Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

Saad Al-Hariri. (Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

  • Saad Hariri, hoped a new government would be formed in 2019

BEIRUT: Thousands of troops were on Lebanon’s streets Monday as the country prepared to ring in 2019.

A huge party was held in central Beirut for the second consecutive year, attracting people from the city’s neighborhoods and surrounding districts, and there were tough security measures in place from the military.

The Defense Ministry suspended issuing permits for carrying firearms on all Lebanese territory, and 13,000 military personnel were deployed to protect tourists, places of worship and commercial facilities, as well as manage traffic congestion.

Security forces reiterated their call for people to refrain from the deadly tradition of celebratory gunfire, saying that those carrying out this act would face prosecution.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, speaking at an event in the capital, said he hoped a new government would be formed in 2019.

The elections were in May 2018.

“I want the Lebanese to rejoice so that we turn a new page and think of the country and the people,” he said. “I hope the celebration meets the aspirations of the Lebanese people, and especially the people of Beirut.”

Economic bodies stressed the need to form a government at the beginning of 2019 and expressed their regret for the current turmoil, amid calls from social media users for a general strike. 

The country’s finance minister had earlier warned that Lebanon was entering a financial crisis.

“The repercussions and consequences of the economic crisis today are at their highest. “The crisis today has started to transform into a financial crisis from an economic crisis,” said Ali Hassan Khalil late on Saturday, according to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency.

“We hope it will not become a monetary crisis,” he said.

Grocery shops in Beirut were packed, a sign that some families were preparing to spend New Year’s Eve at home, with prices for festivities skyrocketing to as much as $1,500 per person.


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.