Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An Ultimatum In The Works

Sources say that Seniora has drafted his resignation statement and folded it neatly next to his bed. He is heading tomorrow at 9:00AM to Baabda Palace to hear Lahoud's decision on his proposed Ministerial lineup. He knows that Lahoud will say "No" and so Seniora has another paper hidden somewhere safely in a secret pocket in his jacket, a proposal for a small government made up of Technocrats to help salvage our country.

Either this proposal or the resignation statement!

I cannot say that he did not try. Seniora did. He moved from a 24-member lineup to 30 in the hope that this move would erase some obstacles, only to find out that same night that more obstacles surfaced.

According to Assafir, sources from Seniora's close circle claimed the following in response to the Hizbullah/Amal's bloc reservations(literal translation): "Hizbullah/Amal's bloc have taken away from Aoun and Lahoud the most important portfolios in the government and we don't know what they need more, and we don't know why they are complaining about bringing in MP Ghazi Youssef (from FM) and their insistence on monopolozing the Shiite representation, especially that the Future Movement has left a Sunni seat for someone outside of the Movement, MP Mohammad Safadi."

The sources continued, "It's true that there is an electoral alliance between the Hariri bloc and Hizbullah/Amal grounded on a certain political basis, however their popular representation/mandate differs from ours, and we are not sure if our agreement will last or if the stands will change at a later stage depending on the issues that will be tabled in the government. Therefore, this pushes us to hold on to the 2/3 of the government without this necessarily meaning distrust." The sources also added that "there is no need to consult Berri prior to the formation of the government because this can be misconstrued as breaking with the division of powers."

Readers, this is very important information that Seniora's sources are claiming, which shapes the relationship between FM and Hizbullah/Amal.

As for Aoun's stands with regards to the lineup, MP Hariri, (again based on Assafir so I would not be accused of being biased), said, "It seems that there are some allies of Aoun who do not wish that Aoun cooperates with me and I cooperate with him."

Now Aoun yesterday said something that struck all of the Lebanese media today, which I only touched on in my previous post, namely his declaration that his bloc and Hizbullah/Amal's form the 2/3 of the country and they have the right (emphasis on "right") to have representation in the government based on the principle of 1/3 + 1 Minister (basically, to assume the majority).

This talk is indeed interesting. Then can someone tell me why did not Aoun and Hizbullah/Amal ally in the first place? Why did we have elections then? I thought the Hariri bloc assumed a popular majority? Where did that go? Granted that Aoun's bloc might feel that it was not consulted before increasing the number from 24 Ministers to 30, but when Aoun starts talking about that his bloc and HA/Amal's need to assume the majority, I believe we're truely in another story here.

Berri, on the other hand, has said across the phone lines from Algeria that he not only asks for six Shiites from the Hizbullah/Amal bloc to be represented, but to also add MP Samir Azar, a Maronite Berri-ally. Sadly enough, he was set to arrive to Lebanon today but decided to stop over Geneva for two days and return home on Friday (he can vacation and send his orders by phone!)

Meanwhile, the vacuum continues and in this vacuum terror reigns and blockades rule the day. And with the vacuum we're starting to see old political faces being resuscitated (the likes of Arslan and Franjieh) who might just have another chance at becoming Ministers if all fails tomorrow.

Perhaps Jumblatt was right when he said that 120 members of Parliament out of 126 voting in Seniora as the PM-elect was a "trap". A trap to get him in, so all could see how the Hariri bloc will fail once more, erasing with it the hopes of March 14.

Will Lahoud work with Seniora? Does he want him in the first place? Again, I ask, where is our Lebanon heading?....I don't want to see tomorrow.

UPDATE: Lahoud agreed to have a 24-member government made up of Technocrats formed. Naharnet reports that Seniora looked relieved as I believe this is what he wanted initially, namely picking those most qualified for the portfolios away from drowning in the sea of parochial politics and sectarianism.

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


Anonymous said...

I missed the reason for why the number of ministers was upped from 24 to 30?
What were the reasons or problems being resolved?
It seemed to me that it pissed all the concerned parties but I admit I have not been following things too closely the last couple of days to know why it was made!

acrobat said...

i have read the interview with aoun at the website, and he merely says "there is no deal with Amal/HA, just a convergence of interests" [i.e. that neither wants to see the hariri block have irreversible carte blanche in crucial issues and decisions in thess dangerous times. their agendas are way too different for them to ally] "-don't forget that together we represent 2/3 of the country". according to the detailed voting figures that is true, and the FPM would have won many more seats to the detriment of Jumblat baabda/alay if it were not for the 2000 election law and the shia votes going to jumblat's allies.
aoun is being reasonable by accepting the actual global results of the votes and requesting a number of ministers proportional to his MPs. the bottom line is, and he is being very clear: either do a *REAL* national consensus government, or do a *REAL* majority government. don't try to sell us a majority government dressed up as a national consensus one, because this will only mean you get full credit when things go right, and you blame everyone else when things go wrong, i.e. not your way. if you want us in the government, we want to be able to make a difference to major decisions. otherwise, let us stay out and retain our integrity and our right to judge you if and when you mess up.

crystal clear to me.

PS> looking at the new 24-technocrat decision that was surprisingly accepted by lahoud (unless he blocks it later based on the names), one wonders if the whole shenanigans of the last few days were not designed specifically by siniora & cie to blow up all notion of a national consensus, MP-based government, particularly, it feels like they played a masterly game in using aoun as an excuse to get away from giving hizbulla all they asked for. if this scenario goes through, then i think hariri and aoun would come out both with what they wanted since the beginning, one with a majority government, the other with a clean opposition stance.

Mustapha said...

So suppose Aoun/Hizbullah/Amal have the one third of the government.

Do you think that this will help the shiit coalition if the government decides to disarm Hizballah?

I can say with a fair amount of certitude that Hizballah and Amal would not like to share the 1/3 almou3attel with Aoun, simply because of 1559

ThinkingMan said...

Guys...we are confusing the 1/3 and the 2/3 statements.
Aoun was saying that he and Amal/Hezb needed to have the "minority 1/3" which means 11 seats, not 10. this is necessary because 1/3 can veto resolutions in the Council of Ministers.
From Naharnet:
"There is a game to control the two thirds," Aoun told An Nahar, asserting that "there is a conversion of interests, not an accord, between us and Hizbullah and Amal. Amongst us we constitute one third of the nation. Nevertheless we are not allowed to get the subversive one third of the cabinet."

Anonymous said...

Thinkingdude, You are missing Lahoud's demand for his own ministers! That would leave FM and co with less than 50%!

Doha said...


Actually it's funny that got it wrong when translating. According to's sources, Aoun said (and I did write about it in my previous post) that there are three blocs that represent Lebanon: Aoun's bloc, the Hariri bloc, and the HA/Amal bloc. Which translates to: that both Aoun's bloc and that of HA/Amal represent the 2/3. It's simple calculation.

As for the "subversive one-third" in the government, I fixed it in the post; it was a mistake. Aoun was asking to have the 1/3+1, not 2/3+1.

ThinkingMan said...

I was referring to the 1/3-2/3 discussions.
(let's not call each other names- am not your dude unless i knew you)

We know that Lahoud's games are the reason for this mess. He doesn't deserve any seats in the government. His role is to ensure there is a confessional/sectarian balance that can win a majority in parliament, NOT to intefere and impose his own ministers.
Hezb/Amal & Aoun have the rights to ask for a proportional representation. Lahoud doesn't. He is a rubber stamp, and a bad one for that matter. He hasn't even apologized to the Lebanese people for his years of being sold to Syria, and he's pretending as if nothing happened?

IF Hariri/Seniora were more prescient about this, they should have told Aoun from day 1: Look buddy, we're doing you a favor, you get 2 seats, not 4. And they could have told Hezb/Amal: Look, 1559 is a pain in the ass- you're getting 3 seats until it passes.... whatever.

Doha said...


I agree and perhaps this is why HA/Amal did not comment on Aoun's statement yesterday about their convergence of interests; Amal actually distanced itself by talking about their reservations towards the government (without mentioning Aoun).

ThinkingMan said...

Doha- we're ok then on the 1/3 + 1; that was my focus.

As for 24 technocrats, still- I ask why 24?
Why not 12 ???? The US has a smaller government than Lebanon!!

hummbumm said...

Because of course we need a minister of sport, of information, and the best ministers without portfolios. That would be like having the secretary of nothing, what do you do, nothing, I attend cabinet meetings.

Anonymous said...

"what do you do, nothing, I attend cabinet meetings."

-- and i get paid for it.

Anonymous said...

Apologies thinkingman, I was trying to inject some humour into this. The central government has more power and jurisdiction in Lebanon than the US and hence the larger cabinet.

ThinkingMan said...

RE:"The central government has more power and jurisdiction in Lebanon than the US and hence the larger cabinet. "
I think we are getting off topic, but that's a pretty weak excuse in my opinion. Is this why- with all that control and power, they can give us such good security and investigative skills into these bombings?
Control over what? Corruption?
You do have a great sense of humor!