The Future of Syria and the Importance of Education

Lebanon’s Game of Chicken

U.S. officials in Lebanon currently support Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri’s proposal for early legislative elections. U.S. support comes from fears of security risks stemming from the stagnation of Lebanon’s institutions, as parliament has failed for two years to elect a president. While members of parliament (MPs) continue to abstain from legislative sessions, denying quorum on a presidential vote, the two steadfast coalitions – March 8th and March 14th – have started to break.

After a deal failed at the end of last year to build momentum behind presidential candidate Suleiman Frangieh – leader of the Marada party and part of Hezbollah’s March 8th coalition – Hezbollah has since backed Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, who is also a member of March 8th.  With Saad Hariri’s Future Movement (Sunni) leading parties within March 14th in support of Frangieh, and with MPs from both coalitions contributing to the lack of quorum needed to cast the vote, both sides use the other’s absence as evidence of political malfeasance. From the U.S. perspective, ending the deadlock is matter of security. However, for Lebanon’s top politicians, the delay tactics constitute a game of political chicken. The winner gets to decide the future of Lebanon’s power structure.