Hezbollah and its allies withdrew from the Lebanese cabinet Wednesday, toppling the 14-month old unity government, as Hezbollah members anticipate receiving indictments from the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to reports, over one-third of the cabinet, or 11 ministers, resigned after Hariri’s son and current prime minister, Saad, refused to convene a meeting to discuss the investigation.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has already began the process of putting together another administration, and is expected to begin consultations over the choice of a new prime minister today and poll lawmakers on their choice Monday. Saad will remain prime minister during the transition.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman (L) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (R)
Hezbollah’s master plan was uncovered when, according to the Lebanese papers Al-Akhbar and A-Safir, the movement told Suleiman it will not allow Hariri to continue as prime minister in the next government. Rather, Hezbollah wants the next prime minister to be a supporter of the group. “We should agree on the way to administer the country with a strong government headed by someone with a history of national resistance,” Hezbollah lawmaker Mohammed Raad said.
Conceding to Hezbollah’s demands for the sake of stability would be a grave mistake. As PM Hariri said in an interview last month, “Without justice you won’t have stability.” And although it may not seem so, Lebanon is stronger today because Hariri refused to give-in to Hezbollah. One can only hope that the Lebanese people stand up for political leaders like Hariri during the next parliamentary and presidential elections, and that the U.S. offers its full support to those political winners, for the sake of not only stability, but also justice, for the torn country.