The not-so-inevitable has happened with surprising speed. Hizbollah and its March 8 allies have walked out of the so-called unity government in Lebanon.
The ostensible trigger was Prime Minister Hariri’s failure to agree to an emergency meeting on the STL indictments. The real reason is that after months of pressure, Hariri is still refusing to distance himself from the tribunal investigating his father’s 2005 assassination.
Hariri was caught in an incredibly uncomfortable spot. Reject the STL and more of his far-right cabinet colleagues (who already feel isolated by Hariri cuddling up to Syria and Hizbollah) would’ve quit, and finally put the nail in the coffin of his five-year-old political project. Support the STL, and allies of an under-threat Hizbollah could’ve caused trouble on the streets.
This is the best-case scenario for Hariri. He gets to stay on as caretaker Prime Minister (and if the last dispute is anything to go by, he could remain in post for months, if not years), and his unhappy unity government colleagues are no longer at the table, shouting him down.
Dare I say that Hariri could’ve even agreed with Hizbollah that their mutual needs would both be best met by this walkout?
For now, this looks like the end – in any meaningful way – of Hariri’s short-lived and slightly impotent political career. And Lebanon will be none the worse for that.