Lebanon: Mikati Urges Kordahi to Resign But Will He?

Published November 5th, 2021 - 06:05 GMT
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati makes a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / various sources / AFP)
Mikati urged Kordahi to put national interests first and not to “disrupt the government’s work and waste more time”

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday again called on Information Minister George Kordahi to resign to avoid further escalation with the Gulf.

He urged him to put national interests first and not to “disrupt the government’s work and waste more time.”

Mikati also had stern words on Thursday for his partners in government, Hezbollah and its allies, for exacerbating Lebanon’s diplomatic spat with various Gulf states.

He stressed that “the country is not run by defiance, arrogance, raised tones, and threats, but rather a common discourse that unites the Lebanese people so they can work together on saving Lebanon.”

Mikati also gave what seemed to be a strongly-worded speech against Hezbollah and its allies.

“Anyone who thinks they can impose their opinion by impeding work and verbal escalation is wrong,” said Mikati.

“Anyone who thinks they can impose on the Lebanese choices that steer them away from their history, their Arab depth, and their close ties with the Arab countries and the Gulf states, especially with Saudi Arabia, is also wrong.”

Mikati returned on Wednesday from Glasgow, after participating in the COP26 summit, on the sidelines of which he held a series of meetings with international officials regarding the diplomatic and economic crisis between Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. 

The row was triggered by statements Kordahi made before becoming a minister, in which he offended Saudi Arabia and defended the Houthis in Yemen.

Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Kordahi responded to Mikati’s request, saying that he will not resign and that his position has not changed.

On Thursday, Mikati met separately with President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and briefed them on the talks he held on the sidelines of COP26.

He said that he and Aoun agreed on a roadmap to exit the current crisis with Gulf states.

Mikati noted: “When we formed this government after months of disruption, delay, and missed opportunities, we announced that we are on a quick rescue mission to advance cooperation with international bodies and the International Monetary Fund, in addition to holding parliamentary elections.

“We believed that the painful reality that our country is experiencing would push everyone to let go of personal interests, and actively participate in the rescue mission, but this, unfortunately, did not happen.”

Mikati also commented on the Tayouneh incident and the decision of the ministers of the Amal Movement and Hezbollah to boycott the Cabinet until Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the Beirut port blast, is removed from his post.

He also criticized “the approach of exclusivity and obstruction that the government was subjected to from within.”

He added: “One month in, we faced our first challenge as a government, as we were dragged into intervening in a judicial order that we have nothing to do with.

“We refused to interfere in the Beirut port blast probe but stressed the need for Bitar to correct his course, especially when it comes to trying presidents and ministers. But that was not enough for some people.”

Mikati noted: “We were in the process of finding a way to hold a Cabinet session, but we had to face a more difficult challenge in light of Kordahi’s personal views, which he had expressed before becoming a minister, and Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states decided to cut ties with Lebanon.”

The prime minister said: “The Cabinet is the natural place to discuss all issues of concern to the government, away from dictations, challenges, raised tones and threats. The Cabinet will never be a means to interfere in any matter that does not concern the government, and specifically in the work of the judiciary.”

Mikati called on “all ministers to show solidarity and adhere to the ministerial statement, which set the basic rules for the government’s work and policy. We are determined to deal with the relationship with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states based on sound rules.

“We will not allow political arguments to take over this issue. In this context, I call on Kordahi once again to follow his conscience, assess the circumstances, do what should be done, and prioritize national interest over populist slogans. I am betting on his patriotic sense to evaluate the situation and the interest of the Lebanese citizens and expats.”

The prime minister also stressed that “anyone who believes that obstruction is the solution” was misguided. “Everyone must realize that no party unilaterally speaks on behalf of Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” he added.

According to political observers, Mikati received international support during his stay in Glasgow.

Political writer Tony Francis told Arab News: “Those whom Mikati met in Glasgow asked him to assume his role as prime minister and that the ball is in his court and he must act. The international community will not accept the resignation of his government.”

Francis added: “Mikati’s stances are kind of adventurous, to which Hezbollah and its allies may not respond. Everything depends on what the Iranians want in the region, and they are exploiting all fronts to get what they want.

“On the other hand, we see that Iran has agreed to resume the nuclear negotiations in Vienna on Nov. 29. Mikati’s raised tone may be part of the Western response to the Iranians; all of this means that things will remain ambiguous and no solution will be reached before Nov. 29.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright: Arab News © 2021 All rights reserved.

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