The Doha talks have led so far to one agreement: the adoption of the 1960 law with amendments. The pro-government coalition’s push to put Hizballah’s arms up for discussion has been sidelined. Some progress has been made on the issue of forming a national unity government, but the significance of such a government dwindles by the minute as the 2009 parliamentary elections approach (hence the possibility of making progress in the first place).
In other words, Lebanon’s political leaders return to doing what they do best: gerrymandering. Jumblat’s man and part of the six-member committee on the election law in Doha, Akram Shuhayyib, has literally said that the election law is the entry point to discussing other hanging issues.
Translated into human talk, this means that if one thing is to come out of the Doha meetings, it will be an agreement on the election law. This follows logically since if there is one principle that unites the Lebanese political leadership, it is the principle of muhasasah (dividing the pie).
Everyone remembers how in the 2005 parliamentary elections the imaginary anti-Syrian/pro-Syrian divide unraveled in an alliance bringing together Hizballah, Mustaqbal, Nabih Birri, and Walid Jumblat. With this alliance, the Syrian election law of 2000 served the same purposes it was meant to serve under the Syrians: engineer the results.
Prepare for such surprises as the political leaders put their differences aside. The racegun has resounded and the rat race is about to begin.