Politicians under fire on Beirut streets

September 16th, 2009 | Posted in Beirut, Lebanon
    Daily Star by Omar Katerji, Wednesday, September 16, 2009


    Photo: Apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon.

BEIRUT: Saad Hariri’s resignation has once again drawn attention to the state of Lebanese politics. For many, the Future Movement leader’s resignation is a gesture designed to draw attention to the failure of the main political players’ ability to form a unity government within Lebanon. Hariri stepped down as prime minister-designate on Thursday after the Hizbullah-led opposition rejected his latest attempt at forming a unity government.

This move was seen by many as a response to the recent deadlock between the various political groups.

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Michel Aoun’s recent declaration that his party would not re-nominate the Future Movement leader has added to the growing rift between the shifting political alliances.

Saad Hariri responded in a statement on Sunday that any parties refusing to support his re-designation would, in turn, be left out of plans to form the new unity government.

“Hariri hopes that by getting re-appointed he can strengthen his position to force the opposition to accept his proposals for a unity government,” said Ahmad, a 57-year-old shoe polisher on the streets of Beirut.

“We lost our country when we lost [former Premier]Rafik Hariri. His son Saad is not ready to govern us. Every party is pulling the country in different directions and Hariri doesn’t have the strength to unify us.”

Many people on the bustling streets of Beirut share in Ahmad’s pessimism.

Diva, a 22-year-old student agreed, saying: “Politicians are stubborn, they spend too long fighting over sectarian divisions and they cannot see how it is affecting the Lebanese people.”

This opinion was shared by another student, who added: “The problems will keep going and nothing will change [because our politicians are driven by personal benefit and are split along sectarian lines. We need overall reform and renewal, which has to come from the younger generations.”

Ali, a 29-year-old Hizbullah supporter believes that “the March 14 alliance are not convinced by Hariri’s leadership and he must sort out the internal divisions between the Christian parties before he is able to successfully form a unified government coalition.

“Hariri has shown great weakness, unlike his father, and has not received the international support he desired to force the hands of the other political powers,” Ali added. He concluded: “Lebanon cannot be run by one color.”

Imad, a 52-year-old Future Movement supporter was less critical of Hariri.

“His resignation is a strategic move designed to strengthen his position, he wants to form a strong government and retain the share of power. He believes this is his right according to the Taif Accord,” he said.

Imad warned that Lebanon was in danger of another civil war “unless the factions can unite,” adding: “Hariri needs to find the strength to form a government that pleases the majority, yet still retains the power for the March 14 alliance. Saudi Arabia and Syria are at a standstill and this needs to be broken for the sake of Lebanese independence.”

With the recent rocket attacks on Israel from the south, some see this as a warning to Hariri of things to come if the deadlock is not broken soon.

“Some people are sending a warning to Hariri that if the balance of power is not restored by peace, some are willing to plunge the country back into war to see that balance restored,” Imad said.

The difference of opinion seems varied among the Lebanese population, unfortunately however, they all seem united in their pessimism for positive progression, at least for the foreseeable future.

All eyes now lay on the results of the political consultations to re-designate a prime minster elect. Whatever the result, the growing rift between the factions seems a long way from being resolved.

Leave a comment

Upcoming events