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Tammam Salam: The Man of the Hour - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Lebanese people breathed a huge sigh of relief after Tammam Salam was named Lebanon’s prime minister designate, tasked with forming a new government.

Tammam Salam’s appointment as prime minister was approved by President Michel Suleiman. He was appointed thanks to the support of the Future Movement—the party deemed to be most influential in the parliament and on the street—as well as that of the Walid Jumblatt bloc. His appointment was also approved by Talal Arslan, the renowned Druze leader; Nabih Berri, the Speaker of the Parliament; and also by the Islamic Group. It is clear that Tammam Salam is an entirely rational and balanced choice that is acceptable to all parties, regardless of their political differences.

However, since the country in question is Lebanon, voices of dissent are sure to make themselves heard. The most prominent such voice belonged to General Michel Aoun, who maintained a risible position in his objection to Tammam Salam, and was accompanied in this stance by Suleiman Frangieh.

Similarly, Hezbollah did not exhibit any clear support for Tammam Salam, who would never be their first choice for prime minister. Hezbollah—which is a Syrian supporter and agent—would have preferred to have chosen a figure that would be easier to influence and manipulate. Salam is a powerful figure who was born into a well-known Beirut political family. He is known for his moderate stances in a country where it is difficult to stand on solid ground and satisfy all parties.

Tammam Salam is the son of the late Saeb Salam, an immensely experienced former prime minister who exemplified Lebanon’s most renowned political mantra: “There are no winners or losers [in politics].” Saeb Salam was well aware of the importance of internal balances in Lebanon; he was also highly conscious of the influence of foreign countries and powers and the covetous eyes they were casting at Lebanon. He handled all of these issues with a great deal of wisdom, rationality, wit, and open-mindedness.

During his premiership under Maronite president Fuad Chehab—a powerful military figure—Saeb Salam mustered as much dignity as he could in spite of Chehab’s political mastery and, at times, offensive stances and decisions against him. Those who worked closely with Salam knew of his discontent at Fuad Chehab’s autocratic decision-making, and the provocative manner in which he marginalized others. However, Salam always emphasized that Lebanon is more important, and that there is no time for such marginal battles.

Tammam Salam was born and raised in an environment that fostered faith in national spirit, moderation, fairness and a respect for the opinions of both friends and foes. He strongly believes in educational and economic work. Thus, he spent a considerable part of his life dedicated to the philanthropic and Islamic organization Makassed, which provides education and medical care for tens of thousands of Lebanese people.

During times of Lebanese political instability—which have always been turbulent and dramatic—Salam’s voice has remained calm, rational and wise. He kept his position equidistant from other political groups until it was finally his turn, and he deserves to be named prime minister.

Salam’s mother is a descendant of the Damascene Merdam Bey family, and so his relationship with neighboring Syria—whose people are striving to gain freedom and independence from their bloody regime—is one of affinity and compassion, rather than a temporary relationship based on timely interests.

Tammam Salam is assuming the position of prime minister of Lebanon at a critical time. Conditions and circumstances have changed so that the word “resistance” no longer retains its older, more prestigious and pure meaning. “Big Sister,” referring to Syria, no longer has noble and pure connotations. A “consensual government” does not have the same old, idealized significance. All of this will be clear to seen when Tammam faces the challenges of forming a new government, satisfying different political figures and trends and meeting their demands and goals.

Lebanon remains a prisoner of sectarianism, clans and individuals—these factors are still much more important than Lebanon itself.

Tammam Salam is assuming the position of prime minister of Lebanon at an absolutely critical time. While he must be congratulated for being named to this position; he also needs our prayers and best wishes for his success.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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