Descent to bottom

File - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks on a TV screen during an Iftar in BIEL in Beirut, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

For those Lebanese who continue to follow the comedy of errors that is the Cabinet formation process, each day is dizzying. People wake up to news bulletins and flashes proclaiming the official announcement is imminent, only to see the optimism vanish by day’s end – or, the excitement builds in the evening, but disappears the following morning.

The obstructionists in the March 8 camp might say they’re engaged in hard-knuckles bargaining to protect their interests, but they have only shown themselves to be anxious about protecting a debilitating status quo in the executive branch.

After former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and March 14 offered significant concessions in the interest of Lebanon, March 8 has only played for time, and offered obstacle after obstacle in return.

March 14’s willingness to compromise wasn’t a popular decision with the group’s supporters, but it has been adhered to. In contract, March 8 politicians are demonstrating that developments outside the country – in Geneva meeting-rooms, Syrian battlefields or elsewhere – are the ultimate factor in breaking any stalemate. With things in flux, March 8’s lack of interest in forming a government is evident to all, as it comes up with “reservations” about this or that name proposed for a Cabinet portfolio.

The pessimists who said March 8 had no interest in forming a government are being proved increasingly correct. And with every passing day, the credibility of March 8 politicians sinks lower. The only “excitement” in this race to the bottom involves the question of who is losing more: the people of Lebanon or the politicians who continue to block their path to a better future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 15, 2014, on page 7.




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