Lebanon: Presidential Election and Foreign Intervention

Lebanon is now in its fifth month without a president. The chairman of the parliament has postponed the election date for the 15th time so far. In Lebanon, the parliament, which is made up of 128 elected representatives, should meet to elect the president of the republic. This has not happened yet.

The chairman of the parliament has declared that the government is unconstitutional and can not be present at any parliamentary assembly. The government, appointed by the president, as the constitution stipulates, was made up of 30 ministers who represented most of the political groups.

Five ministers from the opposition resigned months ago but their resignations have not yet been officially accepted. These, in addition to the assassination of Minister Pierre Gemayel, rendered the government short of its original political representation.

The prime minister has refused to acknowledge the calls by the opposition to resign and has declared that he will do so only when a new president is elected. With both the opposition and the government being supported by opposing regional and international powers, no solution seems possible until these powers agree to a solution or a compromise.

Political bickering between different parties has reached dangerous levels to the extent that there is a genuine fear of civil strife among people – especially since street fights are breaking out every now and then between supporters of various groups.

Two bloggers have written about the foreign intervention and influence on the presidential election:

In the Middle of the East writes about the visit of Samir Geagea, the president of the Lebanese Forces Party, to the United States and sees that he may be the White House’s new choice for a Lebanese president:

Samir Geagea, leader of the extreme rightwing christian Lebanese Forces, convicted for 4 separate assassinations including a Lebanese prime minister and rival christian leader Danny Chamoun, whose entire family was wiped out with him, is a man with probably more assassinations and war crimes on his conscience than anybody else in this country where war criminals are not exactly lacking. Yet when he visited the ‘you’re either with us or with the terrorists’ crew at the White House, he was warmly received by everybody on the Middle Eastern department there, all the way up to Rice. One man’s terrorist seems to be another man’s freedom fighter indeed.

[…] Franklin Lamb makes a lot of this visit (here on Counterpunch), and implies that Geagea might be the White House’s new favorite for the presidential post.

Jeha’s Nail worries at the sight of the Lebanese politicians going out of the country to get support for their political pursuit from regional and international powers. A support that will make them pawns in the regional chess game:

It is a worrying spectacle to see our local politicians travel the globe, scurrying around to meet the great and (not so) good of the world, and earn their support. The worry has to do with our country's current dynamics…
In normal countries, all this travelling and visiting is carried out “in house”. In their quest to reach ultimate “Alpha Male” status, politicians jaw-jaw with local power-brokers, shake a few hands, talk up some ravenous crowds into frenzies of support, or smooch a few uncooperative babies.
In Lebanon, their traveling and visiting is carried out “extra muro”. In their quest to reach ultimate “Alpha Male” status, Lebanese politicians jaw-jaw with regional power-brokers, kiss a few hands (or worse), bribe some local ravenous crowds into frenzies of support, or display a few dead babies.
[…] In the absence of a stabilizing effect of the state, someone has to pay to maintain the country’s internal power equilibrium. Yet, since the Zombies of the “Inner Parties” have little value economically, the “Proles” cannot afford to fund such social parasitism.
So the support can only be external, and each leader has to find patrons to support this political addiction. To a certain extent, all our politicians become pawns in the regional chess game. They can at best try to be opportunistic.

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