcomed.

More than a year-and-a-half after the war’s official end, Israel continues to take civilian lives. American made and supplied cluster bombs, littered by Israel over southern Lebanon at the conclusion of the war, remain a deadly reminder of the fruitless campaign’s savage nature. For no other purpose than to cause maximum loss of life in the war’s waning moments, nearly four million cluster bombs were indiscriminately dropped on the south.

Of these, an estimated one million remain unexploded, currently injuring and killing children and others who inadvertently come across them. Human rights groups condemned cluster bomb use as a violation of humanitarian international law, and even the U.S. State Department felt obligated to say their use against civilians breached the agreement of sale [NB: A just completed one year Israeli investigation found no contravention in the deployment of cluster bombs during the war, concluding it was a “concrete military necessity.”]

The sad legacy the U.S. and Israel have left for Lebanon is the continued maiming of its civilians, mass displacement of its population, and decimation of entire towns and villages along with their roads and bridges. The opposition to the Siniora administration is therefore one that seeks to ensure a voice remains to speak out against U.S. and Israeli interference and aggression, not one that capitulates to it. To guarantee Lebanon will not become a client state like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have, a demand is being made for a comprehensive political package that incorporates proper checks and balances on the prime minister.

Lebanese MP Hassan Fadlallah observed, “Bush didn’t enter a country where he didn’t cause wars and strife. He is trying to spread his experiment to Lebanon.”
In order for the present standoff to end, Siniora must first end Bush’s experiment. That may very well need to start with Siniora’s own resignation.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds. He may be reached at: rbamiri@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail