Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Protesters chant slogans during ongoing protests against the Lebanese political class, as riot police block a road leading to the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP)
Updated 10 December 2019

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”


Trump warns Iran’s supreme leader to be ‘careful with his words’

Updated 4 min 46 sec ago

Trump warns Iran’s supreme leader to be ‘careful with his words’

  • “Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” Trump tweeted

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday warned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to be “very careful with his words.”
“The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe,” Trump tweeted of Khamenei’s comments earlier Friday in Tehran.

According to Trump, Khamenei’s blistering speech, in which he attacked the “vicious” United States and described Britain, France and Germany as “America’s lackey’s,” was a mistake.
“Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” Trump tweeted.