Lebanon 2013: Nothing has changed, everything needs to be renewed

The challenges for the Mikati government, already overwhelmed by the opposition demanding his departure, are expected to be eventful in 2013. While several social, economic and security problems are shaking the country.

Since the murder of the head of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Wissam el-Hassan, in October 2012, Lebanon has found itself in a serious political crisis. The opposition (alliance of March 14), which is hostile to Syrian power, has been calling for the majority of parties close to the Syrian regime since the government left the country.
The Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Mikati chaired a ministerial meeting at the Grand Seraglio yesterday afternoon and highlighted the efforts of the Lebanese state to provide Syrian refugees with the help they need in an equitable manner and to avoid wasting resources at all levels. Mikati condemned the “unacceptable” criticism of the Lebanese state’s aid for Syrian refugees. However, the displaced Syrians problem is beginning to weigh heavily on the local scene.
The Christian dignitaries, for their part, expressed their wish for peace on the occasion of the New Year through the respective masses that were held in the land of the cedar trees. The Maronite Patriarch, Mgr. Béchara Raï, called for the spread of the culture of peace in families, educational institutions and at the level of religious groups. The past year has left a dark picture highlighting the absence of political leaders. Bishop Elias Audi celebrated mass in St. George’s Cathedral (Place de l’Étoile), the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut. Bishop Bustros, the Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Beirut, recalled that “Lebanon is the ultimate home of all Lebanese, all communities and political affiliations” (source: L’Orient Le Jour).
Indeed, the Mikati government failed to ensure Lebanon’s economic, political and security stability. The opposition refuses to go to the dialogue table to protect the government near the regime of Bashar al Assad.
The Alliance of March 14th therefore lays down a number of prerequisites for a dialogue: Resignation of the Mikati cabinet and formation of a neutral government to organize the election period, transfer of the four accused of the murder of Rafic Hariri to the TSL (United Nations Special Court for Lebanon) before the start of the trial next March, the surrender of Mahmoud Hayek – who is accused of attempting to assassinate Deputy Boutros Harb – to the authorities concerned for investigation and an agreement with Hezbollah to accept the principle of a Debate about the monopoly of legitimate violence and their weapons. In the opinion of the opposition, a compromise under these conditions is unacceptable.
At the beginning of 2013, all inquiries are urgent and several files remain unresolved. Even if Interior Minister Marwan Charbel is convinced that Lebanon will go beyond this critical phase and that the situation in Lebanon is relatively calm compared to the events in the region, it is important to preserve Lebanon’s special values.

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However, if the Assad regime disappears before the parliamentary elections in the land of the cedar, the Lebanese might hope for an end to the polarization between March 8 and 14. What challenges to face!

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