Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Immediately following the announcement of the formation of Najib Mikati’s government in Lebanon, the March 14 Alliance issued a statement announcing that that this was “a government of confrontation against the Lebanese interior, as well as the Arab and international community.” The March 14 Alliance also stressed that it would not grant the newly formed Lebanese cabinet a vote of confidence.
Future bloc MP Nohad Mashnouk described the newly formed Lebanese government as being “the government of Jisr al-Shagour” in reference to the Syrian army’s brutal crackdown against anti-government demonstrations in the Jisr al-Shagour region. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, MP Mashnouk stressed that “this government reflects a decision of political confrontation taken in Lebanon at the highest levels, and it is very similar to the mentality that decided to implement military rule in Syria, and security rule in Iraq; this is the same mentality of rule in all three countries [Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq].
He added that “this long-awaited government is a government of confrontation, a government that will confront more than half the people within Lebanon, as well as the Arab and international community.” The Future bloc MP also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we are now, via this [new] government, paying the price of the Arab silence towards what is happening in Syria, and the only exception to this was the technical talk with regards to the sectarian quotas, ministerial allocations, and otherwise.”
Mashnouk also stressed that “the Lebanese government was born following a Syrian decision…it is clear that Damascus has decided to militarily confront its people in the [Syrian] interior, whilst politically confronting them in Lebanon.”
As for former Lebanese Labour Minister Boutros Harb, who is also an MP for the March 14 Alliance, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that “despite the ties of mutual respect that bind us with some ministers [in the new cabinet], the governmental makeup and the situation under which this government was formed and the manner in which ministerial positions were allocated confirms that this government is not qualified to solve the country’s problems, but rather on the contrary these problems will likely be exacerbated, particularly Lebanon’s problems with the international community.” He added “this is something that will not allow us [March 14 Alliance] to give it our vote of confidence.”
March 14 Alliance MP Boutros Harb also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we will take a position [on this new government] following its ministerial statement” before adding that “it is well-known that this government is based upon destroying the principles of Lebanese understanding and Lebanon’s commitment to international resolutions.” He also stressed that “unless the ministerial statement contradicts this…this government has come to remove Lebanon’s international legitimacy.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said that “the best thing that can be said about the new government is that this is a government of confrontation, regionally and internationally.”
He added that “the [Lebanese] president and prime minister, [President] Michel Suleiman and [Prime Minister] Najib Mikati interpreted our defense of their legitimate right to form a government as a withdrawal of support for the other side, and so a government of a single colour has been formed, and this can be seen in the insistence of those who formed this government for Syria to return to play a primary role in Lebanon despite Damascus being preoccupied with what is taking place on their own soil, and this was expressed by President Bashar al-Assad rushing to telephone President Michel Suleiman to congratulate him.”
MP Antoine Zahra also confirmed that “this government that since its inception has placed Lebanon in a state of confrontation with regional and international legitimacy will only be able to increase the problems in the Lebanese interior by revealing the predominance of Hezbollah and the March 8 Alliance in this government, over the group’s of President Michel Suleiman and Speaker Walid Jumblatt.” He also stressed that “the Lebanese Forces will not give this government a vote of confidence.”
In response to a question as to whether newly appointed Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel was named by President Suleiman and approved by Aoun, MP Zahra told Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is not true, for he [Charbel] is more Auonist than Michel Aoun himself.”
For his part, Future bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat said that “this government would not have been formed without the green light being given by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and this explains his immediately telephone call to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to congratulate him on the formation of a government.”
Fatfat also told Asharq Al-Awsat that that “the formation of the government, and the allocation of ministeries, represents a great victory for Hezbollah, and this was clearly evident by the appointment of [Hezbollah-backed] Faisal Karama, and Ali Qanso [member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party] as Lebanese Ministers of State.”
Future bloc MP Fatfat also confirmed that “members of the Future Movement and the March 14 Alliance will give a vote of no confidence on this government.”
He added that “we will wait for the ministerial statement in order to see this government’s commitment towards the international community and the international tribunal, and whether this will reflect the pledges made by Prime Minister Mikati, from commitment to international resolutions including UN Security Council resolution 1757 which authorized the establishment of the Hariri tribunal.”
As for whether the Sunnis being allocated 7 ministeries – in comparison to the Shiites being allocated 5 ministers – will make any difference in this regard, MP Fatfat stressed that “the Sunnis will not take their rights according to the addition or subtraction of a single ministry, but by protecting and ensuring the continuation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.”