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Analysis

Lebanon Premiership: Foreign Camp, Its Home Pawns Want Mikati Out

Thursday 23 June 2022
Lebanon Premiership: Foreign Camp, Its Home Pawns Want Mikati Out

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Alwaght- The Lebanese lawmakers are set to debate a new prime minister on Thursday. Although PM Najib Mikati of caretaker government is the official candidate for the post, Lebanese media talk about new figures that will be unveiled in the sessions. 

Mikati is pushing to get a green light of the parliamentary blocs to retain the post and has a great chance of doing so. However, in recent days, the Lebanese Forces, led by Saudi and American-aligned Samir Geagea, tried substantially to unite the ranks of the opposition to name a candidate other than Mikati. They have gone nowhere so far, however. The new figures and larger number of candidates would make it difficult for the current PM to retain the position. Saudi Arabia is aware of this fact and is trying to make the most of the Lebanese developments. 

Although Mikati has shown that he has a relatively good relationship with the Saudis, Riyadh seems to have invested in another option this time. According to some reports, Riad Salameh, the governor of the central bank, who acts as US's top man in Lebanon, is one of the options for Saudi Arabia and Washington. 

Having in mind that Salameh has been leading Lebanon's financial affairs in recent years, and according to some political sides worked for the Western and Saudi plots foe Lebanon's economy, he can be a figure of choice for the Saudis. 

Salameh has helped exacerbate the widespread economic crisis in Lebanon with his financial programs over the past two years, and has implemented the Arab-Western scenario at no cost. Therefore, he, given his track record, could be the most appropriate option for the Saudis to counter Hezbollah's influence in the future cabinet. He did what the Saudis and the Americans wanted last year by removing fuel subsidies in Lebanon, worsening the living conditions of the citizens.

As some political observers put it, a look at the performance of the Lebanese central bank over the past years shows that it did not have a fundamentally targeted fiscal policy and only acted in line with Western and US policies. He made the central bank, they continue, an institution dependent on foreign institutions and always indebted to them. Given his services to Washington and Riyadh, they are pushing to give him the top post for continued services to implement their plans in Lebanon. 

But he has a slim chance as Hezbollah and its allies, which make the majority, are opposed to his policies and mainly blame him for the economic predicament in the country. 

If Saudi Arabia fails to bring to power its own pawn, odds are it would continue its measures to prolong the political stalemate in Lebanon. The Saudis do not tolerate a government allied to Hezbollah and comprising its ministers, so it tries to use the ongoing political crisis to strike at Hezbollah and blame the movement for the crisis. Hezbollah lawmakers have repeatedly stated their readiness to form a government quickly to end the political and economic crisis, adding that national interests for them are over cabinet posts. 

During last year's crisis between Beirut and Riyadh over Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi's condemnation of the Saudi war on Yemen, Mikati declined to take a stance favorable to the Saudis, falling out of favor of Riyadh for not pursuing the Saudi interests. 

Saad Hariri's obstructions 

In addition to Saudi Arabia, which does not want a secure and peaceful Lebanon, its puppets are not sitting idle and planning to fuel the crisis in Lebanon. As Lebanon's ethnic structure has always brought challenges to the process of picking a PM, the challenges in the new parliament are even bigger. 

Hariri is not in the parliament this time but he wants to elevate his political weight and paint the political process a failure without him. To this end, he makes unusual moves to keep the dead end in place. In recent years, due to Hariri's actions and his commitment to Saudi policies, many Lebanese considered him as the main cause of the crisis in their country. Still, by fueling the crisis, he seeks to blame Hezbollah and so clear himself. 

Also, Mikati has a great chance of success as he has no serious challengers. If he is picked PM afresh, he would hold the post for the fourth term. So far, only Hariri had this record and he does not want to lose it. It is likely that through lobbying the Sunni camp, he would block Mikati's path to a fourth term and at the same time unwantedly implement the Saudi scenario for Mikati removal. 

If a large number of candidates are named, the parties, again, would have challenges picking a new PM and this spins out the political standstill. In addition, it would give the Saudis and Americans a proper opportunity to fuel the crisis in Lebanon. 

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Lebanon PM Mikati Saudi US Crisis

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