Those who follow Lebanese and Syrian affairs closely were probably unsurprised Wednesday when Lebanon’s foreign minister, Adnan Mansour, managed to become an item of “regional news.”
Those who follow Lebanese and Syrian affairs closely have noticed Mansour in the past, usually thanks to his out-of-tune statements and behavior. Wednesday, it was the turn of the Arab world’s leading satellite stations to feature shots of Mansour, speaking at an Arab League meeting in Cairo, as he, unsurprisingly, put his foot in his mouth on a regional stage.
Mansour spoke about the League’s series of resolutions and statements on Syria’s crisis, seemingly linking them to the failure of any solution and talking about the ongoing bloodshed in the same breath. This drew a prompt rebuke from Qatar’s foreign minister, who asked whether Mansour meant the Arab League was to blame for people being killed by the Syrian regime.
Mansour also requested that Syria be reinstated into the League, which received a similar, negative reaction.
Mansour’s performance as foreign minister could be considered sound, if he happened to be the chief diplomat of the Syrian regime, and not the Lebanese state.
But in point of fact he happens to serve in the government of Lebanon, and has spent his time making statements about places such as Syria, Iraq and Iran that do not fall under the agreed-upon policy of the Cabinet, and do not serve Lebanon’s national interests.
In the past, he has been tasked with relaying certain messages of protest from President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati to Damascus, over Syrian violations of Lebanese sovereignty. Mansour not only fails to send the messages across the border, but is also fearful of raising them with Syria’s envoy in Lebanon.
Instead, he uses the podium at the Lebanese Foreign Ministry to pass judgment on Lebanon and its Cabinet.
Mikati said earlier this week he was the one authorized to speak for the government, and that the government’s policy was one of disassociation. Shortly thereafter, Mansour acted directly against these guidelines.
Gulf Cooperation Council countries have expressed their irritation with Beirut’s inability to observe its policy of disassociation, prompting Sleiman to reassure them, and shortly thereafter, Mansour wrecks this effort.
Mikati’s Cabinet is one of unity by default, and the country’s credibility suffers because of it. There are multiple premiers, each with his own agenda, and when there is unity, it is only to ensure the government’s survival.
The absurdity of this Cabinet, whose policies represent a wish list and not a coherent set of measures, must end promptly to spare the country further embarrassment and damage. It is one thing to have different views within a government, but having different policies on a given issue is pointless, and ultimately destructive.