Former Lebanese DM: US ‘Veto’ Blocking Government Formation

Obama Administration 'Conditions' Keep Caretaker PM in Power

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati has been routinely taken to task for his inability to form a cabinet, with his rivals claiming it shows a “lack of sincerity” and proves that his faction, which aims to form a government after the previous, US-backed bloc lost its majority, is unfit to govern.

Yet according to former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim-Mrad, the only sticking point is America’s de facto “veto” over the process, with a myriad of conditions set in place by the Obama Administration holding up the finalization. Barring that, Mrad insisted, there would be a new cabinet almost immediately.

In March, US Ambassador Maura Connelly insisted that any Lebanese cabinet “that is truly representative of the interests of the people of Lebanon will continue to support and sustain the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.” It was disputes over the tribunal that led to the collapse of the previous government.

This condition has made it virtually impossible for Mikati to form a cabinet which satisfies the Obama Administration, and Mrad indicated that Mikati was reluctant to form a government that lacked America’s imprimatur. This means that for the foreseeable future, the fallen government of the Hariri bloc will remain in power, albeit as a “caretaker” government with limited authority.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.