Gebran Bassil might not be the most inspiring choice for telecom minister (a post that he currently holds), and indeed, he seems like a really bad one, but what, really, is the issue with him? His incompetence? Qualities a different FPM minister could bring to the table that Bassil can't?
It appears that there is more at play here. Bassil, after all, is a mini Aoun, imitation-folly at best. He has the demonstrated ability to be obstructive and the willingness to bend the FPM's own alleged ideals to service the interests of his father in law, and more importantly, those of Hizbullah. For that, Aoun sees him as the preferred choice.
What we have here is a distrustful Aoun (of his own party) on the one hand, and on the other, an unspoken March 14 concern that Hizbullah's continued indirect control of the telecommunications ministry means no serious reform of the sector will take place, and that eavesdropping and domestic spying by Hizbullah will continue. It is not a secret that the party of perpetual "resistance" benefitted a lot from Bassil's control of the ministry, on many levels, including turning a blind eye to the existence of Hizbullah's private telecommunication network.March 14, and Saad Hariri in particular, has not been able to present a strong and convincing public argument against keeping Bassil as a minister. The PM designate probably does not wish to ruffle Hizbullah's feathers at a point the public thinks he has their blessings, though this might change following Hizbullah's recent criticism. Instead, Hariri's people have been resorting to arguments about nepotism, cohesiveness in the cabinet, ineligibility of those who lost elections, and lame and unimaginative accusations about Israeli-linked internet networks.
Hizbullah's defense of Aoun's demand wasn't a surprise, and takes advantage of Hariri's weak strategy, although their argument that there is no legal reason for election losers to become ministers contradicts their (and Aoun's) opposition to March 14 presidential candidates who had lost parliamentary elections (think Nassib Lahoud).
March 14, or what's left of it after Jumbaltt's departure, shouldn't be shy to point out Hizbullah's role here, and their continued use of Aoun and the FPM as cannon fodder. Anyone bemoaning the return of Syria to Lebanon should pause and reflect on how Hizbullah has pretty much filled the role previously played by Syrian intelligence. The Party of God has been playing the role of occupier since the May 7, 2008 invasion of Beirut and the apparently galvanizing attack on Jumblatt's Chouf.
There is more at stake here than just a game of stubbornness and obstruction. Unfortunately, Jumblatt was the one who once tasked himself with "exposing" some of Hizbullah's motivations, and their agenda to turn the country into an ideological concentration camp. Now that Jumblatt is on the divine victory bandwagon, singing the praises of the resistance "past, present, and future"-- , and lecturing Hariri about Sunni Islam, March 14 finds itself lacking the ability to throw punches.There is no doubt that March 14's victory in the elections was dealt a severe blow following Jumblatt's defection. This battle against Aoun over the telecom ministry would have been easier to fight with him on board. In 2008, Hariri backed a "Walid Jumblatt government" that didn't hesitate to take on Hizbullah. Today, he is being told to head a government of "true partnership" that will arguably be weaker and less effective than the ones Siniora headed. No wonder Saad seems so despondent at times. The resistance against Hizbullah's and Syrian domination has just become a lot harder. One wonders if he would have agreed to the premiership had Jumblatt announced his decision sooner. But that is a different discussion.