Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Imitating the manners of the March 8 Alliance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saad Hariri is not the first person to unjustly lose his position as prime minister; he represents the Sunni majority in Lebanese parliament, with twenty Sunni MPs supporting him, in comparison to only seven Sunni MPs backing his rival Najib Mikati. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was wronged, removed from power, before ultimately being assassinated. Following the same rule of the [electoral] winners being overpowered in the interests of the losers, Iraqi Shiite leader Iyad Allawi was similarly set aside even though his party had won the most number of seats in the Iraqi elections. This was after Iran demanded that Allawi not be allowed to head the Iraqi government as he was not one of their followers, and this is indeed what came to pass.

Despite the injustice suffered by Hariri, his followers did not respond to this in a civilized manner, and so the “respectable party” began to act like the other party that we have accused of attempting to incite the Lebanese street. It was aberrant to see street mobs attacking one another and setting fire to private and public property. This is something which does not befit the March 14 Alliance which distinguished itself across the Arab World by being a party that respects political principles, refused to be intimidated, and adheres to the values that it prides itself on. These factors tipped the scales in favour of the March 14 Alliance, and resulted in this coalition gaining much support on a variety of levels. The mob and those behind it spoilt the March 14 Alliance’s clean-cut image, which was known to command popular respect without having to resort to violence.

Thanks to its slogans, positions, and the reality the ground [in Lebanon], the March 14 Alliance was able to set the standard for political ethics [in Lebanon], winning the elections and embarrassing the other political parties who relied heavily upon force of arms and resorting to the street. However after what happened in Lebanon earlier this week, I was certain that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah would come out to say “look, we all resort to the streets!” and that is exactly what he did.

In my opinion Hariri responded to losing the position of prime minister in an uncharacteristic manner. We would have expected him to extend his hand to new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, not only because he has become prime minister of Lebanon in a legitimate manner, but also because Mikati is a respectable [political] rival.

I am aware that Hariri and his comrades are worried about the repercussions of losing the premiership for very serious reasons, including the safety of state officials who worked with him and who may now be subject to spiteful lawsuits. This is not paranoia on the part of the Hariri team but an expression of real and legitimate concerns, especially as this is something that has happened in the past. Hariri losing the premiership could also make it easier for some suspicious parties to disrupt the course of justice and obstruct the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. This was the fate of March 14 Alliance. When the majority of the Lebanese people voted for the March 14 alliance and it found itself in government, its opponents besieged it, and now that they have forced it from power, they will pursue its members.

This is where the role of the new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati comes in. He is known for being a man of principle, and he previously adopted courageous positions with regards to providing Saad Hariri and his party with political cover. Mikati is widely respected in the [Lebanese] political arena, and we will observe how he handles Lebanon’s position towards the international tribunal, particularly as this tribunal is legally binding with regards to the Lebanese government. Everybody is waiting to see how the Mikati government will deal with those who are threatening senior officials in the previous government.

I believe that Mikati is a patriotic and respectable political figure who has not, and more importantly, will not, make unjust decisions. Mikati is well-aware that the international tribunal’s objective has never been and will never be vindictive, but rather to serve justice, which is something that will ultimately ensure the security to all of Lebanon’s politicians.