Hezbollah to up the ante in Cabinet negotiations

After years of standing on the "sidelines," Hezbollah is steadfast in its aim of becoming a major political player with profound domestic influence, the sources say.
by Georgi Azar

16 August 2018 | 18:52

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 16 August 2018 | 18:52

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressing supporters via satellite link during a rally in the southern Lebanese border village of Aita in August 2013. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah is threatening to reconsider its demand for a modest share of portfolios in the upcoming Cabinet if the formation process stalls, sources close to the Iranian-backed militant group told Annahar.

The sources cautioned Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri against delaying the Cabinet formation process pending a shift in the regional power dynamics that would tip the local power balance in favor of the pro-Saudi camp, in a bid to downsize the share of Hezbollah and its allies in the government.

Banking on a shift in the regional power dynamics to curb the influence of Hezbollah and its allies in the Cabinet, sources say, would fail in light of the recent parliamentary elections results that granted the Shiite group and its allies an absolute majority in parliament. 

After years of standing on the "sidelines," Hezbollah is steadfast in its aim of becoming a major political player with profound domestic influence, the sources say. 

Hezbollah's Secretary-General said it best during a speech last month when he suggested that prolonged negotiations over the Cabinet formation would prompt the party and its Shiite ally, Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement, to up the ante.

"Our bloc secured 30 seats in parliament and is asking for six ministries while others secured 20 seats and are demanding seven, everyone should show some humility," he said. 

Hezbollah's sense of "humility" seems now to be coming to an end, evident in Nasrallah's speech on Wednesday, during which he alluded to the fact that the size of his bloc, alongside that of the Amal Movement, far outweighs their proposed ministerial portfolios in the upcoming government.

If delays continue hampering the formation of the Cabinet, sources say Hezbollah, which has accepted a share of three ministries including a service portfolio, namely the Health Ministry, is likely to raise the stakes by demanding a larger share of ministries.

The recent developments suggest a shift in Hezbollah's domestic policies, after years of focusing on its regional role, mainly vis-a-vis Israel, while leaving its longstanding ally Berri to deal with internal politics.

Despite gaining representation in Lebanon's Parliament in 1992 in the wake of the Taef accord, Hezbollah abstained from taking part in the executive branch until 2005 when the party was allotted the Ministry of Energy in a Cabinet that brought together the main political factions except the Free Patriotic Movement then headed by current President Michel Aoun.

What is certain, is that the party, who greenlit Hariri's designation as prime minister following the May 6 parliamentary elections, will not relinquish its demand for the Ministry of Health under any circumstances. 


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