I’ll have a fuller discussion of the political situation at Foreign Policy‘s Mideast channel later today. In the meantime, here are some brief updates and links to good pieces of commentary and analysis.
President Michel Suleiman has said that he will begin consultations to select a new Prime Minister on Monday. Hizbullah MP Mohammed Raad has already thrown down the gauntlet, as it were, by saying that Hizbullah will be pushing for a premier with a pro-resistance record (figures such as Salim al-Hoss and Omar Karami come to mind, although it is unlikely that they would cross Hariri in this instance.) Have a look here at the Orange Room’s amusing discussion of potential March 8 prime ministers.
The consultations will obviously be complicated by the issue of where Jumblatt decides to hang his hat. Because of Jumblatt’s defection from March 14th, Hariri only has 60 MPs in Parliament, which falls short of a 65-vote majority. This does not mean that Jumblatt will line up with the opposition, but he may elect to play some kind of a mediating role: supporting Hariri while going along with some of the opposition’s conditions.
Here are some links to further reading material (these will be updated throughout the day):
- Andrew Exum (Abu Muqawama) on Hizbullah’s insecurities
- Josh Landis (Syria Comment) believes Lebanon’s economic future looks bleak
- Michael Young on the upcoming negotiations
- Thanassis Cambanis thinks Hizbullah is on a suicide mission
- Steve Heydemann on Hizbullah’s nuclear option
- Emile Hokayem on Hizbullah going for the kill (anyone else notice a theme here in today’s commentary titles?)