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    How to oppose this new government effectively

    A recent blogpost by Beirut Spring points out that Prime Minister Najib Mikati is trying to present an third option whereby we sideline the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and choose to forget the countless assassinations since 2005 while giving the new government a chance to fix Lebanon’s ailing infrastructure. This is based on the reasoning that people will be so happy that they’ll choose stability over justice.

    What I’d like to add is that the very make-up of this government, the way it was formed, and the disparate and contradictory political messages emanating from it, make it unlikely that this supposed magic third option will materialize and fulfill the socioeconomic needs of Lebanese citizens. This has been called a ‘One Colour’ government because everyone in it is apparently on the same political side. This is a false description because apart from the fact that all factions agree on driving out March 14 (the Future Movement and Hariri especially) of the political arena and thus maximizing their position in time for the 2013 elections, (and neutralizing the STL of course), there is little they apparently agree on which is clear from the very bland and vague ministerial statement. Moreover, Mikati’s third option is doomed as long as he is emasculated at every turn by either Michel Aoun (who prefers a more, shall we say, adversarial style of politics) or Hassan Nasrallah (who openly dared anyone to arrest the four Hezbollah operatives, something the Lebanese government is legally obliged to carry out once it received the STL arrest warrants).

    With all these internal contradictions in the new government and weak coordination of its political message, you would think that March 14 as the new ‘national opposition’ should be able to take advantage of this and push forward an alternative political solution.  I agree with Mustapha that “it is very important for March 14 to remind the people, again and again… of the importance and centrality of justice and that the STL is the only available vehicle to achieve it,” but for this to work in the long-term and for March 14 to widen their credibility, it has to be balanced with classic opposition work; i.e. pointing out contradictory statements, bad policies, scrutinizing ministers’ work (something that recently only Tajaddod has done so far), etc. In a previous post soon after the Hariri government fell, I expressed pessimism that March 14 would be able to ‘upgrade’ itself and move beyond narrow and repetitive rhetoric on the STL and Hezbollah’s arms to address citizen concerns. But two years in politics is a long long time, and the jury is still out.



    Doreen KHOURY

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