Faisal Karameh, MP for Tripoli, announced Wednesday the formation of a new parliamentary bloc called the “National Consensus.”
The new bloc includes four Sunni MPs close to Hezbollah, namely pro-Syrian MPs Adnan Traboulsi (Beirut II/Ahbash) and Taha Naji (Tripoli/Ahbash), as well as Hassan Mrad (West Bekaa/Indep.) and Mohamed Yahya (Akkar/Indep.).
The formation of the new group occurs during ongoing endeavors to elect a new president, with Hezbollah and the Amal Movement actively advocating for Sleiman Frangieh, the leader of the Marada Movement.
With the Future Movement and Saad Hariri on the sidelines of the Lebanese political scene, the emergence of the newly-formed Sunni bloc is important.
A new ‘Consultative Gathering’ group?
“The bloc we have founded today bears no resemblance to any past experience,” Karameh said in a speech after the announcement of the new parliamentary bloc.
Karameh was referring to the former “Consultative Gathering” group, which operated during the previous parliamentary term and consisted of eight Sunni MPs, including Karameh.
The Consultative Gathering, which had aimed to establish itself as a Sunni counterbalance to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, lacked significant influence. It was largely perceived as being closely aligned with Hezbollah, serving as an extension of the party’s agenda.
Since his reinstatement as an MP in November 2022, after the Constitutional Council controversially upheld his appeal against the invalidation of Rami Fanj’s candidacy, Karameh has been working diligently to establish a political bloc.
He seeks to play a significant role on the Sunni scene, taking advantage of his status as heir to a prestigious political family; his father and uncle — Omar Karameh and Rashid Karameh — both previously served as prime ministers.
This younger Karameh is now the only Sunni leader to have a parliamentary bloc, unlike caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who also hails from Tripoli.
“Our bloc goes beyond denominations, and we are in discussions with figures from all communities to get them to join us,” MP Mohamed Yahya told L’Orient-Le Jour.
However, to assert Sunni leadership on the Lebanese political scene, the support of Saudi Arabia is crucial. Karameh is well aware of this.
In his Wednesday speech, he emphasized Lebanon’s “Arab identity” and its “integration into its Arab environment” at a time when the region is undergoing a period of détente.
The bloc’s MPs are keen to position themselves as independent from Hezbollah.
“We are neither in the opposition camp nor in the government camp,” Karameh said.
No 'provocative' candidacy
The timing of the bloc’s formation of this bloc cannot be considered separately from the ongoing presidential election efforts.
“The gateway to all solutions is the election of a new president of the Republic,” Karameh stressed in his speech.
The country has been without a president for seven months as the various political stakeholders are unable to reach an agreement on a candidate.
While Amal and Hezbollah endorse Frangieh, the opposition camp and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) have agreed on the candidacy of Jihad Azour, a former finance minister.
Although Karameh is a close friend of the Frangieh family, he seems to be leaving the door open to a compromise.
“We don’t consider any candidacy to be a provocation, and we’re waiting until we have the list of all the candidates before making a decision,” Karameh said.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Sahar Ghoussoub.
Faisal Karameh, MP for Tripoli, announced Wednesday the formation of a new parliamentary bloc called the “National Consensus.” The new bloc includes four Sunni MPs close to Hezbollah, namely pro-Syrian MPs Adnan Traboulsi (Beirut II/Ahbash) and Taha Naji (Tripoli/Ahbash), as well as Hassan Mrad (West Bekaa/Indep.) and Mohamed Yahya (Akkar/Indep.).The formation of the new group occurs during...