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".
- 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.)
- 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.