Elections, Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Lebanon’s New Government (Feb 15, 2014)

Lebanon's new government (2014). Click to enlarge

Lebanon’s new government (2014). Click to enlarge

After nearly eleven months (329 days to be exact), Lebanon has a new government. Some thoughts are forthcoming about why the process took so long, what happened to facilitate it, and what this suggests about a shifting regional picture on the situation in Syria, but in the meantime, here are some quick observations:

  • There are twenty-three men in the cabinet and one woman. (Update: Alice Shabtini is a judge who previously headed the Military Appeals Tribunal, and was reportedly President Michel Sleiman’s preferred candidate to head the Judicial Supreme Council. As the head of the Military Affairs Tribunal, she played a role in knocking down the sentence of Fayez Karam to just two years, despite being convicted of collaborating with Israel. Fun fact…)
  • The two main blocs (March 14 and March 8) are each represented by eight ministers, while the Prime Minister, the President, and Walid Jumblatt control another eight ministers between them, in the so-called “centrist” bloc.
  • The one-third share for each bloc is designed to prevent passage of any significant legislation by denying quorum to the cabinet. This innovation dates back to the Doha Accord of 2008 and has more or less guaranteed the paralysis of the executive branch ever since.
  • In addition to the one-third share, it appears that each bloc also has a mole in the centrist bloc, whose sole function is to help bring down the government if one side decides to resign. (A cabinet falls when more than one third of its ministers resign). March 14’s mole is Ramzi Jreij; March 8th’s mole is Abd al-Muttalib Hennawi. In other words, this probably isn’t an 8-8-8 cabinet but a 9-9-6 cabinet. Why both blocs have agreed to keep up appearances is not yet clear.

The list of ministers is below, but I’ve also made a graphic that you can download (see above).

March 8

  • Ghazi Zeaiter (Public Works – AMAL)
  • Ali Hassan Khalil (Finance – AMAL)
  • Mohammad Fneish (Parliamentary Affairs – Hizbullah)
  • Hussein Hajj Hassan (Industry – Hizbullah)
  • Arthur Nazarian (Energy — Tashnaq/C&R)
  • Gebran Bassil (Foreign — FPM/C&R)
  • Elias Abu Saab (Education — FPM/C&R)
  • Raymond Arayji (Culture — Marada/C&R)

March 14

  • Boutros Harb (Telecoms — M14)
  • Michel Pharaon (Tourism — M14)
  • Nouhad Mashnouq (Interior — Future)
  • Nabil de Freige (Administrative Reform — Future)
  • Rasheed Derbas (Social Affairs — Future)
  • Ashraf Rifi (Justice — Future)
  • Sejaan Azzi (Labor — Kata’ib)
  • Alain Hakim (Economy — Kata’ib)

Centrist

  • Tammam Salam (Prime Minister)
  • Samir Moqbel (Defense & Deputy PM — PM’s share)
  • Mohammad Mashnouq (Environment — PM’s share)
  • Ramzi Jreij (Information — President’s share / likely M14 mole)
  • Alice Shebtini (Displaced — President’s share)
  • Abdelmotleb Hannawi (Youth & Sports — President’s share / likely M8 mole)
  • Akram Chehayeb (Agriculture — Jumblatt)
  • Wael Abu Faour (Health — Jumblatt)

Discussion

41 thoughts on “Lebanon’s New Government (Feb 15, 2014)

  1. Interesting that none of the political “heavy hitters” — like Fuad Siniora or Walid Jumblatt — is a minister. As usual, the real decisionmakers won’t be those sitting around the cabinet table. (Who, besides the Sayyid himself, would be considered a political heavyweight in Hizballah’s ranks? Just wondering.)

    Posted by Jim Reilly | February 15, 2014, 5:28 pm
  2. I mentioned the ninth minister mole scenario in a comment under a recent post.

    Again, Harriri has failed his constituents and I would even say his allies. The apparent win he scored is not deserved in my opinion and serves only to delay his much needed retirement from politics and the eventual emergence of more credible leaders. This is in regards to the 8-8-8 bogus formula not to mention the other undesreved concessions which he made covertly in order to cover his ass.

    But, regarding the previous Qnion, this latest addition to Qnionism made by the ‘new-born philanthropist’ under the flag of an obscure islande should not go unnoticed. Mr. Sayyid, announced today his severance of ties with March 8 camp over Rifi’s apponpintment as the Justice minister. He blamed March 8 for the appointment which he doesn’t approve of.

    Posted by Mustap | February 15, 2014, 6:28 pm
  3. Jim

    I don’t think Jumblatt has served in a cabinet for a while. And it’s rare for a former PM to return as a minister.

    As for heavy hitters, it depends on how you define them. There are plenty of well-known politicians besides Nasrallah in Hizbullah (e.g. Fneish, Raad, Moussawi, etc.) They have no less name recognition than the FPM’s Bassil, Sehnaoui, Kanaan, etc.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 15, 2014, 6:33 pm
  4. I think this quotes pretty much is enough to sum the entire situation and to explain why none of this matters anymore:

    “The one-third share for each bloc is designed to prevent passage of any significant legislation by denying quorum to the cabinet. This innovation dates back to the Doha Accord of 2008 and has more or less guaranteed the paralysis of the executive branch ever since.”

    Basically, the whole damn thing is moot. Might as well not have a government.

    Until Lebanon adopts a PROPER executive authority (and of course, a proper electoral law for parliament, etc.) the whole damn system will remain broken and the minutiae of what name got what ministry, etc. will just be completely irrelevant. Call it a masturbatory exercise in futility to even bother discussing the details here.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 15, 2014, 7:56 pm
  5. How is it the “Change & Reform” party is allied with HA? That’s like some sort of “freedom” party allied with Assad.

    Maybe the name wasn’t translated properly.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 15, 2014, 9:35 pm
  6. F@$k did Bassill strike it lucky when he met the Generals daughter, foreign ministry aye? Only in Lenanon. I guess he can’t be worse than that creepy looking Adnan.

    Posted by Maverick | February 16, 2014, 8:22 am
  7. Now they’ll quarrel for another 330 days to come up with a ministerial statement.
    QN, If a President is elected; is it customary or is it mandated by law that the cabinet resign?

    Posted by danny | February 16, 2014, 9:07 am
  8. I have known General Hannawyi personally since his days in the army and before Michel Sleiman became President through my father. He used to pass by and have breakfast and coffee with us Saturdays. the good old days when I used to live in Lebanon with the parents

    He really doesn’t strike me a M8 sympathizer. he has always been fiercely loyal to Lebanon and wasn’t a fan of an armed party getting the south into more trouble than it needed to be in.

    I guess that he could be prone to persuasion by either HA or Amal given that he is a Shiaa muslim. They could have a lot of sway on his immediate family and other relatives.

    Don’t we just love Lebanon
    .

    Posted by Yooos | February 16, 2014, 9:40 am
  9. Reporting from Beirut, I wrote 3 times and erased it. Am gunna quit complaining.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 16, 2014, 10:10 am
  10. Danny

    If a President is elected, it is mandated by law that the cabinet resign. Then, if the elections are held, we’ll need another new cabinet.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 16, 2014, 6:00 pm
  11. Hassan has said he is not afraid of the “enemy”.

    So is the “enemy” Israel or the Syrian pro-freedom opposition?

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4489039,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 16, 2014, 6:27 pm
  12. “The country is living a crisis, as the longest cabinet formation process in Iran did not exceed 10 days while it took us 10 months to form our cabinet in Lebanon, and the reason is that in Iran there is domestic stability, constants, principles, a wise and sober-minded leadership and officials who are under the law and who abide by (Islamic) Sharia, constitution, principles and constants,”

    What an amazingly astute statement. Lebanon should be like Iran!

    Posted by danny | February 16, 2014, 7:42 pm
  13. Akbar Palace,

    It is obvious that Hassan is reeling from his Syria adventure. He now lost and continues to lose more dead bodies than he lost during his entire career as a terrorist by proxy. The heat is building on him.

    With regards to his call to withdraw so-called fighters from Syria so that he may withdraw and the war may stop, he seems to have forgotten that his friend Assad started the war and then he went in to open Pandora’s box. He helped his friend to breathe some air for a while because Assad was defeated before he went in. Now it is his turn to suffer humiliating defeat which we know for sure before he makes it ‘official’, and calls it ‘divine victory’.

    But to answer your question, he was referring to Israel as the enemy in the speech which he obviously made from an underground sewer.

    The Syrians will chase him and his mercenaries to the end of the earth and to the deepest sewer he will seek refuge in.

    Posted by Mustap | February 16, 2014, 7:54 pm
  14. Mustap,

    Thanks for your opinion. It’s difficult for me to imagine a “resistance” against a “resistance”? Like a double-negative, it doesn’t make sense.

    In the “Good ‘ol Days”, Israeli, jewish and American targets were getting bombed on a weekly basis. Demonstrations at embassies, and thousands of burning American and Israeli flags.

    Who is burning Syrian and yellow Hezbo flags today? No one.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 16, 2014, 9:35 pm
  15. Danny,

    Good point. One day “stability” will be defined by freedom and prosperity, not by the number of missing civilians.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 16, 2014, 9:40 pm
  16. On a slightly unrelated topic, and considering this has been one of the COLDEST winters in history, who here doesn’t believe in this “global warming” religion? I don’t. QN? How about you? q:o)

    http://www.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=22995&external=2541491.proteus.fma

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 16, 2014, 9:46 pm
  17. Coldest ever? Depends where you’re at AP. Here in California, it’s been in the 70s since October and we’ve gotten rain maybe on 2 days since then (and by ‘rain’, I mean drizzle).
    The weather patterns have definitely changed a lot since I started living here 20 years ago. Call it what you want “warming” or not, but the weather is not what it used to be like in the 1990s, that’s for sure.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 16, 2014, 11:30 pm
  18. BV,

    I said “one of the coldest”. In any case, this article says the 3rd coldest. Yes, I was just in San Diego. The droughts there are fairly common….

    ttp://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/third-coldest-winter-on-record-so-far-in-the-us/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 17, 2014, 12:05 am
  19. An-Nahar reports Jreij is officially the Kataeb’s third minister (http://www.annahar.com/article/108709-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AC-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B5%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%A9).

    And as far as I’m aware, nobody in March 8 is denying or even complaining about this. Which is a bit odd, given that it provides M14 with a 9th minister.

    Posted by Alex Rowell (@disgraceofgod) | February 17, 2014, 10:43 am
  20. Can we get a refresher on the quorum situation? Is the current dominant view that the parliament needs a two thirds quorum, or can it get by with just half plus one? I very much doubt that a consensus candidate will emerge. What happens if march 8 moves ahead unilaterally?

    I’d be very scared of a general election if i was March 14. You can’t win with just the Sunni vote, and how many Christians are going to trust their fate to the Takfirist block? You know you’ve messed up when Sa’ad Hariri has to start distancing himself from his street level crazies like al-Assir. It’s going to be a tough balancing act to simultaneously galvanize the sunni base by condemning the shi’a for their actions in Syria, and convince the Christians that your not neutral on the question of their getting slaughtered. If anything can convince a Lebanese sect to shed it’s loyalty to their traditional political standard bearers, it would have to be a situation as extreme as the present.

    What are Mikati’s plans? What is the state of his street level organization as compared to the future movement?

    Posted by masoud | February 18, 2014, 2:11 am
  21. To all those constitutional lawyers who insisted that a cabinet cannot start functioning until it gets a vote of confidence from the parliament.

    See:

    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/lebanonnews/535918-new-lebanese-cabinet-holds-first-meeting

    I am sure you can come up with a divine spin. Yalla let’s see you guys. :D

    Posted by danny | February 18, 2014, 9:29 am
  22. Israel treats injured Syrians while Assad is killing arabs. It all makes perfect sense in the logic-challenged ME….

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4489821,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 18, 2014, 1:09 pm
  23. It shouldn’t take a genius to realize that the latest (today’s) bombings in Beirut are the works of the Baathist and Iranian proxies that are designed to force a certain cabinet statement down the throat of the newly formed orphaned government.

    If it turns out these are the same so-called Azzam brigades, then the thread with the ‘bogus resistance’ herds and their Baathist clients becomes even stronger. The Azzam’s connection with the Iranians is well known to span a well established timeline.

    Posted by Mustap | February 19, 2014, 5:37 am
  24. Mustap, this is utter bullshit, you sound like those who accused M14 of assassinating their own people. Clearly there are 2 opposing sides waging war in Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 19, 2014, 8:37 am
  25. Vulcan,

    With all due respect I disagree.

    There are good examples from past incidents indicating the exact scenario which you call bullshit were in fact the opposite.

    Abdallah Azzam’s collaboration with Tehran are well known.

    Posted by Mustap | February 19, 2014, 9:44 am
  26. They may have collaborated at one time when they blew up shit in Iraq with the help of Bashar and the “resistance”, back then they were also hailed as resistance by both Shia and sunni and Aljazeera channel too. But now they aren’t collaborating, they turned on each other those mothafuckers.

    Here’s a read that I didn’t read yet.

    http://www.thetower.org/article/do-syria-iraq-and-lebanon-still-exist/

    Posted by Vulcan | February 19, 2014, 5:06 pm
  27. Divine intervention

    Posted by Vulcan | February 19, 2014, 5:07 pm
  28. Bikfaya….mama mia

    Posted by Vulcan | February 20, 2014, 2:17 pm
  29. Say hello to Sami

    Posted by danny | February 20, 2014, 8:01 pm
  30. With rumors about Aoun becoming an acceptable candidate for the presidency, what are the real possibilities out there and what would the so-called democratic processes allow for? Suleiman is interested in the legacy of empowering the army and so is Qawhaji. Will there be a return to civilian nominees or are we stuck with military ones? I understand that governments, including presidents, are nothing but an establishment for keeping up appearances (contracts, business and finance, stability for ratings, etc.) and not to actually provide for real change and reform of the political institutions and to encourage citizenship. But would Jumblat, Berri, the Kataeb and other independent MPs be able to overtake a presidential nominee supported by M8 and Mustaqbal? Just curious about whether the fact that a broken state that have been functioning without any independent political vision for the last few years could go on subsisting without consensus for the next few years? What kind of president would change the status quo of wait and see (what happens in Syria or between KSA and Iran)? Any thoughts?

    Posted by Parrhesia | February 21, 2014, 3:22 am
  31. Any thoughts about the following incident which took place in Banias? In particular does this incident fall under the definition of state sponsored terrorism, abhorrent criminal behaviour sanctioned by a criminal regime? Or simply a savage and sadistic act even animals would ‘abhor’?

    A pregnant woman from the Traboulsi clan in Banias was taken as a hostage by the Syrian regime because the regime wants her brother. She was close to giving birth at the time of the incident. Two days later she went into labour and was taken to the military hospital where she gave birth. The grandmother was called in to take the child, and the mother was taken back to the prison.

    Is this what Russia is defending at the UN in the 21st century?

    Posted by Mustap | February 21, 2014, 6:44 am
  32. And just so you don’t jump to conclusions and assume I’m singling Russia out, I’m also looking for deeply thought comments about the latest Obama theatrics.

    This week the US President effectively drew a red line to the Ukrainian government. Just in case you haven’t noticed.

    Posted by Mustap | February 21, 2014, 7:34 am
  33. Mustap,

    Where’s GWB and the neocons when you need them?

    If John Bolton runs for president, he’s got my vote!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 21, 2014, 9:52 am
  34. Parrhesia,

    IMO; the rumors about Aoun is just smoke. I doubt it that even HA would be tempted to back him. He has proven to be opportunistic and yet unpredictable. He might want to push for his son in law.

    As for a civilian vs a military man. I think the last military men were chosen (Lahoud and Sleiman) as they were acceptable to HA/Syria. They both had developed close or subservient (Lahoud) relationship with Assads.

    Maybe a bland center can be found as HA is really pissed from the switcheroo of Sleiman.

    As for the warlords…Don’t expect too much from the corrupt mafiosi.

    Posted by danny | February 21, 2014, 11:24 am
  35. I tend to agree with Jonathan Spyer’s article from previous thread posted by Vulcan. I wouldn’t call it Lebanon’s War in Syria if I were QN. This like giving credit where credit is not due. Call it something like Iran’s war on Syria, which is more appropriate in MO.

    As for the cabinet, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Nothing would come out of it and we could have entered the era where governments will take one, two, three….ad infinitum to form until Lebanon dissolves out of the map. This is just the appetizer for the main course yet to come.

    Posted by Mustap | February 21, 2014, 6:28 pm
  36. You have sunk to a new low Mustap, by claiming that Wednesday’s bombing (which was only about a half a Kilometer from my children’s school) was done by Baathist and Iranian proxies… And why Qifa didn’t even respond to your stupid conspiracy theory did not go unnoticed…

    Posted by Marion Mourtada | February 23, 2014, 3:50 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: New Lebanese Cabinet’s Protocol Photo Photoshopped | Blog Baladi - February 16, 2014

  2. Pingback: Libanonin uusi hallitus | The Ulkopolitist - February 17, 2014

  3. Pingback: Salam Announces New Cabinet in Lebanon | Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) - February 17, 2014

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