Lebanon appoints new army chief ending deadlock

President Michel Aoun (R) meeting with Lebanon’s newly appointed army chief, General Joseph Aoun in Beirut. (AFP/DALATI AND NOHRA)
Updated 08 March 2017
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Lebanon appoints new army chief ending deadlock

BEIRUT: Lebanon's cabinet Wednesday appointed a new army chief, General Joseph Aoun, ending a deadlock that twice forced an extension of the term of the military's sitting head.
The appointment of the successor to General Jean Kahwaji is the first by Lebanon's cabinet since it was formed after President Michel Aoun's election in October.
A ministerial source told AFP the appointment had "the consensus of all the political forces", adding the new chief was "well-known and removed from any political conflicts".
Michel Aoun, himself a former chief of Lebanon's army, is not related to Lebanon's president, although the two served together in the military.
Lebanon's already fractious political scene has faced tensions linked to the war in neighbouring Syria since March 2011.
A political stalemate left the country without a president for over two years until Michel Aoun was elected under a compromise deal in October 2016.
Under the deal, rival Saad Hariri was named prime minister and he formed a cabinet in December.
Lebanon is due to hold parliamentary elections in May 2017, the first legislative vote in eight years, after the body twice extended its own mandate.


In about-face, Iraq’s maverick Al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

Updated 38 min 28 sec ago
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In about-face, Iraq’s maverick Al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq’s parliamentary elections last month, campaigned on a platform to end sectarian politics and replace it with a government that puts Iraqis first
  • Instead, he has forged a postelection coalition with a rival Shiite bloc that includes some of the most powerful militias operating in Iraq — groups that get their funding and support from Tehran

BAGHDAD: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq’s parliamentary elections last month, campaigned on a platform to end sectarian politics and replace it with a government that puts Iraqis first.
Instead, he has forged a postelection coalition with a rival Shiite bloc that includes some of the most powerful militias operating in Iraq — groups that get their funding and support from Tehran.
The deal underscores the active role Iran is taking in shaping the next government of Iraq, sending key military and spiritual advisers to revive a grand coalition of Shiite parties as a conduit for its influence in Baghdad. It also illustrates how Iran has gained sway over Al-Sadr, who once called for booting foreign influence from Iraq.