President Michel Aoun was the first to warn of the political scene that emerged out of the street protests and expressed his readiness to make ministerial reshuffling but later changed his stance, political sources close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The political source noted that the Director-General of the General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, had informed Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Aoun had no objection to discussing the cabinet reshuffling. But the president changed his position due to several factors, including the protesters’ rejection of the reform plan announced by Hariri.
According to the source, Aoun conducted a second reading of the popular movement, which came in contrast to his initial impression of this movement. He saw that external agendas were pushing the demonstrators to rebuff Hariri’s paper and continue their movement.
Other factors have made the president abandon the option of ministerial reshuffling, mainly the removal of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, which would weaken the presidency, according to the source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Another reason is Hezbollah, which considered that there was no justification, at least in the foreseeable future, for involving the country in a ministerial reshuffle.
Moreover, Hezbollah - according to the political source - believes that the mere approval on removing Bassil would constitute a blow to Aoun.
As for Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the political source said that he was avoiding being drawn into a sectarian problem and insisted on understanding with his ally, Hezbollah, to block the way for those who are expecting disagreements within the Shiite duo.
All these facts combined were studied by Hariri, who objected to a call for the Supreme Defense Council to convene in order to request the army to open roads. He was also opposed to holding an emergency meeting of the Central Security Council, out of his conviction that the problem was political par excellence and that security solutions were useless.
As for the political settlement that brought Aoun to the presidency, the political source said it has become outdated.
The tenure is now in trouble, according to the source, who noted that any government of “one color” that would “retaliate” to the street movement, would face rejection and objection at the local, Arab, and international levels.