And he finally did it. PM Najib Mikati resigned on Friday after lots of previous calls for resignations, explicitly by March 14 and implicitly – in form of threats – by Hezbollah’s camp. But Mikati did not do it to please those guys, it was simply the best action for him.
The situation in government and Lebanon resembles a sinking ship. Security situation is near chaos, sectarian tensions are highest, military clashes became the norm in his hometown Tripoli, bickering with Aoun and Hezbollah continuously existed, open borders with Syria in both directions are exploited by all parties without any control, a Foreign Minister acts independently without instructions, no agreement on elections law is looming with a serious potential of its postponement and etc. All these matters would push any prime minister to go. Didn’t Mikati also confidently say the Orthodox Law proposal won’t pass? May be we know now how. With such a government of failure, this is the best he can do.
A bit of populism doesn’t hurt him. I can imagine from the instant Mikati decided to go, he would wanted to score points on his way out. He pushed through the salaries rises decree which was passed just before his resignation. Moreover, Mikati has always been seen as a traitor in his Sunni sect for dealing a Hezbollah government. So he surely can score brownie points if he brought it down, and better, if done for defending the extension of the Sunni Security chief Ashraf Rifi (which Hezbollah rejected in the government session). All this resembles the old funding of the STL which he referred to in his speech on Friday. For now, he indeed challenged Hezbollah by resigning.
The political class is seriously facing a big task that could end up Lebanon without a government or new parliament on time. In the next two months, the 2014 presidential elections via 2013 elections will be fought; and to be able to do that, agreeing on a new government has been added to the to-do-list which is made of agreeing on a new electoral law. If we want to consider Mikati as winner, Michel Aoun is definitely the biggest loser here with his ten main ministries; he always bashed Mikati and yesterday he sounded his anger by calling the resignation a foreign plot by one of the embassies. Aoun never looked after his golden chicken, but focused on the golden eggs.
Walid Jumblatt, Najib Mikati and Michel Sleiman have enough MPs to switch sides and screw Hezbollah in the new government but they will never dare to do it. The likelihood is that they come back to Hezbollah with a higher price tag, unless Hezbollah had enough combined with its focus on Syria…in which case, political vacuum is in front us which Hezbollah shouldn’t mind it now.
As for Mikati himself, he is much better prepared for the upcoming elections than three days ago in whatever way it goes. He proved himself to be an opportunist – and not dump at all – by exiting this government in the same way he joined it. He is big enough now to make himself available for a new “unity government”.