Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, warned of the impending chaos if no change in the current Lebanese situation were to take place before the end of this month.
“We have little time to find a solution… Otherwise, there can only be divorce.” Berri said in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat. “Things have not reached that stage – God forbid – however, this lack of reaching a solution will trigger political and security disorder.” Berri said in response to the question whether this divorce meant internal sedition and civil war.
Usually described as the eternal optimist and the ‘creator of initiatives’ during difficult periods Berri sounded the alarm, warning of the gravity of the present situation. When asked about the pertinent matter, which urged him to discard his optimism for the first time, he stated that matters had reached the point of no return, warning of “wronging institutions and the consensus on which the Lebanese regime is established.” Despite that, Berri is careful to repeat the words ‘God forbid’ every time he refers to the scenarios of deterioration in the political situation.
He revealed that the Ashura festival [annual Shiaa festival commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein], which will commence in the last third of this month will not be observed in downtown Beirut because of the opposition’s sit-in which began last December. He spoke of an agreement between the Shiaa leaders to limit their celebrations to the Shiaa clubs in Beirut, without using loud speakers and without marches so as to prevent any party from abusing the situation to further sectarian tensions. However, things will remain unchanged in the southern region of Lebanon where the celebrations will take place as is customary.
Heavily implying but never once mentioning by name, Berri expressed surprise at the leader of the Lebanese Forces’ executive authority, Samir Geagea’s, ‘pride’ in dropping the agreement that had taken place between him [Berri] and the leader of the Tayyar al Mustaqbal bloc [The Future Movement] MP Saad Hariri. He severely criticized ‘one’s’ [meaning Geagea] challenging tone in announcing a boycott as proof of the party’s power, revealing that the opposition was seriously considering a boycott but Berri rejected that saying, “what if one of the opposition’s zealous supporters finds an open shop and what if he were to subject its owner to something… ranging from a slap with the hand to a dynamite stick… Not everyone is an angel.” However, Berri pointed out that “boycotting is an option … and we will get to it eventually.”
When asked whether he was holding on to the possibility of a last minute initiative to save the situation, he answered in the negative saying, “I have proposed my initiative to form a government comprised of 10 ministers, but they destroyed it without even reading it.” Berri said that this fact surprised him seeing as his initiative – which was never raised – substantially gives the upper hand to the majority over the opposition, and which the latter protested against when the content was revealed. He said, “Now, I no longer have any initiatives. They need to come up with solutions before it is too late”, considering it high time to address the ‘Riyadh-Damascus’ axe because any rapprochement on this level will positively reflect on the Lebanese situation. He reiterated that ‘the Lebanese people will be able to reach an agreement one day if the regional and international circumstances allow for that.”