Mutton dressed as lamb

And so after much political tomfoolery and sleight of hand, Hariri is out and Karami is in. His first task was the creation of a cabinet that turned out to be comprised of vehement anti-government types, many of whom had given up on ever holding public office, and the usual pro-Syrian lackeys.

And now that President Lahoud has purged all internal opposition, he has no excuse for any political and economic shortcomings that may develop over the coming seven months. We do not know what to expect in terms of the economy, given that the criteria for selecting the new team appeared to be based more on political expediency than a genuine desire to address Lebanon’s economic woes. This is underlined by Karami’s warning not to expect miracles. If this was meant to offer hope, one dreads to think what he will say when things get rougher; and they will.

What is bewildering is that all this flies in the face of basic democratic principles. The people have been absent from the equation and thus feel more like helpless spectators than a genuine electorate.

Meanwhile, opposition has grown stronger with both Hariri and Jumblat swelling the ranks of those who do not support the new administration. While Jumblat is as vocal as ever (and the shadow of his late father seems to loom larger than it has done in years), Hariri’s record in opposition is of mounting a comeback and so it remains to be seen just how clean a break his exit deal was.

So where now? There has been a massive shift in how people see the future. While there is still every chance the frog will become a prince, some still believe in the white knight who will slay the dragon? If he is out there, he will want to claim his traditional virgin. The danger is that she may have turned into a snaggle-toothed, saggy hag and the knight may no longer be interested.

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