By Julia MK
Since the aftermath of the port explosion of August 4, 2020 which saw the resignation of the interim cabinet of former Prime Minister Hassan Diab a week later, France and America have sought to reach out to the new government formation , with the Americans joining in the pressure to restore a Western-friendly administration amid the waning influence of the two powers in the country.
The Lebanese cabinet’s main concern for them was not only in its relations with Hezbollah, but in the imminent threat of an eastward economic orientation, which, represented by the previous Diab administration, reportedly signaled a decline in l American and French economy. stronghold on the country.
According to Beirut-based journalist Mohammad Kleit, Mikati’s appointment as prime minister assures the United States that “Lebanon would not be a starting point for rebuilding Syria, at least not without American supervision and certainly not. in favor of the Chinese â.
Kleit adds that France “will benefit a lot” from the new prime minister “since he is close to them and supported the election of Mostafa Adeeb previously as prime minister, who was also close to Macron”. He added that the economic proximity between Mikati and France would also facilitate French investments.
Mikati said during a speech at Baabda Palace in June that he intended to “form a government based on the French initiative”, referring to a commitment to a purely technocratic government rather than a technocratic government and politics.
The new 24-person cabinet is made up of bankers and technocrats, many of whom are professionally trained or educated in the West or entangled in international financial institutions and liberal internationalist organizations.
France is also divided between wanting to maintain its relations with the Lebanese presidency and civilian institutions while supporting an uncompromising position against Hezbollah, the political ally of Lebanese President Aoun. This played out in France’s distinction between the military wing of Hezbollah, to which it conformed in its designation of “terrorist organization”, and its political wing.
Two of Hezbollah and Amal’s picks in the new ministry – Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh and Abbas Haj Hassan from the Agriculture Ministry – also have French nationality and have worked and studied in France.
Youssef Khalil, a well-known financial engineering actor from 2016 and former director of financial operations at the Central Bank at that time, was appointed to the Ministry of Finance. President Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, which opposed the appointment for purely partisan reasons, has been at an impasse with former Prime Minister Hariri and the Speaker of Parliament for more representation in government ministries, in particularly in the midst of Gibran Bassil’s aspirations for the future presidency. .
Kleit added that Khalil, who signed a New York financial audit contract with Alverez and Marsal last Friday, is a practical choice for Berri to continue protecting his corruption case.
Likewise, the Interior Ministry, entrusted to Hariri-appointed Bassam Mawlawi, was a convenient choice to cover up the elites of the Future Party, a March 14-aligned party led by Hariri.
Although Mikati has been called a âHezbollah-backed billionaire,â in a Zionist daily, he and his cabinet are far from a helping hand from Hezbollah. Hezbollah has repeatedly opposed IMF austerity measures stewarded by technocrats and tycoons like Mikati, such as regressive taxes or strict aid conditionalities. In addition, Mikati has said that Hezbollah’s imports of siege-breaking fuel are a âviolationâ of Lebanese sovereignty, and there is no doubt that the West views Mikati as a choice still economically and politically aligned with them.
Yet the March 8 bloc, which includes Hezbollah and its parliamentary allies, sees Mikati as a “more pragmatic choice” than previous prime ministers, according to Syrian journalist Leith Abou Fadel. Mikati’s party, the Azm Movement, is also part of the March 8 bloc.
Unlike Hariri, who “has been strongly influenced by foreign nations and refused to compromise on key issues”, Abu Fadel says Mikati shows a “strong desire for compromise”.
For Hezbollah, the stakes of the new government are diplomatic, aimed at preventing internal discord instead of partisan rent-seeking. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah stressed in his latest speech that the party has “always rejected voids”, opposing the resignations of the previous government.
In the meantime, Hezbollah still sees the formation of a government in Lebanon as a prerequisite for internal stability. A government is needed to appoint elected officials, implement economic reforms and make decisions on major political decisions.
Nonetheless, Hezbollah is well prepared with what the United States calls its âparallel institutions,â organizational agendas that have developed outside of the crumbling structure of Lebanon and which provide a large safety net for many Lebanese, many of which have programs, services and resources available to those who are struggling independently. of political or sectarian affiliation. This includes the Sajjad grocery card, available to all poor Lebanese who request it, the discounted al-Nour supermarket in addition to fuel imports from Iran which are made free to institutions and communities in difficulty. Hezbollah recognizes the new cabinet as a diplomatic step forward, but the pursuit of the neoliberal economy and corruption that the cabinet represents will do little to affect or thwart its resilient welfare infrastructure.
The Prime Minister has also not spared fears of sanctions against Lebanon due to fuel imports occurring “outside current government institutions”. The group, operating outside of government to defend the country against invasions and attacks by the Zionist entity, ISIS, and other extremist groups and threats in the past, will also maneuver around an institutional framework that has emerged. proved unnecessary to the needs of the Lebanese people for decades to extend its economic support to a population which has experienced a rapid descent into poverty and crisis.
Abu Fadel says that although he does not expect “much from the cabinet or its officials” in terms of economic recovery, Hezbollah’s lifting of the economic seat in importing Iranian fuel earlier this month is ” unprecedented and forced Western nations that previously dictated aid conditions to abandon their policy of taking Lebanon hostage through threats of sanctions and withdrawal of military assistance.
Apart from two ministers appointed by Hariri and supported by his Future Movement, including the new Minister of Health Firass Abaid and the Minister of the Interior Bassam Mawlawi, and Abbas Halabi appointed Walid Joumblatt to the Ministry of Education, the candidates supported by explicitly anti-Hezbollah parties are largely absent from the government. , like the Lebanese Forces of Samir Geagea, or Kataeb of Samy Gemayel.
This indicates that Hezbollah will likely be treated at least from a perspective of relative sovereignty and pragmatic national interest, and that foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia and the United States have lost their grip on the apparatus. Lebanese administrative and political as far as they have in the past. The Zionist entity, Saudi Arabia and the United States realize that there is not much to be done against Hezbollah interventions, and the Lebanese government is even less able and less willing to s ‘oppose it.
Julia MK is a Beirut-based political analyst, writer and commentator. Besides regular appearances on PressTV, his work has also appeared in Al-Mayadeen, Al-Akhbar, Mirat al-Jazeera, Counterpunch and elsewhere.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)