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.


US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

Updated 12 min 39 sec ago
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US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

WASHINGTON: The United States has no plan for Syria as it proceeds with President Donald Trump’s order to pull American troops out of the country, a top official who quit in protest at the policy said on Sunday.
Brett McGurk, who was America’s envoy to the US-led global coalition against the Daesh group, said “there’s no plan for what’s coming next” and this is increasing the risk to US forces.
He spoke in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” after a suicide bomber on Wednesday killed four Americans and 15 others in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. It was the deadliest attack to hit US troops since they deployed to Syria in 2014 to assist local forces against the Daesh group.
The bombing came after Trump’s announcement last month that he was ordering a full withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops from Syria, shocking allies and leading to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as McGurk.
Senior US officials have since given contradictory statements about US intentions, but the Pentagon said it had begun the withdrawal, although how long it would take remained uncertain.
“The president has made that clear — we are leaving. And that means our force should be really with one mission: to get out and get out safely,” McGurk told “Face the Nation.”
But he added: “Right now we do not have a plan. It increases a vulnerability of our force... It is increasing the risk to our people on the ground in Syria and will open up space for Daesh,” another acronym for IS.
Most importantly, said McGurk, the US cannot expect “a partner” such as NATO-ally Turkey to take the place of the United States.
“That is not realistic. And if our forces are under order to withdraw, as at the same time they are trying to find some formula for another coalition partner to come in, that is not workable. That is not a viable plan.”
Trump announced the US withdrawal because, he said, IS had been defeated — something McGurk and other experts dispute.
McGurk has previously warned that the US pullout would shore up Syria’s President Bashar Assad and lessen America’s leverage with Russia and Iran.