The struggle to produce a policy statement by the members of Lebanon’s government is threatening to do away with all of the relief that resulted when Prime Minister Tammam Salam and a new Cabinet team were finally able to take up their duties.
By allowing the dispute over the policy statement to drag on, certain politicians are behaving cavalierly with Lebanon’s short- and medium-term future.
They are acting as if the government won’t resign in a few short months because of an upcoming presidential election. They are acting as if Lebanon has all the time and resources in the world to deal with having a million Syrian refugees on its territory. They are acting as if the security threat is something that doesn’t require the presence of a fully functioning executive branch of government.
It’s very simple: the Salam government must handle several critically important issues, such as the economy and security. It must also ensure that the presidential election goes smoothly and, ideally, prepare a new parliamentary election law for polls scheduled later this year. And by failing to settle the policy statement impasse, politicians risk plunging the country into the unknown.
When it was finally formed, the Salam government was an example of “less is more.” No one wants it to promise the Lebanese the world; it has only a short window of opportunity to act, and leave behind a positive legacy. And after the monthslong struggle over the formation of the Cabinet, every day – or even every hour – lost to needless bickering over the policy statement is valuable.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 12, 2014, on page 7.