Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri looks on as he speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri said on Tuesday all political sides had made concessions and he hoped a new government would be formed after President Michel Aoun returns from a trip abroad.
In the more than five months since a parliamentary election in May, politicians have been unable to agree a unity government that can get to work on badly needed economic reforms.
Lebanon, which has the world’s third largest public debt as a proportion of national output, faces an economic crisis if the political stalemate drags on, politicians have said.
“There are concessions from all sides, including the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM),” Hariri told reporters after a meeting of his Future Movement party.
“We hope for the formation of a government after the return of the president from Yerevan because the economic and social situation calls for a speedy government formation,” he said.
Aoun is expected to return from Armenia on Friday.
Rivalry between the two leading Christian parties — Aoun’s FPM, allied to the Hezbollah movement, and the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces (LF) — is widely seen as the main obstacle to a deal.
Hariri said his optimism that a government could be formed soon stemmed from a meeting he had with Aoun last Wednesday.
Hariri said on Thursday he believed the government would be formed within a week to 10 days because the economy could not tolerate further delay.
The formation of a new government would allow Lebanon to begin the substantial fiscal adjustment that the International Monetary Fund says it needs to improve its debt sustainability.
It would also likely unlock more than $11 billion worth of infrastructure investment pledged at a donors’ meeting in Paris in April.
“We are wrong if we think the world will wait for us to save ourselves. There are loans that won’t wait,” Hariri said.


Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

Updated 16 June 2019
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Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

  • Civilians and SDF forces are among the dead
  • Some people are claiming the fires were set on purpose

]QAMISHLI: Fires engulfing vital wheat fields across Syria’s northeast have killed at least 10 people, a war monitor said Sunday, as Kurdish authorities claim the blazes were set deliberately.
Kurdish authorities and the Damascus regime are competing to buy up this year’s harvest as fires — some claimed by the Daesh group — continue to scorch crops in the country’s breadbasket.
The victims included civilians and members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who died while trying to extinguish the blazes since Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The fires in the Kurdish-majority province of Hasakah also wounded another five people, according to a spokesman for the Kurdish Red Crescent.
“The victims were trying to douse the blaze but they were trapped by the fire,” Kamal Derbas said.
Kurdish officials have called on the US-led coalition to help extinguish blazes in the cereal and oil-rich region under their control.
“The largest fires have ravaged up to 350,000 hectares of land,” head of the Kurdish agriculture authority Salman Baroudo told AFP.
He claimed the fires were “deliberate,” saying they serve to “stir up strife between area residents and undermine the Kurdish administration” in the country’s northeast.
He did not specify who he believed was behind the blazes.
The official state news agency SANA on Saturday blamed the field fires in Hasakah on Kurdish-led forces.
It said they deliberately sparked a blaze to prevent local farmers from selling their crops to the government.
Analysts say wheat will be key to ensuring affordable bread prices and keeping the peace in various parts of the country in the coming period.
Farmers have separately blamed the fires on revenge attacks, sparks from low-quality fuel, and even carelessness.
SANA said Saturday that other field fires in the northwestern countryside of Hama province were sparked by jihadist artillery attacks.
Clashes in the area on Saturday between government forces and militants left dozens of combatants dead, including 26 pro-regime fighters, the Observatory said.
More than 370,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it erupted in 2011 with a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.