Is Berri running Lebanon foreign policy ?


It appears that Speaker Nabih Berri has hijacked Lebanon’s foreign policy, despite the fact that no cabinet has been formed so far and the only cabinet that should be calling the shots is the cabinet headed by Caretaker PM Saad Hariri.

The main issue right now is Lebanon’s position at the UN Security council with respect to the draft that calls for sanctions against Syria.

Resigned Foreign Minister Ali Shami, a member of Amal Movement which is closely associated with the Iranian and Syrian backed Hezbollah militant group reportedly instructed Nawwaf Salam , Lebanon’s representative at the UN Security council to reject any resolution against Syria , without consulting caretaker PM Saad Hariri or president Suleiman . This prompted a warning by Lebanese Forces ‘ bloc MP Farid Habib who said Tuesday: ” We caution the foreign minister against continuing in his unconstitutional practices without consulting with or informing the president and the caretaker cabinet.”

Hariri’s sources told Akhbar al-Yawm on Wednesday :”No contact was made between Shami and Hariri regarding Lebanon’s position on the Security Council statement on Syria.”

On the other hand Foreign Ministry source told Akhbar al-Yawm: “Shami’s request that Salam should reject U.N. Security Council statement condemning violence against Syrian protestors coincides with Berri’s position towards the Syrian regime.

March 14 alliance are accusing Berri and Shami of overstepping President Michel Suleiman and Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri.

Lebanon has a non-permanent seat on the Security Council from October 2010 to October 2011.

A March 14 ministerial source criticized ” Shami’s behavior” in remarks published Wednesday. He told An Nahar daily that the caretaker minister has sent instructions to Lebanon’s representatives in New York by overstepping the country’s top authorities.

The source said that when the March 14 forces asked Shami to summon the Syrian ambassador over accusations by Damascus against Future Movement MP Jamal al-Jarrah, the minister rejected such a move saying it required a cabinet session. However in the case of a Security Council statement on Syria, Shami gave Salam instructions “without resorting to any other institution” in the country, the source told An Nahar.

“Given its position in the Security Council, Lebanon will never accept a statement that harms Syria,” Berri told As Safir.


Lebanon First bloc MP Khaled Zahraman voiced surprise over Shami’s “irresponsible” act on Tuesday in which he overstepped his jurisdictions,National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Zahraman said that the constitution clearly states that the government’s policy on such matters should be decided by the entire cabinet.

“Shami’s actions without resorting to the cabinet are unprofessional, irresponsible and unconstitutional.”

“Engaging the country in stances that have negative repercussions and using double standards when viewing Arab uprisings are only a part of what the Lebanese people will confront when March 8 is in power”, he also said.