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A Government of Masks and a Hunger Revolution

A Government of Masks and a Hunger Revolution

Saturday, 28 December, 2019 - 12:45

Finally, the end of the catastrophic race. Who gets there first in Lebanon? A technocratic government pulled out of the hats of political wizards and "Your orders, sir"? Or an economic and livelihoods crisis that could bring a storm that destroys the country and drag it to checkpoints again? Which is worse?

On Christmas, President Michel Aoun visited Bkerke and promised a new government within days. This does not necessarily mean a change in the direction of crisis, especially when, at the same time, the caretaker Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil accused banks of holding employees' salaries and not paying them in full. This fueled popular rage in the country, especially with fears of the state being unable to pay its employees their wages in the next few months.

Before elaborating on the Hunger Revolution that is knocking on doors, that was warned against by General Joseph Aoun a few days earlier saying that the army will not face a hungry people, let us briefly discuss the comic government and politics.

First, in terms of the shape and form of the strong government and what is being said of it in a mix of fascinating contradictions. Second, in terms of the violent war of statements and angry accusations that broke out between Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri on the ruins of the agreement that brought Aoun to the presidency, and against a backdrop of what Lebanese Sunni leaderships consider to be the ruins of the Mithaqiyya [Charter] broken by the binding parliamentary consultations conducted by Aoun and which ended with Dr. Hassan Diab being appointed as premier despite not gaining Sunni parliamentarians' votes as required by the constitution.

In Bkerke, Aoun said that the new government will be New Year's gift, will be formed of technocrats, and will not be a Hezbollah government as western media is saying, but a government for all Lebanese, including Hezbollah. In an attempt to respond to the accusations by Sunni leaderships of him violating the Charter, Aoun said that the government's color is not determined by the appointment of the premier but by the formation of the government and who is included in it.

In a clear response to the accusations by Hariri that Aoun's son in law Minister Gebran Bassil is the one forming the government, or by the Secretary-General of the Marada Movement Suleiman Frangieh who claimed that the government is Bassil's though appearing to be independent, a government of independents whose history is associated with compromises with people of power and influence, known for being inconsistent, Aoun said word for word, "Let us assume that Gebran Bassil is the one forming the government, does he not have the right to? Does he not head the largest parliamentary bloc? Nevertheless, it is not him who is forming the government."

When asked about what is being said of the Charter in Lebanon being in danger because of the appointment of the premier without Sunni cover, Aoun responded that he waited for Hariri for 100 days. Still, he did not come up with a solution. Sunni leaderships responded to Aoun's claim that this is not Iraq where the largest parliamentary bloc appoints the premier and forms the government, and that our constitution is clear about parliamentary consultations, which does not necessarily imply that they are linked to facilitating the formation of the government as Aoun did, speaking of 100 days, without recalling the 2 and a half years of presidential vacuum that was imposed by Hezbollah before the agreement with Hariri being premier was reached.

Hariri had outlined the features of the open confrontation with Aoun and his son in law Bassil, asserting that he will no longer cooperate with "the racist and sectarian Bassil trying to take over the country," and that this presidential term is dealing with the constitution and

law as perspectives. He claimed that he was cautious about maintaining peace with the Shia duo, Hezbollah, and Haraket Amal, out of the refusal of sedition between Shias and Sunnis.

Hariri described the strong government as Bassil's government, asserting that he will not be willing to return to the premiership if Hassan Diab failed, saying, "With Bassil? No. These are people I can no longer work with after today; he wants to run the country on his own; he needs to concede. How can one work with people who speak of sectarianism and racism?"

Fouad Siniora had announced that the parliamentary consultations did not respect the constitutional Charter when it went over the Sunni vote and when the head of the Islamic Center for Studies Judge Khaldoun Oraymit that Sunnis were not slaves for a prime minister to be imposed on them. Member of Parliament Nohad Machnouk tweeted "We thank the Sayyed [Hassan Nasrallah] for adopting the appointed Prime Minister Hassan Diab; he saved us the time of accusing him of being Iran's candidate and the Supreme Leader's advisor's defense of Diab is a clear and honest declaration that he represents Iran and does not represent the Lebanese, the people of Beirut, or the Sunnis."

The contradictory positions, of course, continue in terms of the formation of the government when Aoun says in Bkerke that it will be technocratic. He is contradicting his former insistence on a techno-political government. It is clear that the government will be born from the womb of politicians and despite Hassan Diab claiming that it will represent Lebanon and not a political minority and that it will be a government of technocrats par excellence.

Despite him saying: "I am an independent technocrat. I do not know everything because I am an engineer, and it will not only be Hassan Diab who will address the problems", a moment later he turns into a politician, especially after visiting Selim Hoss, and when he says that we have reached this stage after 30 years of bad policies, in an implicit hit at Hariri politics that this presidential term and its allies are trying to hold responsible for what Lebanon is facing despite all of them being complicit.

Hezbollah's answer to the technocratic government story that Aoun is talking about after Diab elaborated on it being men of science, expertise, economics, and labor, by Minister Muhammad Fneish that the incoming government needs a political cover. This begs the question: What does a political cover mean? If not, the necessity of having the ministers refer to parties and politicians who are very clearly backing these ministers?

What warrants mourning is not the Lebanese state and political arena sinking in divisions that re-draw the features of March 8 and 14, but the international community and countries that had given aid, convening in the Cedar (CEDRE) Conference, alongside Arab countries, especially the Gulf, that were always subject to accusations by Hezbollah despite being neutral, being convinced that the situation in Lebanon is hopeless.

The catastrophe is that this comes with a wave of horrifying bankruptcy and unemployment, and in a time that the Minister of Finance accuses the banks of holding the salaries of employees as if the banks alone are responsible for the catastrophe produced by the state now forming a government of masked politicians, trying to mock the revolution's popular demands demanding the overthrow of all politicians, and while Washington announces that there is no Western country ready to save Lebanon if politicians did not understand the message sent by the revolutionary street!

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