‘Political paralysis’: Lebanese patriarch points at Shiite leaders for cabinet delay

Lebanon's Maronite Christian Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai asked how one sect can demand “a certain ministry.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 September 2020

‘Political paralysis’: Lebanese patriarch points at Shiite leaders for cabinet delay

  • PM-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries
  • Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric took a swipe at leaders of the Shiite Muslim community on Sunday for making demands he said were blocking the formation of a new government and causing political paralysis in a nation in deep crisis.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, did not mention Shiites directly but asked how one sect can demand “a certain ministry.” Shiite politicians have said they must name the finance minister.
Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990 and where power is traditionally shared out between Muslims and Christians.
France has been pushing Lebanon to form a new cabinet fast. But a deadline of Sept. 15 that politicians told Paris they would meet has been missed amid a row over appointments, notably the finance minister, a post Shiites controlled for years.
Shiite politicians say they must choose some posts because rivals are trying to use “foreign leverage” to push them aside.
“In what capacity does a sect demand a certain ministry as if it is its own, and obstruct the formation of the government, until it achieves its goals, and so causes political paralysis?” the patriarch of Lebanon’s biggest Christian community said.
He said the Taif agreement, a pact that ended the 1975-1990 civil war, did not hand specific ministries to specific sects.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries.
The main Shiite groups — the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah — want to select the figures to fill several posts, including the finance minister, a vital position as Lebanon navigates through its economic crisis.
A French roadmap for Lebanon includes the swift resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund, a first step to helping deal with a mountain of debt and fix Lebanon’s broken banking sector. But it first needs a government.


Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

Updated 23 October 2020

Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

  • The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “fully rejected the declaration containing baseless accusations and allegations.”
During a trilateral regional summit on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions.
The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations. Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt while dismissing a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government as “legally invalid.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the declaration attacked Ankara rather than supporting peace and stability in the region. It repeated Turkey’s position that cooperation could only take place with the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in governing and sharing the resources of the ethnically divided island nation.
“We will continue with determination to protect our rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry statement said.
The trilateral summit took place amid high tensions between nominal NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and energy rights.
In late summer, Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by warships to conduct seismic research in a part of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece claims as its territory, which prompted the Greek government to deploy its own warships.
Turkey pulled the research ship back to shore for several weeks for maintenance and to allow time for diplomacy but redeployed the Oruc Reis on a new energy exploration mission. A maritime announcement by Turkey says the Oruc Reis and two other ships would continue working in the area until Oct. 27.
Turkey also has had ships prospecting for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone.