Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Berri Brobosal

A few days ago, Nabih Berri made an interesting proposal on behalf of the Opposition: they will drop their request for a new government in return for consensus on the next president. After all these months in tents occupying Downtown, the Opposition must have realized they’re not going to get what they want and hence, they are now dropping their number 1 request.

And that’s not all they’re dropping. By insisting on a consensus president, Berri, on behalf of Hezbollah, is letting go of Michel Aoun who is certainly not acceptable to the March 14 camp. That’s what friends are for…Surely enough, Aoun realized he has been duped by March 8 and rushed to the press to officially announce his candidacy.

What does the Berri Proposal entail, anyway? He’s suggesting to not demand the fall of the Siniora government in return for a consensus president. With only a few months to go, Berri’s concession seems empty at first sight. After all, what good would it do to have a different government from now until November?

Still, the real meaning of his proposal is that the Opposition is willing to drop a key demand, a red line even. In a country where losing face is the biggest loss one can face, this sure is a concession alright. And it has been recognized as such by March 14. The reactions have been carefully weighted and no one has dismissed the proposal outright.

The patriarch even ordered a committee to be formed so the proposal can be properly analyzed. No wonder, since the Christians’ position could easily weaken further. A consensus candidate almost certainly means a weak president, which would lead to more erosion of Christian power.

As for the consensus president, it remains unclear what exactly should the consensus be about. Should the ideal candidate be in support of the UN Tribunal, in support of the various UN resolutions, in support of reforming the economy to safeguard the many donations of Paris 2? No one really knows.

Asking for a neutral candidate in a country as divided as Lebanon could be asking too much. To increase the stakes, however, members of the Opposition have already said that the alternative to accepting their proposal is the forming of two governments. But would they really risk a Gaza scenario? That’s hard to believe, yet easy to fear.


nathalie said...

"... losing face is the biggest loss one can face"

I love this line!!