Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Bomb Is In The Mix!

I'm aware the Seniora list of proposed Ministers is out, but I wanted to share the list on the blogosphere so we could be able to discuss openly the merits and shortcomings of Seniora's picks.

  1. Fouad Seniora: Prime Minister, FM ally, Sunni
  2. Fouad Boutros: Deputy of PM and Foreign Minister, Independent, Greek Orthodox
  3. Tarek Mitri: State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Independent, Greek Orthodox
  4. MP Bahij Tabbara: Justice, FM, Sunni
  5. Jihad Azour: Finance, Independent, Maronite, Seniora's financial advisor
  6. MP Yassin Jaber: Defense, Amal, Shiite
  7. MP Marwan Hamade: Interior, PSP, Druze
  8. MP Nayla Moawwad: Economy, QS, Maronite
  9. Sami Haddad: Telecommunications, Independent, Minorities, World Bank employee
  10. MP Ghazi Youssef: Energy, FM, Shiite
  11. MP Michel Pharaoun: Industry, FM, Catholic
  12. MP Mohammad Safadi: Public Works, FM ally, Sunni
  13. MP Mohammad Khalifa: Health, Amal, Shiite
  14. Trad Hamadeh: Labor, Hizbullah, Shiite
  15. Joe Sarkis: Tourism, LF, Maronite
  16. Ghattas Khoury: Education, FM, Maronite
  17. A fifth Shiite unnamed figure from Hizbullah for Agriculture
  18. MP Ahmad Fatfat: Information, FM, Sunni
  19. MP Ghazi Aridi: Culture, PSP, Druze
  20. MP Hagop Demerdjian: Environment, FM, Armenian
  21. Khaled Kabbani: Social Affairs, FM, Sunni
  22. MP Nihmeh Tohmeh: Displaced, PSP, Catholic
  23. MP Pierre Gemayel: Youth & Sports, QS and Katayib Corrective Movement, Maronite
  24. George Osseili: Administrative Reform, Independent, Greek Orthodox
I have some comments to share on this proposed mix:

Half of the ministers are non-MPs and technocrats, including Seniora which is a genuine move away from the usual very-politicized Cabinet.

Seniora has shown steadfastness in refusing Hizbullah-Amal demand to hijack the Foreign portfolio. I am impressed he ensured that the position went to an independent and to someone who has the credits and merits to carry such a delicate portfolio. By picking an independent, he has moved this portfolio away from any parochial interference. He stood in their way, and appeased them by giving them the Defense and showed a genuine commitment for breaking away from the past. However, it doesn't seem that easy, HA-Amal are heard not accepting the appeasement move and want the Foreign portfolio at all costs. Way to go!

The Labor ministry goes again to Trad Hamadeh of Hizbullah. I must confess that in our country labor policy and workforce development is a non-issue, unfortunately. When will this portfolio be given the importance of the Economy? On another level, Trad Hamadeh before leaving the past government signed in a bill to allow Palestinian refugees to assume certain jobs in Lebanon. I have a feeling that as much as the labor portfolio is a non-issue for many, it is an important policy tool for Hizbullah.

It's interesting having Nayla Moawwad as an Economy Minister. Her background is not economics- or trade-related. It is definitely a political seat. I know for a fact that the Ministry's staff are competent and have many bright initiatives ready to be signed off; I believe that Moawwad will be a facilitator and not a blocker.

After reading the news today (and more than just Al-Nahar and Al-Mustaqbal), I must confess that the talk about Maronites getting the "leftovers" of ministerial positions is nonsensical. Moawwad of QS has the Economy, Jihad Azour has the Finance, and Joe Sarkis has the Tourism (and Tourism is not leftovers, unless we think that of tourism in our country).

Yesterday in Al-Balad, Toni Francis wrote that if Hariri did not think it advisable to have a government that includes everyone and did not enforce his movement's "Open Hand" policy toward Aoun (which Francis thinks that he could've settled for forming a majority government), it wouldn't have looked as bad now that Aoun decided to pull out.

Moreover, the HA-Amal "bomb" alliance have claimed to be upset that FM has taken 10 seats in the government as opposed to only five for them, especially that they garnered 31 seats in the Parliament (not that far from FM's 36 seats).

What remains to be seen is President Lahoud's take on this mix. He already sent Seniora back home to rethink his proposal, perhaps to add more of Lahoud's men on the list (Elias Murr missing?!). It's up to Lahoud now to either agree to a majority government or stall the process until a "national representative" government is set in place.

What remains to be seen as well is FM-Siniora's decision to either push forward with their mix and face the possibility of hurting their ties with HA-Amal (which probably won't be a pretty sight, knowing that Berri is the Speaker for at least another two years) or give in to their demands, which in reality they have the right to based on their popular support depicted in the number of seats they garnered in Parliament, which overshadows any other factions' demands, and puts FM and HA-Amal as the two contenders right now for making or breaking the government mix approval (of course after Lahoud's blessing.)

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


ThinkingMan said...

That's a pretty good assessment of what I have read and heard so far.
What counts at the end is that all these ministers become competent in their own roles, regardless of what religion or sect they come from.
I would hold and regard each accountable, regardless of their religion, and that's the way we should see them.

There are greater transparency expectations now and no one is immune from it.

Ideally, I would have liked to see more independent technocrats, but that might have been difficult to implement, perhaps. But the key is that ministries are "above personal or sectarian interests", and are meant to serve national interests.

Doha said...


The way you see things, and the way I see things, is different from how most Lebanese see it. They care a lot about sects; it matters the most, more than having technocrats or merit. This way of doing business will not change in a beat; it will take a long time to alter this mentality. In fact, at the beginning I wished not to write the politicians' sect next to them, but then I said to myself, "who are you kidding?", probably many reading this post would want to know the "sectual" mix in the list, to either give Siniora a high-five or boo him...But this will change a bit by bit and till now I'm still optimistic.

ThinkingMan said...

I didn't mean it in a radical way. What I meant is that, as long as a reprentative "balance" is achieved while at the same time putting competent people that look after the future of Lebanon, that's important.
I was echoing what Fuad Boutros said, about his participation. And the fact that there are a "Few" technocrats shows that Seniora believes in that vision as well.
We must look after Lebanon's future.

JoseyWales said...

Trivia: The 3 Greek Orthodox are all independent.


Doha said...


JoseyWales said...


Meaning? Dunno.

Jus throwing it out there, as a side issue now, to people who focus on his sort of thing (Tony and others...).

I.e. Why are some communities represented by parties (some monolithic, some not) and others not. How does that impact that community's influence and share of power etc..

Just wondering.

PS BTW, another matter of trivia: why is thinkingman TG now? Is he now Thinking Guy?

Doha said...

You're funny, JW, I actually didn't know till you pointed it out: it should be TM, not TG. Ooops! (but he is a thinking guy too.)

R2K said...

Very interesting to get an idea about other cultures...


Anonymous said...

An orthodox friend of mine has this theory about many orthodox being independent or leaning towards the left as reaction to Maronists parties ... But it doesn't make much sense here ...

hehehe sorry JW, the post turned out to be rather useless but I had good intentions in helping with the triva.


Stupid! said...

Nayla Mouawad as Minister of Economy...should we all kill ourselves today??

Why? What? HOW?

Shouldn't a seasoned economist take that post...lead the country out of its current crisis?

Thats how its supposed to be...

Or at least get somone who understands the proposals and policies put forward by the advisors...not Nayla who barely knows how to construct a sentence and of whom we only know because her husband was president for 3 days