Will the Lebanese political impasse witness action in the upcoming days?

Rabaa Wazeer 

After the international media was focused on the news about the situation in Lebanon and the economic crisis that has plagued the country for nearly three years, their focus has shifted these days to important news regarding the termination of both Amal and Hezbollah boycotts of Cabinet presidency meetings after more than three months of hiatus following their attempt to pressure the government to change the investigating judge in the Beirut Port explosion case” Tarek al-Bitar”, but with the deterioration of the situation in the country, the two movements have recently been forced to step back and re-participate in the cabinet meetings, perhaps due to several internal and external factors, which have prompted them to rearrange the accounts again.

Thus, during this vision, we will try to address the motives that led “Hezbollah” and “Amal” to reconsider their boycott of the cabinet meetings, the main reactions to this step, and how it will contribute to the resolution of the situation in Lebanon.

Will the Lebanese political scene witness  a breakthrough?

In a joint statement in January 2022, Hezbollah and Amal Movement, the Two Political Allies announced their return to government meetings after a three-month hiatus. They announced their participation in the Cabinet meetings relating to the approval of the general state budget, as well as the discussion of the economic recovery plan, and the discussion of issues concerning the Lebanese citizens. The Head of Government welcomed this step, which in turn announced his intention to start the government formation procedure immediately after the adoption of the General Budget.

It is known that the boycott of the Government’s meetings by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement was to pressure the Government to change the judge Tarek Al-Bitar, who is responsible for the conduct of investigations into the Beirut Port explosion. This announcement may be in the light of several internal and external factors that can be mentioned in the following lines.

The motives for Hezbollah and Amal’s Movements to reconsider the boycott.

There are certainly several internal and external factors that have spurred both Hezbollah and the Amal Movement to step back from their boycott of government sessions over the past three months, the most important of which are:

At the domestic level: the withdrawal of the two Shiite movements from government meetings is one of the main reasons why discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been taking place and the international support programme for Lebanon has been delayed. This has exacerbated the country’s economic crisis since 2019. The lira is more than 90% of its value against the United States dollar. All of these intensified the crises in the country which left the two allies in a major predicament to the Lebanese people, who have been considered to be the main perpetrators of the crisis.

The futility of the boycott: perhaps, their return due to the realization that the Lebanese people and the Government not benefiting from the disruption of cabinet meetings. The continued disruption of the meetings could lead to the reversal of political life in Lebanon and the stirring up of the Lebanese street. The Port of Beirut has even confirmed their position on the issue of investigations, demonstrating that their return comes from the realization that the continued paralysis of political life will have significant consequences on the Lebanese street.

The proximity of the parliamentary elections, perhaps one of the motives for returning to cabinet sessions, is the proximity of the Lebanese parliamentary elections, and in this context we should not lose sight of the pressure exerted by the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun on the two Shiite movements in order not to stir up the people and opposition forces against them, because the continued suspension and freezing of the sessions until next June’s parliamentary elections would enhance the role and presence of the opposition forces as opposed to that of the opposition. Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, in addition to embarrassing Hezbollah with the President of Lebanon’s strategic ally, mean fewer chances in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

International pressure, international pressure and external movements may have played a major role in the retreat of Hezbollah and Amal from the boycott. France, the United States of America, the World Monetary Fund and the World Bank have announced their intention not to provide any financial assistance to Lebanon before parliamentary elections and to stabilize the political scene internally.

The Iranian role has declined in some cases: Iran cannot be separated from regional developments related to the situation in Iran, so we can say that Iran has found itself close to placing initial points in an agreement. Geneva, in which case Iran would resort to certain concessions, at the same time Yemen would take strikes after entering the giants and regaining the area of “Shabwah,” in addition to the faltering situation in Iraq after the elections, is therefore unable to make a concession, hence the Lebanese arena is the most suitable for making concessions, in order to show good faith in reaching a framework agreement, Geneva, even Iran has already used this tactic twice in Lebanon.

What is the fate of the file that hampered the government’s sessions and will it affect Hezbollah and Amal’s continued attendance to the sessions?

The investigation into the Beirut port explosion in the coming period is expected to be frozen for several reasons, most importantly; The retirement of Tariq al-Bitar, the investigator of the Beirut explosion, in addition to turning a blind eye to the expected decision of the judge, which was withdrawn following the rejection by Hezbollah for fear that the party would be the first accused in this case. In addition to the holding of parliamentary elections next May, the period from the beginning of the call for a meeting to the preparation of the elections is a very short one, as is the continuation of the IMF mission’s discussions on the implementation of the support programme for Lebanon, which Hezbollah did not approve.

Is Lebanon emerging from its predicament?

The current situation in Lebanon imposes a series of scenarios that can be developed in three tracks:

First scenario… The trend for further complexity and a decline in the possibility of holding parliamentary elections

This trend is due to the continuing complexity of the situation in Lebanon. The deteriorating economic and security situation may strengthen this trend, as well as the short duration of the first cabinet meetings in order to establish arrangements and procedures for resolving the situation and the proximity of parliamentary elections, as well as the possibility of refraining from holding cabinet meetings. “Hezbollah” and “Amal” are not present at all meetings, causing the situation to freeze, especially since their presence was limited to certain files, as well as their rejection of IMF conditions. This means that the talks will continue until the economic vision is consolidated, resulting in continued anger on the Lebanese street and the possibility of holding parliamentary elections, a scenario that, while pessimistic, remains on the table.

Second scenario: Freezing the political scene

In this scenario, the political situation in Lebanon is expected to continue standstill as a result of deteriorating economic conditions, a shorter period for resolution close to the parliamentary elections as well as a lack of agreement between the Cabinet and the parties. This means that the cabinet table of dialogue can be turned into a battleground, thus delaying the solution. “Hezbollah” is in possession of the support of the Lebanese people by refusing to apply the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to raise support for certain goods and other actions rejected by the citizens.

Third Scenario : Moving Forward

This scenario is likely to move towards a solution, although in some cases, such as the economic support file and the adoption of the general State budget, it represents significant progress in the situation in Lebanon. It would contribute significantly to the pacification of the Lebanese street and increase the likelihood that elections will be held on time next May.



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