The Shiite Duo’s escalation and contention against the French initiative has become the central issue in Lebanon for the past week. To obstruct cabinet formation efforts, the Duo has been concocting arguments and claims that the Ministry of Finance ‘belongs’ exclusively to the Shiites whom they claim to unilaterally represent. In light of this escalation, Former Amal official and former Director General of the Ministry of Information Mohamad Obeid expressed opposition to the Duo regarding the ministerial issue. Noteworthy was the attack launched by Obeid against the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri! Obeid contended that the insistence on the Finance Ministry is an attempt by Berri to protect and maintain the corruption he and the rest of the political authorities have been involved in for many years.
Obeid pointed out that: “The concept of the “Third Signature”—that Shiite representatives are entitled to a third of cabinet representation—is made up, and it has not produced anything good. On the contrary, it has just plunged them deeper into corruption. The five-year experience with former Minister of Finance Ali Hasan Khalil was also not encouraging.” He continued by saying: “Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh recently stated in an interview that in the past 5 years, 81 billion dollars of debt have accumulated… Speaker Nabih Berri is hesitant about reopening files pertaining to the Ministry of Finance.”
In a televised interview with LBC last Friday, Obeid directed a question to Berri saying: “Why do you want the finance ministry? For the “Third Signature”? What guarantees that it would include you in the political equation? You head the Lebanese political system through the parliament which is the source of all political authority. Let’s call things the way they are. When there was a Shiite lead decision to prevent the election of a president other than Michel Aoun, you locked down parliament for 2 years and 8 months! Therefore, you (Shiites) hold the ultimate authority.”
He continued saying: “Today, and in all honesty, you’re holding on to the Ministry of Finance to protect the corruption and the extraction of wealth that you and the rest of the political class have been involved in. Now, following the crash of the economic system and the rise of sanctions, your concerns have shifted to concealing all the evidence of the plundering of the Lebanese people’s money!”