Hezbollah ‘blocking formation of Lebanon government’

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut on Nov. 13. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Hezbollah ‘blocking formation of Lebanon government’

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused Hezbollah on Tuesday of blocking the formation of a government after nearly six months of wrangling.

“It’s very regrettable that Hezbollah has put itself in the position of bearing responsibility for hindering the government,” Hariri said.

“I’ve done my job and the government is ready” otherwise, he said.

Hezbollah has pushed for Sunni politicians allied to the militia but opposed to Hariri to be represented in the Cabinet. Hariri has refused to give up a portfolio that would otherwise go to his own party.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday no government would be formed if his Sunni allies were not represented. “The lawmakers have demanded their right to be represented,” he said.

Hezbollah is the only political party not to have disarmed after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and has backed the Assad regime in the civil war in Syria.

On May 24, after parliamentary elections, President Michel Aoun nominated Hariri for his third term as prime minister and asked him to form a Cabinet. But disputes have dragged out the process, starting with a now resolved argument over Christian representation.

Meanwhile the US State Department on Tuesday declared Nasrallah’s son Jawad Nasrallah a “global terrorist.” It said he was a “rising leader” of the group who had recruited people “to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.”

The US also maintained its 21-year “foreign terrorist organization” designation of Hezbollah. 

 


Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

Updated 45 min 21 sec ago
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Lebanon denies forcing Syrians home from Beirut airport

  • Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement
  • General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces on Saturday denied accusations by rights groups that they had coerced Syrians who had landed at Beirut airport into signing forms to return to their war-torn country.
Human Rights Watch and four other groups Friday accused Lebanon of “summarily deporting” at least 16 Syrians on April 26, after forcing them to sign “voluntary repatriation forms.”
Most of them had been sent back to Lebanon after they were barred from entering northern Cyprus via Turkey, quashing their plans to seek asylum, HRW said.
But Lebanon’s General Security agency “categorically denies it forced any Syrian to sign any form,” it said in a statement carried by state-run news agency NNA on Saturday.
“Any Syrian who arrives in Lebanon and does not meet entry requirements, and... wants to go to Syria because they do not wish to remain in their country of residence for a number of reasons, signs a declaration of responsibility for choosing to return voluntarily,” it said.
Lebanon hosts almost one million Syrian refugees, a significant burden for a country that had 4.5 million inhabitants before the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011.
The latest deportees said they were “pressured” by General Security officers at the airport, the rights group said.
Around 30 Syrians have been deported from Beirut airport this year by the General Security agency, the rights group said, citing local refugee organizations.
General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019.
The conflict has wound down in Syria, after a string of victories by the regime and its Russian ally since 2015, but the United Nations has stressed all returns should be voluntary.
The rights groups say some 74 percent of Syrians in Lebanon lack legal residency and are at risk of detention.
Local media in Lebanon have reported that the Supreme Defense Council, whose decisions are not made public, recently instructed General Security to deport all Syrians who have entered the country illegally.
The official NNA news agency, quoting a “security report,” said Friday that Lebanese authorities had deported 301 Syrians between May 7 and May 20.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions inside the country and abroad.
The war was triggered in March 2011 by a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.