Lebanon: Controversy over electoral law
by Ghaleb Kandil on 06 Apr 2013 0 Comment

The resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati is mainly due to the position taken by the United States and the West vis-à-vis Lebanese internal affairs and the new electoral law. It is a response to 8-March and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which torpedoed the 1960 Electoral Act by preventing the formation of the Supervisory Commission on elections. The United States ambassador, Maura Connelly, kicked off the escalation three weeks ago by insisting on the need to hold elections as scheduled, regardless of the electoral law.


Washington and the West are aware that any law other than the 1960 Electoral Act will be subject to the determination of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and General Michel Aoun to put an end to the injustice suffered by Christians in electoral matters since the Taif agreement. The US and Western policy makers are convinced that the proportional electoral system and the Orthodox project (each community elects its own members) would put an end to the hegemony of their allies: a third of the seats would go to Sunni opponents of the Hariri clan; Christian representation essentially goes to the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). And if the blocks of the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb increase, it will be at the expense of Christians elected on the lists of Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt.


The decline of the Western presence in Parliament will result in an automatic decline of its influence in the choice of the future President of the Republic, who is elected by the Chamber of Deputies.


All these issues are entangled with the determination of General Michel Aoun to reject all extension of the Parliament mandate, which expires in June, and the President of the Republic mandate, which ends in May 2014.


Consultations for the selection of a new Prime Minister and for the formation of the next government are related to these political issues. Thus, despite discreet contacts made between the different political forces to try to reach agreement, the situation remains unclear. Political circles say that the Lebanese have to get used to the idea of ??a long period of current affairs government, as it is difficult for the various actors to reach agreement on a new electoral law. And if the American auxiliaries in Lebanon try to attempt a move on the ground, it will result in a new balance that will certainly not be in their favor.


US limits and divides opposition


The latest developments have proved that the US plan which is to mobilize and send terrorists in Syria and weapons to rebel groups has reached its peak. The decision of the Arab League arming terrorists has retroactive effect, which seeks to justify actions already undertaken. It is no longer a secret that 3500 tons of weapons, transported aboard 130 aircrafts were sent to Syria in the last three months. And despite all forms of support, Syrian opposition is undermined by divergences and traversed by outside influence. Agence France Press sheds light on this aspect:


Divisions within the Syrian opposition have brought to light the extent of a regional struggle over money, media propaganda and weapons between the Qatar-Turkey axis and Saudi Arabia. ‘Our people refuse any supervision. Regional and international disputes have complicated the situation’, said the president of the opposition coalition, Moaz Ahmed Al-Khatib, in a speech to the Arab summit in Doha. Simultaneously, some 70 opposition figures denounced in a message to the Arab summit a policy of “exclusion” followed by the Coalition, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, and a “scandalous Arab and regional hegemony” on opposition, referring to Qatar.


There is a struggle between two main axis that do not represent the entire opposition but are essential for material aid and military aids. Qatar/Turkey axis supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi axis in harmony with the United States”, said Ziad Majed, a political science professor at the American University of Paris. “This has an impact on the internal composition of the political opposition and the affiliation of various military groups”, he added.


At the meeting of the Coalition in Istanbul, the participants expressed their divisions between supporters and opponents of an “interim government” to manage the “liberated zones”. Some critics have denounced Ghassan Hitto, elected head of the government, as “Qatar's candidate,” and others have suspended their group membership. For Mr. Majed, “Saudi-American axis preferred to postpone the formation of the interim government and the axis Qatar/Turkey wanted to form it quickly and would have pushed to choose Hitto.”


The rivalry between the rich oil monarchies of the Gulf and neighboring Turkey, seeking regional power, is also reflected in the military. After the meeting in Istanbul, Riyadh hinted it was “unhappy with the choice of Hitto leading the Free Syrian Army (SLA)”, an opponent who requested the anonymity told AFP.


Daraya rebel fighters in the province of Damascus tell AFP that because of lack of arms and ammunition, they were on the verge of losing the city, besieged by the regime for more than three months. But, says one of them, “when Mr. Khatib made his offer of dialogue with the regime, weapons flowed quickly. This means that the weapons were stored at the border”. According to an Arab specialist, weapons sent by Qatar are arriving to groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood via Turkey.


However, he adds, the Saudis prefer to fund and arm the military councils led by army dissidents “for fear of the increasing role of radical Islamists”, an approach supported by the United States. Saudi deliveries now arrive by the Jordanian border. As for Salafi, including Al-Nosra Front, they are funded by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, according to a specialist on Syria, who does not want to be named.


The author is a journalist

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