Observers have told Anadolu Agency that Hezbollah’s sympathy with President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil is one of the main reasons for his refusal to name Hariri to form a government.

  • With one exception, Hezbollah and the Future Movement met in Lebanon on common ground about two years ago, when the former named Saad Hariri prime minister, while the two traditional rivals maintained the mid-stick policy throughout the past decades.

On Thursday, Hezbollah did not name the designated prime minister, Saad Hariri, during the binding parliamentary consultations called by the country’s president, Michel Aoun, as part of the Shiite party’s preservation of a political approach that only succeeded it once.

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Aoun assigned Hariri to form the new government after obtaining 65 votes out of 118, while 53 MPs did not name any other figure, and two were absent from the consultations.

This is the fourth government for Hariri (50 years), as he took over the first in 2009, then the second in 2016, before his third government, which was formed in 2018, collapsed due to popular protests.

The two rivals, Hezbollah (Shiite) and the Future Movement (Sunni) did not meet until May 2018, when the first was named Hariri in the parliamentary consultations, with one exception that did not prevent Hariri at the time from launching a semi-periodic attack on Hezbollah.

** Refrain from sympathy

Specifying the reasons for not naming Hariri’s strongest Shiite faction, the journalist close to Hezbollah, Qassem Qassir, said that sympathy with President Aoun and his son-in-law, former Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, was the reason for refraining from naming Hariri.

Kassir explained to Anadolu Agency that Aoun and Bassil are at odds with Hariri and that Hezbollah is biased towards the first two parties, and that he prefers the option of not naming to open the field of dialogue to the next government.

Kassir added, “Although Hariri was not named, Hezbollah was not against the principle of assigning him to head the government, and he would participate in his prospective government with specialized ministers.”

According to observers, Hariri is taking the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron to form a government of specialists, as a starting point for the overthrow of the head of the “Free Patriotic Movement” Basil, and the consolidation of his exclusion from forming the government.

On October 13, Bassil said in a speech: “Whoever wants to head a government of specialists must be the first specialist (referring to Hariri).”

Bassil added, attacking: “We are not aware that Macron has appointed someone (meaning Hariri) to supervise his initiative and examine the blocks to see the extent of their commitment to the initiative.”

On Thursday, Hariri reiterated at a conference after his assignment to form the government, his endeavor, saying: “I will form a government of non-partisan specialists, and I will work on forming the government quickly because time is running short and this is the last opportunity.”

He added that “the new government will be tasked with implementing the economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative paper, which the main blocs in Parliament committed to support the government for its implementation.”

** Political tradition

On Friday, the private Lebanese newspaper, Al-Jumhuriya, stated that Hezbollah rejects any attempts to impose a fait accompli on both Aoun and his son-in-law Basil, but hopes for a rapprochement between the latter and Hariri during negotiations to form the government.

In turn, independent journalist Munir al-Rabie explained to Anadolu Agency that the political tradition of Hezbollah is not to name any members of the Future Movement even during the era of Rafik Hariri, with the exception of naming his son Saad in 2018, to consider political accommodation at the time.

Al-Rabee` added, “Hezbollah only names the heads of government who are following its path, such as Salim Al-Hoss, Hassan Diab, and Mustafa Adeeb, who is apologetic for taking over the government.”

Despite Hezbollah’s position on Hariri, most of its allies named the latter to head the government, most notably the Amal Movement (Shiite) led by Nabih Berri, the Social Nationalist Party close to the Syrian regime, and the Armenian Revolutionary Union Party.

Last September, obstacles prevented Mustafa Adeeb from forming the government, most notably the adherence to the portfolio of the Ministry of Finance by the Shiite duo, “Amal Movement and Hezbollah,” which brought Hariri back to the fore in the Lebanese scene again.

  • Lebanon has been suffering, for months, an economic crisis that is the worst since the end of the civil war (1975: 1990), in addition to severe political polarization, in a scene in which the interests of regional and Western countries clash.
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