The cards have been reshuffled. On 13 June, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his new government’s cabinet line-up after a five month long political tug-of-war which plunged the country into another period of notorious institutional dysfunction. Dominated by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, Mikati’s cabinet has come under the magnifying glass of the international community as it prepares to meet its biggest challenge in the midst of regional turmoil: the formulation of a unified policy on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) which has been investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri since 2009.
As the populist pro-democracy wave sweeps across the Arab world, provoking revolutionary change in some of the most entrenched authoritarian Arab regimes, the Republic of Lebanon lies in ruins. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s cabinet was brought down on 12 January by the resignation of Hezbollah and its allied ministers after Hariri had refused to comply with the Shia organisation’s demands to cease all cooperation with the UN-backed international tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri’s assassination. The tribunal is expected to issue indictments against Hezbollah members and their Syrian patrons. Recovery has been anything but rapid and is likely to be stalled further as Syria, Lebanon’s traditional power-broker, is in the throes of a popular uprising which impacts heavily on Lebanon’s chances of political recovery due to the inextricable political entanglement linking the two neighbouring countries.