Prime Minister Designate: Cancel the Ministerial Rotation

If there is one person among the current political leaders who can make a decision, just for once, that will pay off in the face of this tragedy, it is Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam.(Photo: Marwan Tahtah)
Published Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Is it necessary to explain to those in charge of forming the Lebanese government that there is nothing to fight over?
Let us return to the beginning of the story, when everyone, in and outside Lebanon, was against Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government. Everyone raised some kind of political slogan to topple it. And then Walid Jumblatt set up his famous trap (he gave political justifications for what he did, or so he said) and Mikati took the bait and resigned.
All factions were up in arms that a government cannot be formed unless their political preconditions are met. After a while however – even though it took a relatively long time – the reality on the ground raised issues that take us back to the same old question. Who among the Lebanese political parties can live for a long time outside the governing power structure and without the bliss of public funds at their disposal?
March 14 raised the slogan that there can be no partnership with Hezbollah. The Lebanese party had to leave Syria, put a timetable to surrender its weapons, and hand over the men accused of Rafik Hariri’s assassination to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. There was a call to cut ties with Syria and expel the Syrian ambassador from Beirut and prevent the Iranian ambassador from leaving the confines of his office. Everyone had to accept that the basic sovereign ministries – interior, defense, and foreign – will be under their supervision.
As soon as Hezbollah sent a short SMS message expressing its willingness to participate in a balanced government with this high and mighty bunch, all political demands from Saad Hariri, the kingdom of oppression in the Arabian Peninsula, the almighty United States, and the racist French administration, went by the wayside.
For a moment there, everyone seemed to be confronted with a strange magic game. No one understood how the riddle was solved in minutes, and all sides came so close to reaching an understanding.
Suddenly, however, a new-old issue emerged that seems quite basic: the question of ministerial rotation. Everyone in and outside Lebanon who agreed to compromise politically was not concerned with political issues at all but with the issue of ministerial rotation.
At the center of the rotation issue is not the Defense Ministry, since the March 14 forces know that the Lebanese Armed Forces will not go to war with Hezbollah. It is not the Interior Ministry either; Hezbollah knows that it cannot change the priorities of the Information Branch’s agenda as part of a hostile security-political system. It is not even the Foreign Ministry in which Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour’s outcries are not enough to amend a line in regional and international statements written with Syrian and Iraqi blood. Nor is it the Finance Ministry, which everyone is running away from now that the treasury is empty. And it is not the Telecommunications Ministry that puts its programs on track and continues to divide the pie into two pieces, one exclusively for the March 14 forces and one to be shared with the March 8 forces.
What is left other than the Energy Ministry?
Since the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) joined the government, everyone talks about corruption, from Energy Minister Gebran Bassil’s wealth to General Michel Aoun’s family, to the interests of this person or that person from the FPM’s leadership within the state or on its margins. But none of the accusers have provided a single paper that puts Aoun and his team under suspicion.
Why would his adversaries cover up what indicts him if it were true? And then they wonder why Aoun is adamant about keeping the Energy Ministry. The real question is why do all the others, except for Hezbollah, insist on taking the Energy Ministry from Aoun?
We only have two options. Either all the members of the political class want to implement a US-Saudi decision to prevent Lebanon from joining the club of oil-producing countries, which makes it necessary to foil any attempt to extract oil or gas now that it has become hard for the insolent policeman (Israel) to enforce the decision in his usual ways. Or the political class has its own designs for the Energy Ministry and our untapped oil.
The truth is that we, the average and not so average people, have the right to raise suspicions around this bizarre insistence on taking the Energy Ministry from the FPM. Every prime minister who headed a cabinet in which Bassil was a minister said, “I can’t stand him but he is the most active minister.”
If there is one person among the current political leaders who can make a decision, just for once, that will pay off in the face of this tragedy, it is Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam.
We address him because we lost hope in the other governing partner, President Michel Suleiman whose thinking is limited to the confines of the presidential palace and his hometown of Amchit. And in both cases he put himself in rivalry and enmity (he likes to call it competition) with Aoun.
So we go back to Salam who lives an ordinary life. He is the closest to the general public, knowing that the country is on the brink and on the verge of more madness because of the barrage of suicide bombers and those behind them. It is not a joking matter, and even though the government will not address the issue, it will open the door to acceptable solutions.
We say to Salam briefly, end this game of ministerial rotation and form a government that helps to calm the situation. The alternative, either in a de facto government or a government that excludes Christians, will be like a car bomb that someone wants you to drive where it will blow up amidst the innocent people only.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
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