The Lebanese political crisis has now reached a new depth with the resignation of former Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.
After nearly 9 months of trying to form a new government that would attempt to save Lebanon from its crisis, Hariri stepped down on Thursday after presenting his final Cabinet lineup to President Michel Aoun.
With that, Lebanon has effectively returned to square one in the government formation process, in a scene similar to that which followed the August 4 explosion and the dissolution of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government — only, worse.
Although the political parameters are practically the same now as they were when Lebanese officials were searching for a new PM after Diab’s resignation, the situation on the ground is much more volatile.
Immediately after Hariri announced his resignation on Thursday, the Lebanese pound plummeted, reaching a new low of around 21,000 pounds for one U.S. dollar.
The government deadlock, which had been preventing Lebanon from taking the first step in the long path of economic recovery before the resignation, was devastating enough as is.
Now, this complicated file is back in the drawer, to be pulled back and fought over again by the Lebanese ruling class at a later time.
The draining bickering that has become the norm in Lebanese politics will continue, the subject this time being the person who will be designated to form a new government and possibly head it as prime minister.
Current ministers will continue to have limited and mostly administrative roles until a new government is formed, which means that Lebanon will be losing valuable time that should have been invested into ending the crisis — or, at least, attempting to stop the collapse.
Not only will the next PM, whenever appointed, have to get President Michel Aoun‘s approval for his Cabinet lineup, but the new government, when formed, will still have to earn the Parliament’s vote of confidence before it can be truly recognized as the successor of the current caretaker government.
In other words, judging by former PM Hariri‘s inability to break the deadlock in over 8 months, and by his predecessor Mustapha Adib’s failure to do so in around one month prior to that, the path ahead looks even less hopeful than before for Lebanon.