Lebanon’s Aoun intervening in stalled effort to form government

Lebanese President Aoun said on Tuesday he was intervening in stalled efforts to form a new national unity government, warning the country faced “catastrophe” if this failed. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Lebanon’s Aoun intervening in stalled effort to form government

  • More than six months since an election, efforts to form the new cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri are still logjammed with rival groups vying for cabinet posts
  • Lebanon is in dire need of a government able to implement the economic reforms the IMF says are needed to put its public debt on a sustainable path

BEIRUT: Iran was accused on Tuesday of sabotaging the formation of a government in Lebanon as President Michel Aoun intervened to try to end the impasse.

Political negotiations have been deadlocked since elections in May, in a row over representation in the Cabinet for six Sunni members of Parliament allied with Hezbollah. The 30 ministerial posts are allocated according to a sectarian political system.

“The issue is associated with what Iran wants and what it is given, to agree to the formation of a government or to continue hampering it,” the Minister of Refugees Affairs, Moeen Al-Marabi, a member of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement parliamentary bloc, told Arab News.

President Aoun said: “We are launching an initiative ... and it has to succeed, because if it doesn’t ... there is a catastrophe, we want to say it with all frankness, and this is the reason for my intervention.” 

He has held meetings with Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah representative Mohammed Raad MP. 

Hariri left Lebanon on Tuesday to attend an economic forum in London on investment and structural reforms in Lebanon. “God willing, we will find solutions,” he said.

“There are those who wish to form a government while others do not. We must give the president the chance to conduct his consultations.

“Everyone will be held accountable if a solution is not reached, not only the president and me.”


Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

Updated 6 min 42 sec ago
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Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday it was “quite possible” Iran was responsible for sabotage of Gulf oil interests, although he stopped short of making a definitive conclusion.
“Given all the regional conflicts that we have seen over the past decade and the shape of these attacks, it seems like it’s quite possible that Iran was behind these,” Pompeo, who later Tuesday will brief US lawmakers on rising tensions with Tehran, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that while the threat from Iran in the region remains high, the potential for attacks on Americans had been "put on hold."

"I think our steps were very prudent and we've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important," Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon. He did not provide further details.
"I'd say we're in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians," Shanahan added.