The past twenty-four hours have been bewildering, even by Lebanese standards, for all of the mixed signals coming out of Beirut about the cabinet formation. Yesterday, there were widespread reports of “optimism” and a “positive atmosphere” regarding the talks. Today, however, all this exuberance has evaporated in the wake of what The Daily Star is calling a “bombshell” (yawn) from Michel Aoun:
Government formation suffered a heavy setback Wednesday as demands made by Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun pulled the rug from beneath earlier progress.
Deliberations over the cabinet formation appear as if they would have to be resumed from scratch as Aoun, in a defiant tone, demanded that his party be granted six portfolios and be allowed to maintain the five ministries – including the Telecommunications Ministry – being handled by his Reform and Change bloc in the current caretaker cabinet.
I love these kinds of statements from Lebanese politicians. They belong to what I’ve come to think of as the meteorological school of political commentary. Politics, in other words, is like the weather. You can’t control it; you just have to hope for the best, taking advantage of the sunny days and riding out the rainy ones.
Some mornings, I wake up to read that everyone is feeling great about the “positive atmosphere”, and that this bodes well for the prospects of forming a government. On other mornings, I open the newspaper to find that this positive atmosphere has been replaced by a “negative mood”, and that all progress towards the goal has been erased.
You can almost hear the frustration in the M14 pols’ voices when they complain about Aoun’s behavior: “Why did you have to go and spoil a perfectly sunny day with this cloudburst?”
What’s the lowly citizen to do but put on their parka and go out into the drizzle, whistling a hopeful tune to distract themselves from the unfortunate turn of events?
Grey skies are gonna clear up…