Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Cabinet That Will Put Our Wisdom to The Test

Talks today point towards Seniora bending to the demands of Aoun's bloc to assume the Justice portfolio (so perhaps after all, the issue was partly the Justice Ministry seat?)

What does this mean? Does it mean that Seniora will resolve the other portfolio-related obstacle and hand the Foreign Ministry to the Hizbullah-Amal coalition? Isn't it only fair?

Again, I don't see how picking seats will resolve the major issues/obstacles our country faces right now. Perhaps we should be reminded that this is a Cabinet and not a Senate. Jumblatt can have the Interior, Hizbullah can have the Foreign, Aoun can have the Justice, Hariri can have the Finance...but in principle, this does not mean that Ministers can have their own One-Man Shows. I admit that a "National Unity" government can take longer to achieve its intended goals, because you almost have a mini-Opposition within the government itself...and "Opposition" (the act) is becoming a fashionable thing to do right now (or hasn't it been always?).

This will be indeed the Cabinet that will put our resilience and wisdom to the test...

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


Hassan said...

Even if that distribution of portfolios holds, I’m guessing the first “Independence Government” will face its primary test of "Natinoal Unity" with the Government Declaration (suggest a better translation for Bayan Wizari? Anyone?) The main issue here is the reference to UNSCR 1559, a reference “anticipated” by the US, whatever that means.
But many internal parties want to beat around the bush or ignore the subject totally as they did with the latest Hezbollah/IDF fight.

Anton Efendi said...

Hassan has it right. This is not about the Justice portfolio or anything like that. This is about Hizbullah and 1559. Hizbullah is not only wants to dictate policy (foreign and domestic), it's also deciding who should be "forgiven" (i.e., the issue of reconciliation), be it Geagea or the former SLA people (needless to say, they shut their cute pie holes on those in Syrian jails).

Read what Nasrallah said most recently. It's quoted in L'Orient-Le Jour. He said disarming Hizbullah is not just "difficult" (commenting on what Anne Patterson said to Al-Hayat), it's "impossible."

If this is how Nasrallah wants to play it, I fear that the possibility of an armed conflict grows. This is what he is leading to. His agenda is beholden to Iran (they've been meeting with them incessantly). This is why they want the foregin portfolio.

Anton Efendi said...

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to a replay of a talk with Gebran Tueni and Farid el-Khazen on Sawt Libnen (Voix du Liban) online. Tueni called 1559 the greatest gift for Lebanon. How is this reconcilable with Hizbullah's position, or Jumblatt's statement about 1559 and the new cabinet? This is PRECISELY what Aoun is saying. He's right.

Doha said...

I wrote in my previous post: "the government needs to agree on central policies amongst them the issue of UNSCR 1559. The government can be formed with Ministers taking their favorite seats as if in a show, but we might just see the whole show blow up upon sitting together to draft the Government Policy Statement."

I just got off the news right now and apparently the meeting between Seniora and Berri did not lead to a resolution with regards to the Foreign Ministry issue. Berri is heading to Algeria which means that most probably the government's birth will be postponed until next Wednesday.

Seniora claimed that it might be possible to form the government with Berri's absence. We'll see. He claimed that the negotiations with Aoun are positive. He tried to alleviate everyone's worries about the possibility of his resignation from his duty of forming the government.

The best thing he said was that he does not accept any party dictating on him who should assume what portfolio; he will be giving portfolios based on ability and merit. Again, we'll see. This guy reminds me of Hariri; patient, positive, and gives nothing away.

Anton Efendi said...

Farid el-Khazen said on Salon es-Sabet (the program on Sawt Libnen): Even if Aoun had wanted a wizarit dawle (no portfolio), Jumblat would've rejected it. We need to have a cabinet in harmony (mutajanise). Read: 1559, and Jumblat's positions.

Anton Efendi said...

Hearing Khazen you get that same impression. The relations with the Future Movement are excellent. No problem at all about portfolios, no one dictating anything between the two. Khazen said Aoun expected to be in the opposition anyway, and had no problem in that regard.

Doha said...

Khazen is so persuasive; he's a professor after all (was mine at once!). Anyways, read this
It's an interview between Fouad Saad (Jumblatt's ally) and Farid El-Khazen. He touches on the issues you're talking about. Worth reading.

Anton Efendi said...

I loved this:

والرسالة ان المقاومة هنا ولا يستطيع ان يقتلعها احد، رسالة للعدو ليعرف ان كل ما يجري في لبنان وحوله لا يمكن ان يجعل عيون المقاومة تنام او تنشغل بأمور اخرى، الرسالة هي ان المقاومة وحزبها حتى ولو حضرت بقوة في الوضع الداخلي، من تشكيل حكومة وغير ذلك، ستبقى المقاومة وعيون حزبها على القدس وكرامة الوطن وسلامة اهلنا.

Did you hear that? "The eyes of the Party are on Jerusalem." Gebran Tueni, as I'm typing this, is saying (in a repeat of the show), we need to know where HA's agenda ends. Does it go beyond Lebanon? I think Nasrallah answered that.

Anton Efendi said...

From today's Anwar:

أنطوان فرح

عون يعود بشروط أفضل
تلوح في الأجواء مؤشرات توحي بأن أسلوب اللعبة السياسية تغيّر بعض الشيء، وان عودة الرئيس المكلَّف فؤاد السنيورة الى رحاب الرابية، وطَرْق الباب مجدداً، تعني أن الأمور تتجه نحو مسارها الصحيح. وقد صار واضحاً أن طارق الباب، لم يأتِ بالعرض نفسه السابق، والا لما كان عاد، ولا المتحصِّن في موقعه مستعد أن يتنازل، بعدما تبين أن من دونه لن تقلع الحكومة. وفي الحالة هذه، يبرز سؤال عن مضمون ما سيعرضه الرئيس المكلَّف على الجنرال لإقناعه بالعودة الى حكومة الوفاق الوطني، وما هو الحد الأدنى الذي يمكن أن يقبله الجنرال لتأمين الغطاء لهذه الحكومة?
برغم أن المعلومات المتوفرة شحيحة، إلا أن ما يتسرَّب منها، على قلّته، يفيد بأن النقطة المحورية صارت ترتبط بشروط عون المتعلقة بتنقية الأجواء، لإتاحة الفرصة أمام نجاح حكومة الوفاق الوطني التي يجري الحديث عنها. وقد تبلَّغ رئيس كتلة المستقبل سعد الحريري هذا الموقف، وأخذ على عاتقه مهمة تبريد الأجواء، تمهيداً لتعبيد الطريق أمام تطبيع العلاقات بين عون وجنبلاط.
لكن تحسين مناخات العمل الحكومي، ليس الشرط الوحيد. فالجنرال يعرف أن الحكومة ستواجه ملفات داخلية وقد يكون من الأسهل اعتماد خيار تشكيل حكومة من الأكثرية النيابية الفائزة في الانتخابات، على تشكيل حكومة اتحاد وطني يمكن أن تتفجَّر من الداخل اذا لم يتم الاتفاق على ترسيم خط سيرها منذ البداية.
وقد يكون هذا الموقف بالتحديد، أحد أسباب اقتناع سعد الحريري، بأن وجود الجنرال في الحكومة يشكِّل توازناً ضرورياً، لمواجهة هذه المسألة. ويبدو أيضاً، أن الأميركيين مقتنعون بذلك، وقد أظهرت تحركاتهم الأخيرة باتجاه الرابية، حرصهم على إظهار دعم مميز لمواقف العماد عون، وإرسال إشارات في كل الاتجاهات.
1559، أكثر مما يأخذ على محمل الجد، كلام جنبلاط في شأن تبنّي الحكومة لفكرة إعلان رفضها الواضح للقرار الدولي. ويعتبر الحزب أنه لا بد من تعميق الحوار مع الجنرال عون، في محاولة للتفاهم على صيغة مقبولة لصياغة الموقف الحكومي الرسمي من القرار. والجنرال مستعد لهذا الأمر، وقد قدَّم حتى الآن رؤوس أقلام عن الأفكار التي يقترحها لحل هذه المسألة.
ويقول مصدر مطلع أن الحريري مقتنع بأن ما يمكن أن يتوصل اليه العماد عون في حواراته مع حزب الله، لا يستطيع هو أن يبلغه، لاعتبارات عدة. وبالتالي فإن عون يمثل رأس حربة ضرورية في هذا الموضوع الحسّاس.
وبرغم أن العماد عون وافق من حيث المبدأ على استئناف الحوار لانضمامه الى حكومة اتحاد وطني مقترحة، الا أنه يُصنّف نفسه قائداً لجبهة المعارضة، سواء انضمَّ الى الحكومة، أم لا.
ويعتبر الجنرال عون، أن هناك أكثرية نيابية تمثِّل السلطة من حيث المبدأ. لكن، ولأن الظروف الداخلية والخارجية، تحتاج الى حكومة اتحاد وطني، فإنه يوافق على الانضمام الى هذه الحكومة، من دون أن يتخلّى عن موقعه المعارض بامتياز. وهو مستعد للعمل على إنجاح مهمة هذه الحكومة، إذا توفَّر المناخ الايجابي المطلوب. وبالمقابل، إذا طرأ ما يستدعي فرط هذه الحكومة، فإن العماد عون سيكون في موقفه الطبيعي على رأس المعارضة.
هل تنجح هذه التوليفة، وتتشكَّل حكومة اتحاد وطني ببرنامج موحَّد واضح?
مقرَّبون من العماد عون يقرّون بأن الأجواء تبدَّلت، وهناك ايجابية واضحة لم تكن موجودة عندما فشلت المفاوضات في دورتها الأولى، لضم التيار الوطني الى الحكومة. لكن هذه المؤشرات لا تكفي لوحدها للقول، إن الطريق صارت سالكة أمام حكومة الاتحاد الوطني. وهناك مواضيع كثيرة ومتشعبة تحتاج الى التفاهم حولها. وفي أقل تقدير، ينبغي أن يتم التوافق على البيان الوزاري الأول لحكومة الاتحاد الوطني، وتحديداً حول الموقف الذي سيُعلَن من القرار .1559 وإذا لم تنجح المفاوضات في تجاوز هذه العقدة، لا حاجة الى البحث عن أسباب أخرى للخلاف، لأن هذه العقدة كافية لوحدها لمنع قيام الحكومة العتيدة. إذ عندما يُسأَل أحدهم لماذا خسرت الحرب? ويجيب: أولاً، لأننا لا نملك ذخيرة، ولا حاجة الى الاستماع الى ثانياً أو ثالثاً، فالسبب الأول مُقنِع ولا يحتاج الى تدعيم.

Doha said...


As long as we have MPs like Gebran Tueni and Farid El-Khazen, I feel that we cannot give up on Lebanon. What do you say? Truely, where do you find such an open, candid discussion between two politicians in the Arab world other than Lebanon?

Anton Efendi said...

Take a look at this as well, from today's Anwar:

لا مجال لمسامحة من هم داخل اسرائيل)
الحاج حسن: ما المشكلة اذا تمسكنا بالخارجية?
اكد عضو كتلة (الوفاء للمقاومة) النائب حسين الحاج حسن انه من غير الجائز طرح موضوع العفو عن الذين غادروا لبنان الى اسرائيل لانهم (عملاء) لا مجال لمسامحة من خان وطنه وتركه الى بلد العدو وبالتالي لا يمكن طرحه بموازاة مشاريع العفو المطروحة حاليا على الساحة الداخلية.
ولاحظ شبه قطيعة في العلاقات اللبنانية - السورية محملا الحملات العنصرية التي قامت في لبنان مسؤولية الامر.
وشدد على تمسك (حزب الله) وحركة (امل) بوزارة الخارجية وقال:( لماذا يحق للطوائف الاخرى بحقائب وزارية سيادية ولا يحق لنا ذلك? ارى انه من المنطقي جدا في ظل توزيع الحقائب طائفيا ان تحصل الطائفة الشيعية بما تمثل من ثقل وطني على حقيبة (الخارجية) فاما ان يحصل وفاق وطني حقيقي يخرج من الطائفية وصولا الى الغاء كل فريق او تكتل مطالبه بحيث لا يعود توزيع الحقائب طائفياً يخلق مشكلة.
استبدال الوجود السوري بالطائفة الشيعية وقال:( لا افهم سبب استثنائنا دائما وتناولنا من منطلق الطائفية، كل الطوائف تحدد مطالبها ورؤياها وكذلك الاحزاب والتكتلات النيابية فما الضرر من تحديد مطالبنا? اعتقد ان تحديد مطالبنا طائفيا افضل بكثير من الوصاية الفرنسية والاميركية فالاجتماع الذي صدر على اثره هذا الكلام شارك فيه السفير الفرنسي.
واذ لفت الى عدم التراجع عن اي من ثوابت الحزب، شدد على ان تضمين البيان الوزاري رفض بند الغاء الميليشيات فما المانع من تضمين البيان الوزاري الرفض وما المبرر).
للحزب في مواجهة الضغوط الخارجية اعتبر الحاج حسن ان الآلية تكمن في الوحدة الوطنية والحوار فالسلاح وسيلة وليس غاية، ولكن عندما تغيب الوسيلة والغاية فنحن سنتمسك بالوسيلة.
واذ لاحظ شبه قطيعة في العلاقات اللبنانية - السورية، ربط الاعتراف الرسمي السوري بلبنانية مزارع شبعا بتحسن هذه العلاقات لان ما يحصل اليوم هو ضد مصلحة البلدين ونتيجة (الشوفينية) (العصبيات) وردود الفعل المبالغ فيها فما حصل في لبنان ابان الانسحاب السوري وبعده من حملات عنصرية ليس طبيعيا كما ان الحكم والحكومة لم يقوما بما يكفي لاعادة بما يكفي لاعادة تصحيح هذا الخلل

Anton Efendi said...

I thought that appearence on Sawt Libnen was truly exceptional. There's no one in Lebanon I like more than Farid, even though he's not my MP (Tueni is).

JoseyWales said...

A parenthesis: Everone talks about 1559. Can we say that HA needs to turn in their arms with or without 1559. Do we always need he UN, or Papa Chirac or whomever to tell us what to do.

What self-respecting country needs ADVICE, let alone foreign advice, to send its army to the border? Am I crazy?

To Berri: What is there in Algeria that cannot wait and is more important than govmt affairs in a crisis? If you are the Speaker that is. Reminds me of when the top 3 stooges all went to the Vatican for JP II funeral in the middle of the counry's worst crisis.

Tony or anyone:

I would greatly appreciate it if you provided a link to that radio station. Thx in advance.

Doha said...

JW,, is the link. Unfortunately, the show will be over in less than 5 minutes.

Anton Efendi said...

I heard that it may be repeated Sunday night on the Canadian-Lebanese radio:

I talked to the Canadia radio, and he said there were problems posting it online, so they may not be able. But keep an eye on it, Sunday evening, around 7-8PM.

As for your point on 1559, I'm sorry but this is ridiculous! First, TAEF stipulates this, and 1559 reasserted that and made it a UN demand. What do you mean advice? This is international law. We're going to play macho, a la Nasrallah, who fantasizes about being a Shiite Nasser? Spare me this stupid logic of "resistance."

JoseyWales said...

Doha, Tony,


Anton Efendi said...

وتطرق الى الجدل حول حقيبة الخارجية فقال انه "حتى وان تكن الحكومة كلها راديكالية، فإن وزير خارجيتها يجب ألا يكون راديكالياً (...) بل يجب ان يكون منفتحاً وينقل وجهات نظر جميع الاطراف ولا يتسبب بتعكير العلاقات مع الآخرين بسبب سياسة خاصة ينتهجها"

Aoun: "Even if the entire cabinet is radical, the Foreign Minister should not be a radical... Rather, he should be open and able to carry the points of view of all parties, and not disrupt relations with other because of a particular policy of his."

Wink, Wink.

Hassan said...

"this stupid logic of resistance"?
The "stupid logic" theorists were using the same term, or at least similar rhetoric, prior to May 2000. We’ve heard “what can a bunch of bearded hooligans do against one of the world’s best armies” over a thousand times. This definitely isn’t the issue. We’re missing the major points here. In terms of military practicality and efficiency, the current model of operations is best for the status quo with Israel. Personally, I don’t care about that and will be better off focusing on the political aspect of it all. At the heart of the HA disarming issue are many other things, certainly of little relevance to their well-established ability to function.

I’ll be writing a little article on HA soon. I hope it turns out good enough to be posted; that’ll be my part of the deal. As for you guys, I hope future comment threads don’t take the same path of almost everyone’s replies to my “other perspective”. It really reached a point where I had to tell myself never to win by argument. At that point, a blog is very purpose-defeating.

Anton Efendi said...

Hassan you're talking about something else. That's not what I had in mind. And you're wrong in underestimating the meaning of HA's weapons to their nature as an ideological militant party.

BTW, take a look at this interesting older piece by Radwan al-Sayyed.

Hassan said...

Tony, It's not the relation of HA arms to their nature as a party that I'm denying. It's the relation of the efficiency of their resistance to the issue of disarming them: How good the resistance is seems to be of no relevance to the ongoing discussions.

Thanks for the link; I like the article and it should prove useful in any future analysis on the issue. As for what you meant, please elaborate.

Anton Efendi said...

I meant that I never raised the issue of efficiency, you did. Whatever that efficiency may be is debatable, but ultimately irrelevant. We have no territorial dispute with Israel anymore (and please, don't bring up Shebaa. Until the Syrians sign it over, it's a non-issue). Why should we have a non-governmental guerilla movement? That's the question. The "stupid resistance logic" is saying we will defy the US, and we will continue to maintain the "balance of terror" with Israel, at any cost, even economic collapse, civic strife, military retaliation, and becoming a pariah state.

The problem is that Hizbullah is captive to that highly maximalist ideological stance, and any step down from that may be a potentially crushing blow to their image that they've cultivated for so long. And, as Naim Qassem, not me, said: "Our power is not how many MPs we have. Our power is our image." Without it, what separates HA from Amal, or Michel Murr for that matter?!

As Hassan Mneimneh recetly put it, Nasrallah is an ideological leader. That is a problem. That is "stupid logic".

I'm glad you liked the Sayyed piece, but you may have noticed the deep underlying Sunni-Shiite tension in that piece. By the way, so that people can get off the backs of Christians on this issue, notice how even Sunnis (like Sayyed) play the demographic game, claiming that the Sunnis are the largest community. So when people start blaming the issue of deconfessionalization on Christians, they should remember this. Do Sunnis, or Druze, or the Shiites for that matter, really want that? As William Harris once put it, a census will be to no one's liking.

Hassan said...

I agree they have overinflated that image to an extent where it would be harmful to them to make any concessions. But they started out well with the elections alliances (LF), and real steps (soon to vote for releasing Geagea). Note that these steps seem one-sided in view of no real guarantees of Geagea's stands (look out Jumblat). It will also be interesting to watch how significant their government performance will be in affecting that image.

I think the census is what we can start with if we want to be honest with ourselves, because sooner or later it will be integral to deconfessionalism, or even to re-balancing the current system, twisted as that may seem. Let's just get it done with. When was the last official census, 1932?

Doha said...

Yes, the last official census was conducted in 1932. Are we ready however to know the "truth" about our demographics?

Hassan said...

well i know one thing, in every electoral zone, there are unrepresented minorities, if we are dividing along sectarian level. These amount to a couple hundred thousands. That's a lot, especially if we consider how few voters we have. that's the simplest (also most innocent?) arguement for a census.

Hassan said...

knowing all the demographics will be a step to enhancing the representation. of course i'm ignoring my opposition to the nature of the system.
when we get to a deconfessional system, what do u think of a "non-sectarian" census, basically how many lebanese are there? a bit too imaginative?

Raja said...

Hassan, you wrote the following:

"It really reached a point where I had to tell myself never to win by argument. At that point, a blog is very purpose-defeating."

To that statement, I just wish to say that the purpose of public debate (on a blog or any other forum, for that matter) is not necessarily to win or to loose. All you have to do is to present your argument to the reader, and allow the other party to do the same. Once the words are out there, leave it to the reader to decide which argument "wins" or "looses".

Moreover, do not get the impression that every response deserves a counter response. The reader should (and usually does) go back to your previous words as a means of comparison with the words of your "counterpart". That is why blogs are so usefull (as opposed to verbal debates). The words remain - however, the interaction is as intense as it gets.

I hope my point is well-taken.

Doha said...

I think your suggestion, Hassan, is a bit impossible. I mean take a look at the US; there are proposals put out from time to time to basically take out the racial categories in the never works. Our system is a bit the same in the sense that we cherish our plurality.

But to share an interesting point: the Indians during the colonial era did not identify themselves along sectarian lines until the British conducted the first census. I think the same goes for Lebanon and the French.

Hassan said...

raja, thanx for the note, but i was refering to the level of the discussion rather than its content. i used the expression that is closest to the state of realizing that a conversation is not worth the hassle anymore. chek the posts to know what i mean.

doha, u r right for the colonial era thing. which reminds me there are other striking examples of small groups of lebanese people of unaccounted-for sects (mostly packed within other sect) like baha'is being considered shia.