Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, Sept. 26, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 September 2020

Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

  • Al-Rai said Adib’s resignation had ‘disappointed citizens, especially the youth’
  • Frustration at Adib’s failure to form government was voiced by Lebanon’s religious communities

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday the nation faced “multiple dangers” that would be hard to weather without a government, speaking a day after the prime minister-designate quit following his failed bid to form a cabinet.
Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday after hitting a roadblock over how to make appointments in the sectarian system, striking a blow to a French initiative that aimed to haul the nation out of its deepest crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who had pressed Lebanon’s fractious politicians to reach a consensus so that Adib was named on Aug. 31, is to due to speak about the crisis in a news conference in Paris later on Sunday.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, Lebanon’s biggest Christian community, said Adib’s resignation had “disappointed citizens, especially the youth, who were betting on the start of change in the political class.”
Many top politicians, both Christian and Muslim, have held sway for years or even decades. Some are former warlords.
Rai said Lebanon now had to navigate “multiple dangers” without a government at the helm.
Rai’s comments were echoed on the streets of Beirut, where mass protests erupted in 2019 as years of mismanagement, corruption and mounting debts finally led to economic collapse, paralysing banks and sending the currency into freefall.
“There needs to be fundamental change. We need new people. We need new blood,” said 24-year-old Hassan Amer, serving coffee from a roadside cafe in the capital, which was hammered by a huge port blast on Aug. 4 that killed almost 200 people.
In nearby streets, walls were still plastered with graffiti from the protests, including the popular call for sweeping out the old guard: “All of them means all of them.”
Frustration at the failure of Adib, a Sunni Muslim, to form a government was voiced by many across Lebanon’s religious communities. Prime ministers under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system must be Sunnis.
A senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan, said on Saturday Adib’s resignation as the economy collapsed could “be described as a disaster,” calling for national unity to deliver reforms, the state news agency reported.
The cabinet formation effort stumbled after Lebanon’s two main Shiite groups, Amal and the heavily armed Iran-backed Hezbollah, demanded they name several ministers, including finance, a key role as the nation draws up a rescue plan.
Saad Al-Hariri, a former prime minister and leading Sunni politician, said in a statement he would not be involved in naming any new premier and said the French plan was “the last and only opportunity to halt Lebanon’s collapse.”
A French roadmap laid out a reform program for a new government to help trigger billions of dollars of international aid.

Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

Updated 29 October 2020

Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

  • Assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport
  • Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month

AL-MUKALLA: The coalition will continue backing Yemeni military forces fighting the Houthis until the country returns to normal, the commander of Arab coalition forces in the southern city of Aden has said.

During a meeting with Aden’s new governor, Ahmed Lamlis, Brig. Gen. Nayef Al-Otaibi said that the coalition would continue its support till Yemen recovered from the war and its state bodies functioned normally, Yemeni state media said on Wednesday.

The coalition’s assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport. The governor told the Arab coalition commander that local authorities in Aden were looking forward to receiving more support from the coalition, enabling them to bring back peace and stability to Aden and fix vital services there.

The Arab coalition and local security authorities at Aden seaport recently announced a 500kg cocaine and heroin bust worth millions of dollars. The drugs were hidden inside sugar bags in a large sugar shipment originating from Brazil. There was no information about arrests in connection with the drugs bust but local security officials said that investigations were underway.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month in fighting with government troops or in Arab coalition airstrikes.

Based on Houthi burial statements carried on their media, the rebels have buried more than 600 fighters, including 154 field leaders, since Oct. 1, in different provinces under their control. In the capital, Sanaa, the rebels have arranged funeral processions for 178 dead fighters, including 67 field commanders with different military rankings, the ministry said in a statement on its news site.

Most of the Houthi deaths occurred in the provinces of Marib and Jouf, where rebel forces are engaging in heavy fighting with government forces and allied tribesmen, backed by Arab coalition warplanes.

State media also quoted the governor of Jouf, Ameen Al-Oukaimi, as saying that government forces had inflicted a huge defeat on the Houthis during the latest intense fighting in the province. Yemeni Army commanders said that they foiled Houthis attempts to recapture the liberated Al-Khanjer military base and surrounding areas in Jouf.

In the western province of Hodeidah, the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said that a Houthi field military leader, Mohammed Yahya Al-Hameli, was killed during a foiled rebel assault in the province on Wednesday.

Fighting has continued across Yemen despite repeated calls by the UN and western diplomats for Yemeni factions to halt hostilities and focus on approving the UN-brokered peace initiative known as the Joint Declaration. On Thursday, British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron called on the internationally recognized President of Yemen Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthis to engage in serious talks to end the war.

“President Hadi and the Houthi leadership must work seriously and urgently with the UN Yemen envoy to end the war in Yemen by concluding the Joint Declaration in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” the ambassador said on Twitter.

The declaration proposes a nationwide truce ahead of the implementation of economic and humanitarian measures. When the fighting stops, the Yemeni parties will be asked to engage in direct talks to discuss postwar political arrangements.