Governing by threat

File - Prime Minister designate Tammam Salam speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra)

There isn’t much to puzzle over when it comes to the impasse over forming a new government in Lebanon. The March 14 and March 8 camps each have their demands and conditions for moving forward, while President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam have their points of view on what should occur.

But the March 8 camp, led by Hezbollah, has set itself apart from the other players by relying on a policy of threats and ultimatums. They are made openly, or hinted at, but they add up to the following message: No government will be formed without the party’s approval, “or else ...”

There is room for principle in politics, but all sides must consider the world around them. If Hezbollah and its allies are dead set against any compromise on Cabinet, they should be energetic and savvy enough to understand this isn’t the end of the story. They should be creative enough to realize a compromise or compromises must be then made on other fronts to keep the political process alive. They should also realize their rhetorical campaign – bad things will happen in Lebanon if a Cabinet is formed without our approval – loses some of its impact because bad things are already happening in Lebanon.

March 8’s rigidity on the Cabinet issue is further highlighted by the momentous events and challenges Lebanon faces. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will finally start its proceedings this month, which is also set to witness the “Geneva II” talks, to which Lebanon has been invited.

Lebanon must deal with the Syrian crisis, a deteriorating economy and presidential polls in May, to name just a few challenges. Does the political faction intent on blocking Cabinet formation have any answers to these grave issues, or does it expect to merely govern by issuing threats?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 08, 2014, on page 7.




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