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The official reason why the Shiite ministers left the government was that they hadn’t been given enough time to translate the English draft into Arabic and to analyze it. At the time, many Lebanese were joking about this. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that the Shiite ministers don’t read well-enough English to read a UN draft. Still, why would it have been a problem for Siniora to give the Opposition some time for a proper translation and some discussion with their parties? Why the rush?
By denying the Opposition to prepare themselves for the debate in the cabinet, Siniora gave the Opposition a perfect argument to leave: a debate you are not allowed to prepare for is not worth having.
Sure, it’s easy to understand the frustration of Siniora who knew very well that the lack of Arabic translation was a mere excuse for further delay. The death of Pierre Gemayel must have motivated him even more to barge through with the UN Tribunal.
But the game of politics is often too subtle for this kind of power play behavior and what matter are appearances. Now, we can only wonder what would have happened if Siniora would have taken the high road and would have given the Opposition, say, two weeks extra time to decide on their position.
Interesting enough, the Opposition has never really clarified its stance at a later stage. Even now, its official position is unknown. In that sense, one could argue that Siniora’s rush back in November has slowed down the process up until now. And once again, his actions illustrate the gap between being morally right and getting what you deserve.