Saturday, June 18, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: Mabrouk The New Cabinet

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

I learned about Mr. Najib Miqati’s new government through a grocery store as I took a stroll with the family off Hamra Street. Shortly after, another grocery store owner blasted out loud his small TV set for a few neighbors and passersby to listen to a press conference by Talal Arslan, already announcing his resignation of the newly formed cabinet. Most people around shook their heads in disapproval and laughed out loud at the new developments. One person dismissed them as “straight out of a Mexican soap opera.” A pretty reasonable comparison when you think of endless drama-filled episodes void of substance; totally predictable and, outside cheap entertainment, offer absolutely no added value to anyone’s life.

This is Lebanon, one so-called “national unity government” after another translates into a series of failures to unite under one flag, one nation and one people. Now that this cabinet is made up of mostly Hezbollah supporters, Syria’s and Iran’s interests will be served in the near future and possibly in the long run as well. This also gives political muscle to Hezbollah in addition to the exclusive military power the group already enjoys. So, after half a year of wrangling while Lebanon was left without a government, a Hezbollah cabinet, the only government that will be allowed to be formed anyway, is born.

Congratulations!! On nothing really.. But congratulations nonetheless. Now the question is: Can a national dis-unity government do the trick?

Judging by the reaction so far, the people are not holding their breath and they seem not to care anymore which minister carries which portfolio. At the end of the day, ordinary Lebanese have nothing more to lose and they’re not the ones who were bickering in the past five months anyway. The fighting over cabinets and portfolios is the specialty of politicians, whose main objectives in any new cabinet are to hold key ministries to control certain outcomes. The UN-backed Hariri tribunal is the most important nowadays, followed by personal allegiances to foreign countries near and far. Lastly, ensuring portfolios of lucrative ministries to fill their pockets further and feed the many mouths of supporters. This way they ensure the clapping and cheering get louder as the posters of support are erected higher on highways and roads around the country.

In a way, I find it fitting that the announcement of a new cabinet came to me in a small dusty grocery store. It is appropriate for this government born of a foreign agenda to be served to me in a store that carries only Lebanese national water to support the local economy. A controversy the modest people at the store just learned to live with just like a large portion of ordinary Lebanese.

Maybe Lebanon’s “elite” can think about that next time they consider forming a government of true national unity. Najib Miqati has asked us not to judge intentions or names but rather actions. We will do just that Mr. Miqati, and get back with you later.



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