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).
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)