A country in jeopardy

An image grab taken from al-Manar TV on May 14, 2018, shows the leader the Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement Hassan Nasrallah giving a televised speech at an unknown location on May 14, 2018. "AFP PHOTO / AL-MANAR"

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah didn’t mince words over the weekend, coming out with a loud-and-clear, “My way or the highway,” abandoning any attempts at sugarcoating it.

It was a message intent on pushing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to the edge so that he throws in the towel.

Hariri knows very well that what is being asked of him is political suicide, and he has made it clear that ceding a ministry from his quota to the Hezbollah-backed “independent” Sunni MPs is not an option.

It’s important to reflect carefully on what the repercussions of such a scenario could be.

Another candidate could be found to replace Hariri as premier designate, but what next?

With Hariri and his allies out, would there be a national unity government? What would the impact be on what’s left of the economy? What would happen to all the international promises of material and moral support?

And what would Hezbollah gain from a broken country without any guarantees to help wake it up from its economic coma?

Hezbollah has said clearly that the formation of any government will only succeed if approved by the party. It’s the usual rhetoric, but laden with political and sectarian leanings in a manner never before expressed by Hezbollah’s leaders.

Where is Lebanon’s interest in making it clear that the party can make or break any decision in rendering the presidency, Parliament and the government nonentities, whose presence and clout is confined to protocol?

At a time of crippling sanctions against Iran and Hezbollah’s interests in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s stance is turning the country into a house without a roof especially in the absence of a national unity government led by a strong prime minister, and without the necessary local support and international backing.

The party appears determined to break Hariri. The premier-designate has proved that he is made of unbreakable mettle. The country, however, is another story entirely.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 12, 2018, on page 1.




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