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Saturday, April 16, 2005 

Lebanon's new Prime Minister: Najib Al-Miqati

Najib Al-Miqati, who was nominated by the opposition, has been named as Lebanon's new Prime Minister.

But he's still quite pro-Syrian. He's seen as the perfect uniting figure to lead Lebanon into May's elections: he is the opposition's favourite as well as being quite close to Syria. He was chosen at the expense of Syrian puppet Al-Murad (the former Defense Minister).

Al-Miqati (above) is a prominent Lebanese businessman. There had been concerns that the recent political uncertainty would affect Lebanon's economy, and foreign investment. But that hasn't happened yet, and the Lebanese Lira has remained steady. Hariri, of course, was Lebanon's model businessman, and the country's richest man.

Adding to Al-Miqati's allure is his opposition to outgoing Prime Minister Omar Al-Karami. Deapite this, he is a close personal friend of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

The announcement of a new PM comes after the opposition finally agreed to join the negotiations to form a cabinet. They had been refusing until their key demands were met. But now, with nearly all Syrian troops gone, and an international investigation into Hariri's murder, the opposition are focussing their attentions on the election. And getting a new PM in place is essential for that: an election can't be called without a Prime Minister in office.

The opposition is confident that it'll win a majority in Parliament, which is currently controlled by pro-Syrians.

Meanwhile Syrian troops are disappearing rapidly. There are only 4000 left, and Ministers say they'll be gone by the end of the week. Fears that the withdrawal was taking too long have now been replaced by concerns that the troop pullout is happening too fast, leaving a power vacuum. Robert Fisk, and Beirutis report that Christian vigilantis have started patrolling Christian neighbourhoods.

Yes, if Al-Miqati is able to get the opposition and loyalists to choose a cabinet. That should be a lot easier because Al-Miqati has the support and trust of both sides. Karami didn't.

It doesn't make sense for the opposition to delay the elections, they are likely to win a landslide.

They refused to co-operate with Karami because they wanted to get their demands met: the withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence, and an international inquiry into Hariri's murder. They've got both of those now.

I wouldn't say Al-Miqati is 'their' man! He's very close to Bashar Al-Assad.

But I agree with you, they wanted to get rid of Karami. He was a weak ineffectual puppet.

Or maybe the opposition just wanted a token victory by getting rid of Karami.

Getting rid of Karami was a show of strength.

Al-Miqati is still close friends with Bashar. In fact, Hariri was still a close personal friend of Syrian Vice-President Khaddam when he died, he was invited to the Hariri house on the day Hariri was buried.

Jumblatt is still close to Bashar.

People try to simplify the opposition as Pro-US/Israeli, anti-Syrian. The truth is a lot more complicated. Some of the opposition have undoubtedly received American money, but others are just power hungry and riding on a populist wave of Hariri-sorrow.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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