TEHRAN, July 10 (MNA) -- At the last moment, when Lebanese groups were about to reach an agreement on the makeup of a unity cabinet, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut protested openly at the way ministerial posts were being divided between the March 14 and the March 8 groups and thus delayed the formation of the new government.

This intervention has stoked up the tension between the two centers of power in Lebanon and encouraged the March 14 group to ask for more ministerial posts.


The U.S. move showed its utter disregard for the Doha agreement and proved that the United States and certain Arab countries do not want to see the Lebanon crisis resolved based on the blueprint mapped out at the Doha meeting.


Certain Lebanese politicians have been optimistic about the possibility of forming a unity cabinet, but doubts have now arisen, despite the efforts of designated prime minister Fouad Siniora to hammer out a deal acceptable to all political players in the Lebanese political arena.


The ambitious demands of the March 14 group, which wants to control the key finance, foreign, interior, justice, and transport ministry portfolios, have created obstacles undermining Siniora’s plan to promptly form a cabinet.


Despite the fact that the Doha agreement outlined the roadmap for establishing a unity cabinet and led to the election of a new Lebanese president, over six weeks have passed since the deal was made and the members of the new cabinet have still not been selected.


In their meeting with Siniora, the leaders of the March 8 group, including Michel Aoun, the chairman of the Free Patriotic Movement, insisted on the need to implement the Doha agreement, which shows that that the opposition wants to resolve the Lebanon crisis as soon as possible.


But since the United States and some Arab leaders don’t want to see the political crisis resolved, they have set certain conditions, such as including their people in the new cabinet, and thus have tied the hands of the prime minister, who must select people who will be acceptable for all political factions.


Hezbollah and its allies are not very concerned about the precise makeup of the cabinet but believe that the nation can only be united and the cabinet can only be successful if ministerial posts are given to people who are acceptable and cooperative.


At the Doha meeting, 16 ministries were allocated to the Mach 14 group, 11 to the opposition, and 3 to the president. Yet, the March 14 faction is now demanding that unacceptable and uncooperative figures be appointed to the cabinet as their precondition for joining the new government, with the aim of creating headaches for the Islamic resistance movement.


Although it’s difficult to predict the exact date the new cabinet will be formed, the prime minister’s discussions with the leaders of the two major groups have improved the political climate and it seems that the March 8 group has no objection to the makeup of the new cabinet, whose ministers will soon be announced.


However, if the U.S. keeps meddling in the efforts to establish a new Lebanese cabinet and the March 14 group does not back down from its demand for more key ministries and halt its efforts to monopolize political power, there will be a new crisis in Lebanon and we will be back to square one.


(July 10 Tehran Times Opinion Column, by Hassan Hanizadeh)





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