Lebanon Turmoil
Photo via wikimedia.org

The Lebanese Prime Minister finally sends his resignation to President Michael Owen after a series of intense protests. Prime Minister Hariri says the resignation will be a blow to the country. Before his resignation, Saad Hariri also contacted President Michael Aoun and Hezbollah. These contacts, however, did not bring any benefit to Hariri.
Resignation does not mean that Saad Hariri will disappear from politics. In government circles, his influence will be sustained to some extent. Political analysts say that Saad Hariri will work to review the deal with his Future Movement and the Hizballah Free Patriot Alliance. Following the 2016 deal with the alliances mentioned above, the presidency was cleared for Michael Aoun.
This is not the first time with Saad Hariri. In 2011, Hezbollah and the ministers of the Free Patriotic Movement resigned while he was visiting the United States. As a result, the government of Saad Hariri could not sustain its majority, and a new government was formed under the leadership of Najib Mukti.
This time, however, the reasons for his resignation were different. Lebanese protesters demand that a new government is comprising technocrats be formed. However, political leadership does not want that. Demonstrators say politicians’ governments have plunged the Lebanese economy, which has led to an unprecedented rise in unemployment, poverty, and inflation.
Demonstrators also have reservations on the political deal of 2016. The deal resulted in political and security stability in Lebanon. After this deal, however, a communal-based government came into being. In such governments, accountability becomes weaker and ineffective. People in government worry more about saving their government than running the country.
Saad Hariri, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt and Lebanese forces chief Sameer Geagea want to change in the deal. All three chiefs want President Aoun’s son-in-law and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassel to retire. Jibran Bassil is facing severe criticism because of his harsh attitude. Experts say that Bassil promotes divisive politics.
Hezbollah and Michael Aoun were insistent on keeping Bassil as Foreign Minister. However, some family issues caused an apparent change in Michael Aoun’s position over the past few years. Two of President Aoun’s three daughters believe that oppression is damaging their family image. Hezbollah demanded that Bassil be retained if Hariri stays in the prime minister’s office.
Hariri thinks that his resignation will put the entire burden on Hezbollah and Michael Aoun. Now President will start consultations with the parliamentary forces to announce the new prime minister. Constituting a cabinet is a time-consuming process in Lebanon. Choosing the cabinet members will also require to sooth the protesters.
On their part, Hezbollah and allies can mandate Hariri to constitute the new cabinet. Then it will be the responsibility of Hariri or the new prime minister to maintain a balance between Hezbollah-FPM and the angry protesters. Hezbollah believes that a new technocratic set up will go for fresh elections, which may result in ending the dominance of the organization.
In an alternate solution, Hariri, Hezbollah, and Aoun can go for another political settlement. This settlement will result in the removal of controversial ministers like Gebran Bassil and few others. Furthermore, the political settlement will include some reforms. Some technocrats can also be inducted in the new cabinet. However, it will depend upon protesters whether they accept such a deal or not.
In another option, Hezbollah can win the confidence of parliament and will suggest the name of the new prime minister to replace Hariri. The new prime minister will form a technocratic cabinet after taking confidence from Hariri and Hezbollah. However, both Hariri and Hezbollah will never accept a cabinet that they cannot control.
These are the possible scenarios of Lebanese politics. Only the future will tell what Lebanon wants. We can hope for political stability in Lebanon.

Related: Hezbollah warns of chaos. Will Lebanon have a civil war?

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