A Lebanese Abroad

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Are We Expecting Too Much from the Parliament?

On the heels of Michael Young’s excellent analysis on the causes and effects of George Hawi’s assassination, I re-drew the list of challenges facing Lebanon from my previous blog Holding Their Feet to the Fire, and categorized them into a Difficult and an Easier pile. Upon reviewing that list, what struck me was that the Lebanese Parliament may be holding much of the powers necessary to enact most of these changes. And I wonder if we are not expecting too much from such Parliament given its appearance in what Michael Young describes as the "Syrian-led system minus the Syrians" and I previously called it "same old system without Syrians".

What’s difficult:
- Hezbollah’s fate, arms and position (Hot potato)
- Abolition of confessionalism (Boiling potato)
- Abolition of sectarian politics (Very Hot potato)
- Relations with Israel (Hot potato, might cool down quickly depending on Syria)
- Ending corruption (They all talk about it, wash their hands from it and treat it as if it only happens to others but not them. It’s a complex labyrinth with many hot potatoes along the way.)

What’s easier:
- Providing security (it’s a cornerstone for the economy but is gridlocked by on-the- ground reforms)
- Changing the electoral law (the debates will be heated, but it boils down to a known outcome)
- Replacing the President (Just as they voted to extend his mandate, they could shorten it)
- Not re-electing Berri (It’s all in their hands)
- Normalizing relations with Syria (Debates will start there to define them)
- Re-jolting the economy, tourism and construction (An effective Parliament sends the right messages of confidence to the world and improves the macro-economic factors which have been low)
- Lowering the debt (The Prime Minister could take the lead (as Hariri did), but it will take more than creative financing schemes which just delay the problem)
- Freeing Geagea (A very easy matter, perhaps their first vote)

So does it look like we are expecting too much from the Lebanese Parliament?

Are the MPs going to become Super Parliamentarians overnight and pass whatever is “logical” versus whatever is compromised upon (as in the past)?

Will the (next) Prime Minister be strong enough to take ownership of some of these issues and drive them, or will he/she “keep their hands off” these hot potatoes?

Are we going to be content by keeping an isolated President for 2 more years where he is certain to continue his lame duck record?

And are we going to fall into Berri’s hyper muscular machinations and keep him because he was a “great Speaker”, according to this nauseating defense of his record that appeared today in The Daily Star, penned on his behalf by Bilal Charara, General Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Lebanese National Assembly?

Doing what is easy is necessary, but not sufficient.
Doing what’s difficult will define Lebanon’s future.


Blogger Charles Malik said...

The main problem is that all the institutions in Lebanon are linked to each other. the only semi-independent entity is the Army.

The ministers are pretty much all members of parliament or their best friends.

The Interior Ministry should be monitoring corruption.

Sadly, Lebanese do not unite around these institutions. Regardless of who is president of the US, the IRS will work properly and so will the FBI and CIA. It's not that way in Lebanon.
Mahmoud Hammoud's Foreign Ministry can't tell you the location of the Ethiopian consulate. His predecessor's administration could.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Cedar-Guardian said...

I don't expect much of this parliament, because all what its main groups have always worked for is the achievement of political profits- not benefits for the whole country.

The easy steps you listed will be implemented as long as they are in line with the agendas and interests of the big guns or the so-called quadripartite coalition (Berri-Nasrallah-Hariri-Jumblatt). They will use some of those small steps to enhance their positions (like coming with a president of their own instead of Lahoud if they can, and keeping Berri where he is), while they will also use others to "buy" some political groups and make sure they will not oppose their plans (eg: "buying" the LF by Samir Geagea's question).

As for the big steps, i see that the local guns have not much to say about those. These are mostly left for international agendas unlike what all groups declare about ( for example) Hezbollah's weapons as a local issue etc..

All this sad scene is the fruit of the 2000 unfair law which was implemented on purpose to ensure the hegemony of Hariri, Berri and co. Instead of continuously asking for Lahoud's departure; real opposition would have made everything to counter the undemocratic behavior of Berri when he kept the 2000 law. Rather, thay will give him a present next tuesday.
Definitely, the whole politics of this country are linked to personal/group interests; no one really works for Lebanon as a whole. And that's not what our great martyrs wanted...

9:27 AM  
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

You all make the right points which makes me think:
Alla yester Libnan w yesterna!
(Translation: May God have mercy on Lebanon and on us)

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:01 PM  
Blogger Alain said...

I, personally am so disgusted by our politicians and their get rich schemes, i don't give a f... anymore.


6:24 AM  

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