Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hizbullah and Amal ministers resign (Part I): A quick report

On Saturday Novermber 11th, five ministers representing Hizballah and the Amal movement resigned from the Lebanese government headed by PM Seniora and consisting mostly of the March 14th coalition (the ruling majority opposed to Syrian influence). The resigning ministers cited the unwilligness of the majority to offer more substantial power sharing. Namely, the March 14 coalition had refused in the latest talks to grant Hizballah and Amal ministers the so called "blocking third" of the government i.e. one third of the total number of ministers in the government. Under the Lebanese constitution, if one third of the government resigns, the government automatically falls. This move came as a surprise to the March14 coalition since further talks were scheduled next week to work out a new possible "power sharing" rule. While PM Seniora refused the resignation of the five ministers, Hizballah and Amal ministers insisted on their resignations. The resigning ministers were in charge of the foreign affairs, agriculture, health, energy and labor portfolios.

This move could make things very difficult for the PM and his government as well as the ruling majority.


  1. We are now heading into a new phase of escalation. It confirms that hizb_iran are indeed opposed to the concept of international investigation into who plotted, conspired, and executed the assassination of ex-PM Rafiq Hariri along with 24 others on Feb 14, 2005.

  2. Anonymous2:14 AM

    debate, are u indirectly accusing hezbollah of being an accomplice in the murder of hariri?

  3. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Does anyone anticipate violence to come of this?

  4. Anomymous, I leave that conclusion to the intelligence of the reader.
    Concerning the use of violence against Lebanese by hizb_iran's militia, I think they might feel tempted to resort to such means in an extreme situation in order to achieve their political objectives. However, it is common knowledge that if violence is used against fellow Lebanese, a series of events will follow that will usher the end of this group's armed wing in Lebanon.

  5. Amerikano3:17 AM

    Thanks for the summary but we know all anything of your own to add? Is that part II?

  6. amerikano,
    The personal analysis will follow in Part II. Keep tuned.

  7. The Economist weekly said that Assad is selling water for the fire he started.

    "Mr Assad would like the UN to stop investigating Syria's role in the Hariri assassination, a guarantee that America will not try to undermine his regime, a return of Syria's influence in Lebanon and the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967."

  8. Arabic Coffee Pot7:02 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Anonymous8:40 AM

    Israel wants to keep Lebanon on its knees so its economy can be the dominant one (agriculture and tourism) while Syria wants to keep Lebanon on its knees so that they can control us!

    But both are temporal anomalies...they'll be gone soon and demographics will make sure of that!

  10. here is the link for The Economist story on Assad's attempts to sell water to the west:

    Sir Nigel goes fishing

  11. debate, the article is premium content, so you need a subscription. I posted it on beirut spring.

  12. Thx mustapha, it seems the link I put didn't work. I will post it for the readers here.

    Sir Nigel goes fishing

    Nov 2nd 2006
    From The Economist print edition

    Baathist dictator makes new friend

    Get article background

    WOULDN'T it be neat if the West could somehow peel Syria away from its anti-American alliance with Iran and so help to stabilise Lebanon, calm Israel's relations with the Palestinians and cut off some of the supply routes for Iraq's foreign jihadists? That, presumably, was the reason why Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, sent a senior adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, to Damascus this week for a meeting with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad.

    There is only one fly in this plan's ointment: Bashar Assad. Syria's president may be less cunning and murderous than his late father, Hafez, but he is nobody's pushover. Less than two years ago he looked weak and susceptible to pressure. Many people assumed that he ordered the killing of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005. That prompted a UN inquiry and a popular storm in Lebanon that forced Syria's army into a humiliating withdrawal. There was loose talk in Washington about making his the second Baathist regime to be toppled by America. And it was assumed that Mr Assad knew that in any military clash with Israel Syria would be swiftly routed.

    Now all has changed. This summer has seen rising American fatigue in Iraq, a war in which Hizbullah, Syria's protégé, made Israel look weak, and the tightening control of Damascus-based Palestinians over the Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza. Iran, far from being cowed by American threats, is in a bumptious mood. Sir Nigel would have had to take some very tempting morsels to Damascus in order to entice Mr Assad out of Iran's orbit.

    Mr Assad would like the UN to stop investigating Syria's role in the Hariri assassination, a guarantee that America will not try to undermine his regime, a return of Syria's influence in Lebanon and the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967. Sir Nigel, a talented diplomat, is tipped to become Britain's next ambassador to the United States. But it is hardly in his gift to proffer any of these enticements—unless, of course, this was a fishing trip conducted at America's behest.

    Mr Assad is not popular in the White House. But some in the State Department think the West has much to gain in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine by splitting Damascus from Tehran. Both America and Israel knew in advance about Sir Nigel's expedition—and it was the British, remember, who talked round Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. Watch this space.

    Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

  13. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Is the government still valid? Constitutionally there should be Shiites but there are none!

  14. Yes the government is still totally legit, all the decisions are constitutional.
    The government falls only after one of those scenarios takes place:
    1-the PM resigns or dies
    2-The Parliament makes a vote of no confidence
    3- 1/3 +1 of the cabinet resign (which is not the case here since only 1/4 resigned)

  15. Anonymous4:02 AM

    Doesn't it say in Taif that all sects should be represented? That would make it illegal!

  16. The constitution says that all sects must be represented indeed when the government is formed.
    However, if some ministers (regardless of their sect) resign after the government is formed by their own willing then there's nothing unconstitutional about carrying on as long as none of the 3 points afro mentioned apply!

  17. Anonymous4:52 PM

    There is a legal issue with the international court also! The constitution says that the President of the Republic must sign off on all international agreements. An international court is an international agreement!

    This crippled government can't keep on disregarding everyone else in the country.

  18. This government is far from being crippled. The only institution that is crippled is the presidency.
    Now the draft was send back to the UN to be approved by the UNSC. After that it will be returned to Lebanon for final confirmation. At this point the draft will send officially to both the gov and the president who has a specified number of days to react by accepting it or refusing it. If he refuses it, it will returned to the gov that has the authority (required 2/3 majority) to pass it into legislation by passing it to the parliament for a vote.

    Al Qafila tasir wal kilab tanbah

  19. Anonymous8:57 PM

    It will never pass parliament because the Hizballah and Amal MP's will resign from Parliament even. March 14th cannot rule this country, it is for everyone and nothing will ever pass without everyone's agreement! No matter what the issue.

  20. If the MPs of hizbiran and amal resign then they will confirm that Hassan Nasrallah and Nabih Berri are involved in the assassination of the PM Hariri.

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  22. Anonymous,

    article 52 of the Lebanese constitution lists the exact circumstances under which the government falls. These include the resignation of the PM, his death, or the resignation of 1/3 of the cabinet. Going strictly with that article, the government is still constitutional. Since I am neither a constitutional expert nor a lawyer by trade, I can't really tell what can happen at the parliamentary level. But if your scenatio materializes, then we'd know that some poeple are willing to go to great lenght to stop the international court. It obviously goes beyond power sharing.


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