After months of deadlock, Lebanon has new government

Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, speaks to journalists at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)
Updated 01 February 2019
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After months of deadlock, Lebanon has new government

  • The new government describes itself as a consensus government
  • The politicians are confident the government will survive until the election of a new president three years from now

BEIRUT: After 252 days of political wrangling and increasingly serious economic struggles, the political factions in Lebanon finally announced the formation of a national unity government on Thursday night. Fireworks displays were among the celebrations that erupted after the announcement.
Led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the new government describes itself as a consensus government; ministerial posts are distributed between all political parties without any one having a casting vote in the cabinet. The politicians are confident the government will survive until the election of a new president three years from now.
The Future Movement’s Rhea Al-Hassan becomes the first female interior minister in the country’s history. In all, four women are included in the government, double the previous number.
The Kataeb Lebanese party is not represented for a second consecutive time. For the first time, the Sunni opposition is represented after it was handed the portfolio of the minister of state for foreign trade affairs.
Three decrees were issued by the new government announcing the resignation of the former government, conforming Saad Hariri as Prime Minister and naming the new ministers.
The Future Movement and its allies are represented by: Al-Hassan; Mohammed Choucair as minister of communications; Jamal Al-Jarrah as minister of information; Violette Khairallah as state minister for social and economic rehabilitation for youth and women; and Adel Afyouni as state minister for information technology affairs.
Lebanese Forces is represented by: Ghassan Atallah as deputy prime minister; May Chidiac as state minister for administrative development; Richard Kyumjian as social affairs minister; and Kamil Abou Sleiman as labor minister.
The ministers affiliated with Hezbollah and its allies are: Mohammad Fneish as youth and sports minister, Mahmoud Qamati as state minister for parliament affairs; and Jamil Sobhi Jabaq as health minister.
The Amal movement is represented by: Ali Hassan Khalil as finance minister; Hassan Al-Lakis as agriculture minister; and Mohammad Daoud Daoud as culture minister.
From the Strong Lebanon Bloc, Gebran Bassil kept his seat as minister of foreign affairs; Elias Abou Saab is defense minister, Nada Boustany is energy and water minister; Salim Jreissati is state minister for presidential affairs; Fadi Jreissati is environment minister; Albert Serhan is justice minister and Mansour Bteish is economy and trade minister.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is represented by Avedis Kidanian as tourism minister and Ghassan Atallah as displaced minister, while the representatives of the Democratic Gathering Bloc are Wael Abou Faour as industry minister and Akram Chouhayeb as education minister. Saleh al-Gharib represents Druze leader Talal Erslan as state minister for refugees affairs, and Marada is represented by Youssef Finianos, who keeps his seat as public works and transport minister. Hassan Mrad, representing the Sunni opposition, was appointed state minister for foreign trade affairs.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary bloc that he had agreed to compromise and swap the culture ministerial portfolio to clear the way for the formation of the government after some had tried to disable the country with “unreasonable demands.”


US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

Updated 5 min 57 sec ago
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US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes,” citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement.
Reuters first reported plans to send US additional troops to the Middle East earlier on Monday.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, more than a year after President Donald Trump announced Washington was withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to “nuclear blackmail.”