Analysts doubt Hariri will be able to form government.
Byline: Michael Bluhm
Summary: <p>Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's prospects appear even bleaker for forming a government in his second stint in the post, a number of analysts toldAa The Daily StarAa on Thursday.AaWith unaltered internal and external obstacles to creating a cabinet, Lebanon will likely endure a much longer wait for a new administration after the June general elections, said Hilal Khashan Hilal Khashan (born 1951, Beirut, Lebanon) is a leading Palestinian-American scholar of the Middle East and chair of the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut. .
BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's prospects appear even bleaker for forming a government in his second stint in the post, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Thursday.AaWith unaltered internal and external obstacles to creating a cabinet, Lebanon will likely endure a much longer wait for a new administration after the June general elections, said Hilal Khashan, head of the department of political studies and public administration at the American University of Beirut American University of Beirut, at Beirut, Lebanon; English language; chartered by New York State in 1866 as Syrian Protestant College, rechartered 1920 as the American Univ. of Beirut. .Aa
President Michel Sleiman renamed Hariri prime minister-designate on Wednesday, after the Future Movement chief was tabbed by 73 of Parliament's 128 deputies. Hariri had resigned the post on September 10 after fruitless cabinet talks lasting since June.Aa
"I don't see a cabinet being formed any time soon," he said. "I don't see it on the horizon. There is no reason to believe [Hariri] will succeed now where he failed before.Aa
"There is a domestic standoff, and there is a regional standoff."Aa
With the undiminished internal polarization between Lebanon's March 14 and March 8 political camps, as well as the unflinching Middle East deadlock pitting the US and its regional allies against Iran and Syria, the reappointment reappointment Hospital practice The renewal of medical staff membership and privileges of a practitioner whose previous service on the medical staff has met the staff's standard of Pt care. See Appointment. of Hariri as prime minister-designate only completes the impression that nothing has changed, said Habib Malek, who teaches history at Lebanese American University The Lebanese American University is an American institution chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York and operating in Lebanon. Currently, LAU has two campuses: one located in Beirut, and a second in the Mount Lebanon city of Jbeil (Byblos). and is the son of former Minister Charles MalekAa
"It's like Groundhog Day Groundhog Day
(February 2) In the U.S., the day that the groundhog predicts whether spring will be coming soon. If, on emerging from his hole, he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if not, spring is imminent. ," he said. "It's back to square one."Aa
In Lebanon the most prominent conflict has centered on the reappointment of caretaker Telecommunications Minister Jebran Bassil of the March 8's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM FPM - Fast Page Mode Dynamic Random Access Memory ), and this hurdle only looms larger because Hariri and FPM head MP Michel Aoun Michel Naim Aoun (Arabic: ميشال عون) (born 19 february 1935 in Haret Hreik, Lebanon) is a Lebanese military commander and politician. refused to budge on the matter during Hariri's first round as premier-designate, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame Notre Dame IPA: [nɔtʁ dam] is French for Our Lady, referring to the Virgin Mary. In the United States of America, Notre Dame University.Aa
"It's more difficult than before," he said.Aa
Hariri "will not be able to form the government. It's going to take a long period of time.Aa
"There's no politics in Lebanon today because nobody is ready to make a compromise."Aa
The cabinet vacuum will persist also because Sleiman has not yet been able to live up to his frequent pledges to serve as a non-partisan figure capable of achieving consensus between rival factions, Hanna added.Aa
For his part, Hariri has been lengthening the odds of settling on a government by sounding a less conciliatory con·cil·i·ate
v. con·cil·i·at·ed, con·cil·i·at·ing, con·cil·i·ates
1. To overcome the distrust or animosity of; appease.
2. tone in his comments since resigning, although his first unsuccessful crack at cabinet formation has only left him in a less advantageous negotiating position, said Malek.Aa
"He's weaker than he was the first time around, but he seems to be upping the ante with his rhetoric," Malek added. "He hasn't even started yet, and he has a track record of failure."Aa
Hariri's defiant posture might also serve as an attempt to preempt pre·empt or pre-empt
v. pre·empt·ed, pre·empt·ing, pre·empts
1. To appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. See Synonyms at appropriate.
a. any March 8 calculations of his weakness by demonstrating that Hariri remains March 14's unquestioned leader and that the March 14 coalition stands as unanimously as ever behind him, said Hanna. March 14 had been thoroughly rattled by the defection of Progressive Socialist Party The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) (Arabic "الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي" al-hizb al-taqadummi al-ishtiraki head MP Walid Jumblatt Walid Jumblatt (Arabic: وليد جنبلاط) (born August 7, 1949) is the current leader of the Progressive Socialist Party "PSP" of Lebanon and the most prominent leader of the Druze community. shortly after the June vote.Aa
"It is like a reassertion of March 14 unity," Hanna said. Hariri "proved that he still represents the majority. He showed that the majority is still a majority, despite Jumblatt."Aa
However, the deeper chasm preventing government formation might stem less from Hariri's strength relative to Aoun and Bassil than from the historically continuous efforts by the country's Maronites and Shiites -- who make up the core of the March 8 alliance -- to chip away at the power of Lebanon's Sunnis, said Khashan. Since the declaration of Greater Lebanon Greater Lebanon: see Lebanon. in 1920 the Maronites and Shiites have cooperated against the Sunnis -- for example, in 1969 Shiite Imam Moussa Sadr founded the Higher Shiite Council in the Christian-majority area of Hazmieh in East Beirut rather than in Sunni-dominated West Beirut, Khashan added.Aa
Aoun has followed the tradition by trying to empower the post of deputy prime minister A Deputy Prime Minister or Vice Prime Minister is, in some countries, a government minister who can take the position of acting Prime Minister when the real Prime Minister is temporarily absent. -- a Greek Orthodox -- at the expense of the Sunni prime minister, whose authority grew markedly in the 1989 Taif Accord which ended the 1975-90 Civil War, Khashan said.Aa
"I don't think the domestic hurdle to the formation of the cabinet can be explained by the appointment of Jebran Bassil to the Telecommunications Ministry," Khashan said. "The issue is deeper than one portfolio here and another portfolio there. The issue is the office of the prime minister. This is the real issue."Aa
On the regional level, Syria's deteriorating relations with the US represent the main hindrance to forming a government, the analysts said. Damascus is holding up the cabinet formation because it feels it received little quid pro quo [Latin, What for what or Something for something.] The mutual consideration that passes between two parties to a contractual agreement, thereby rendering the agreement valid and binding. from Washington in exchange for helping ensure smooth elections in Lebanon Elections in Lebanon gives information on election and election results in Lebanon. Parliamentary electoral system
Lebanon's national legislature is called the Assembly of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwab in Arabic). and slowing the flow of fighters from Syria into Iraq, Khashan said. Worsening Syrian-US relations have become manifest in the rise in instability in Iraq and the recent surge in attention on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an international criminal court that was established by the United Nations Security Council on May 30, 2007. 
The tribunal is mandated to try those suspected of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who , Hanna said.Aa
Absent progress in Syrian-US relations, Lebanon should not expect a new cabinet, Malek said.Aa
"I don't see this thing getting resolved purely internally," he said. "Syria-US relations have soured recently, over Iraq. If things improve on that front, then suddenly a Lebanese government will be formed. As long as US-Syrian relations are not good, things here will remain more or less stagnant. The opposition will be instructed to obstruct.Aa
"There are problems beyond here that tend to affect Lebanon, in that it becomes one of the bargaining chips."Aa
Another problem prolonging the cabinet vacuum is the unsettled US-Iran showdown, the analysts said. The US and Iran have agreed to meet on October 1, while Hanna said Thursday's announcement that the US was abandoning its proposed missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland could well represent a US concession to Russia in order to secure Russian cooperation in pressuring Iran.Aa
Against this shared background, Tehran and Damascus can find common ground to extend the protracted pro·tract
tr.v. pro·tract·ed, pro·tract·ing, pro·tracts
1. To draw out or lengthen in time; prolong: disputants who needlessly protracted the negotiations.
2. government vacuum in Lebanon in order to extract future gains by enabling a government to finally arise, Khashan said.Aa
"Here you have a rare point where these two countries' interests have converged over the issue of Lebanon," he said. "It is in [their] best interest to stall the formation of the cabinet in Lebanon until they get a better deal," he said. "I don't see the formation of the cabinet before some lingering regional issues are resolved or are put on the path toward resolution."
Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.
Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company