Lebanon resumes efforts to form government

Lebanon has been without a government since an election almost eight months ago. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2019
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Lebanon resumes efforts to form government

  • Gebran Bassil, visited Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday and said he presented Hariri with “ideas, and we will not lack the means or ideas to form a government.”

BEIRUT: With the end of the holiday period, Lebanese politicians have revived efforts to form a government before the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut on Jan. 16-18.

The Maronite Patriarchate’s media spokesman Walid Ghayyad told Arab News that the Hezbollah delegation that visited Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Wednesday to congratulate him on Christmas “reflected a positive atmosphere toward the process of forming a government.”

Ghayyad declined to discuss the details “for fear of spoiling things,” adding: “We don’t want to engage in analysis, but all that can be said is that the ways out were discussed.”

Mahmoud Qamati, deputy head of Hezbollah’s political council, said the delegation told Al-Rahi that “all those involved in forming the government are serious about it and there are no external obstacles.” Qamati added: “We expect the formation of the government soon because the intentions of all parties are positive and in the interest of the nation.”

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, visited Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday and said he presented Hariri with “ideas, and we will not lack the means or ideas to form a government.”

“There are ideas put forward to allow all parties to share the solution to the problem. We also discussed several ideas related to the formation of a government, and agreed that I would complete my contacts with the concerned parties and then communicate again.”

Abdul Rahim Murad, spokesman for six Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs, said no one had contacted them yet about the suggested solutions. “I don’t think Hezbollah will relinquish its support for us,” he said.


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 17 June 2019
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.