Report: Hariri's Govt. Change Bid Impeded by Hizbullah's Protection of Bassil
Efforts by Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resolve the political crisis sparked by the unprecedented popular revolt have so far been hindered by Hizbullah’s insistence on keeping Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil in the government, ministerial sources said.
“The serious attempts that PM Saad Hariri made and is still making have run into Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s rejection of the ouster of President Michel Aoun’s tenure, the government’s resignation or the organization of early parliamentary polls,” Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted prominent ministerial sources as saying in remarks published Sunday.
“Ever since the popular uprising erupted, Hariri has considered that there is a political crisis that should be resolved and that, accordingly, it cannot have a security solution. President Michel Aoun backed his stance, in his own way, when he recently spoke of a government reshuffle according to the constitutional norms,” the sources added.
“But after Hizbullah’s secretary general joined the consultations, a drastic change in priorities occurred, after he completely rejected the political aspect of the protesters’ demands,” the sources went on to say.
The sources also noted that Nasrallah’s indirect accusation that the Lebanese Forces party has infiltrated the protest movement at the request of foreign forces has “led to a change in the president’s stance, although he has not said that he has shelved his proposal on carrying out a government reshuffle.”
“Hizbullah has indicated that it rejects the formation of a small, independent government or a technocrat government, while sources close to Hariri have said that he supports carrying out a government reshuffle aimed at pacifying the situation,” the newspaper said.
“But this can only be achieved through sacking the provocative ministers, including those of al-Mustaqbal Movement,” the sources added, attributing Hizbullah’s rejection of such a move to its insistence on keeping its ally Bassil in the government.
The 49-year-old Bassil is arguably the most reviled leader among the protesters, who have launched explicit slogans against him and created the now-famous “Hela Hela Ho” chant that has gone viral on the streets and on social networking websites.