Elections, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon, March 14

Is the Opposition Losing Patience With Aoun?

Three developments in the past couple of days have signaled that we may indeed be nearing the end of Lebanon’s five-month stretch without a government.

1) As reported earlier, Suleiman Frangieh — the leader of the Marada party, and a member of the Change & Reform Bloc — expressed his annoyance with the fact that Aoun has kept changing his demands vis-à-vis which portfolios would be granted to C&R.

Originally, this story was only reported in the pro-March 14 media, but Aoun himself made a scornful comment about Frangieh in his press conference yesterday, so I think that rumors of a rift between the two men are probably accurate.

2) Staunchly pro-Syrian former minister Wi’am Wahhab was on TV yesterday, expressly calling for Aoun to quit messing the Lebanese people around and take the deal that Hariri was offering, namely that Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil would become Minister of Energy rather than Telecommunications. Usually, when Wi’am Wahhab speaks, you can assume the message is coming from Damascus.

[NB: I love the bit where Wahhab comments (indirectly to Aoun): “What’s the big deal if Gebran Bassil is in charge of Energy rather than Telecommunications? If he’s capable of achieving successes in the Telecommunications Ministry, then why can’t he achieve successes in the Energy Ministry? Plus, the Energy Ministry is even more in need of successes…”

Note the complete absence of any discussion as to whether or not Gebran Bassil is even qualified to be Minister of Energy! Quite a consolation prize, don’t you think? It kind of reminds me of my attempts to convince my three year-old daughter that the pair of pyjamas that I want her to put on is even prettier than the pair that she wants to wear…]

3) Nabih Berri is threatening to launch a one-man sit-in at the Parliament if the cabinet crisis is not resolved soon.

To sum up, then: Suleiman Bek, Wi’am Wahhab, and Nabih Berri are all getting fed up of the stalemate, and two of them have directed their ire at their own ally, Michel Aoun.

What’s it going to take for the General to get the message?
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10 thoughts on “Is the Opposition Losing Patience With Aoun?

  1. If for some reason that is beyond my powers of deduction Lebanon must have a “national unity” cabinet then Beri, Arslan, Frangieh and others should stop shedding crocodile tears. Challenge them to give the proposed cabinet sans Aoun a vote of confidence or is that asking for too much?

    Posted by ghassan karam | November 6, 2009, 12:40 am
  2. I apologize if this question is obvious but I really haven’t been keeping up with the news.

    What did the crazy General ask for this time? I remember when this whole thing started he wanted 6 ministers including the telecommunication for his son in law.

    What did he change his demands to now ?

    Posted by FordPrefect | November 6, 2009, 4:13 am
  3. QN,
    I’m not convinced. Or at least, saying ‘the opposition’ is losing patience is too general an assessment. I think Syria is getting impatient, but doesn’t necessarily translate to the whole opposition.

    I wouldn’t rely too much on M14 news outlets to figure out the inner dynamics of the opposition. From all I’ve read and seen, I would say Aoun is more upset with Franjieh than the other way round. But it is not so much as a rift, as just an annoyance that Franjieh gave away too much too soon. The end result has been Franjieh being sidelined from the mediations, rather than any change in Aoun’s behaviour.

    As for Berri, it sounds more like theatrics than anything else. I’m sure Berri wants to get a government formed so as to restart the gravy train. But announcing a one man sit-in is a publicity stunt to show the people that he really cares. It’s not applying any real pressure on Aoun.

    The whole formation has been a pissing contest between Aoun and Hariri to determine who is ‘the real Christian leader’. And I’m sure Hizbullah really want Aoun to win this. As long as Aoun keeps getting concessions from Hariri, Hizbullah will be patient. And as long as Hizbullah is OK with it, the rest of the opposition will follow suite.

    Syria is probably more concerned on being a good sport with Saudi Arabia, so they want things moving more quickly. I’m actually worried now that Syrian pressure will have the opposite effect as Aoun will seek to display his independence from the Syrians.

    Posted by RedLeb | November 6, 2009, 4:20 am
  4. #4. Gigi (Im Basil) has been summoned to his new masters’ domain. Once he returns from Damascus we’ll see Aoun flip again. These flip flops and rants really does not bother the Lebanese as they think this village idiot is funny!!

    Posted by danny | November 6, 2009, 8:31 am
  5. RedLeb

    As I said, it’s not just M14 outlets that are reporting this now.

    Also, when Wi’am Wahhab starts speaking publicly in support of Saad Hariri (!!!) and criticizing Aoun, you have to believe that the writing is on the wall.

    Syria is happy with the deal. Now Aoun needs to start playing by their rules. That’s how I read these three developments.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | November 6, 2009, 9:52 am
  6. QN,

    Perfect read.Also, as I mentioned above we will see Aoun flop and flip and declare victory when his instructions arrive from damascus through Gigi…
    We will see the cabinet very soon…

    Posted by danny | November 6, 2009, 10:46 am
  7. Beirut is rife with sspeculation that the deal is done. FPM will keep Tel communication and the other “prize” will be Energy/Electricity.

    Posted by ghassan karam | November 6, 2009, 11:38 am
  8. LBC is reporting that the new cabinet has been born. I cannot help but wish the new born a healthy and prosperous life.

    Posted by ghassan karam | November 6, 2009, 10:02 pm


  1. Pingback: Middle East Studies at Middlebury · Lebanon’s New Cabinet - November 10, 2009

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