Syria appoints veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister

Syria appoints veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister
Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree on Sunday Nov. 22, 2020, naming Faisal Mekdad as the new foreign minister replacing Walid Al-Moallem, a long time diplomat who held the post for more than a decade until he passed away last week. (File/AP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

Syria appoints veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister

Syria appoints veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister
  • Mekdad has represented Syria in conferences throughout the world since becoming deputy foreign minister in 2006
  • Mekdad has represented Syria in conferences throughout the world since becoming deputy foreign minister in 2006

DAMASCUS: Syria’s President Bashar Assad named a new foreign minister on Sunday, appointing Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to replace a longtime diplomat who passed away last week after holding the post for more than a decade.
c. During the past decade’s uprising against Assad, he became one of the country’s most prominent faces to the outside world.
Like his predecessor, Mekdad is a career diplomat who has been a close confidant of Assad and a harsh critic of the opposition during Syria’s nearly 10-year conflict. The war has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s population.
Mekdad has represented Syria in conferences throughout the world since becoming deputy foreign minister in 2006.
Assad also appointed Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, to take over the role of deputy foreign minister. Bassam Sabbagh, a senior Foreign Ministry official, was named to the UN post.


Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
Updated 44 min 48 sec ago

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
  • The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit
  • Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic”

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country’s political deadlock.
The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
Tensions between Aoun and Hariri, who publicly traded blame in December after failing to agree a cabinet, came to a head last week when a leaked video showed Aoun apparently calling Hariri a liar.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic” and there was no excuse to further delay forming a government.
“We wish that his excellency the president take the initiative and invite the prime minister-designate to a meeting.”
Veteran Sunni politician Hariri was named premier for a fourth time in October, promising to form a cabinet of specialists to enact reforms necessary to unlock foreign aid, but political wrangling has delayed the process since.
The leaked video that circulated on social media last week showed Aoun talking to caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about Hariri.
“There is no government formation, he (Hariri) is saying he gave me a paper, he is lying,” Aoun is heard saying.
Sources in the president’s office said the dialogue had been taken out of context and was not complete.
After the video circulated, Hariri tweeted biblical verses referring to wisdom not residing in bodies that were amenable to sin.
The souring of the relationship between Aoun and Hariri comes as the country continues to struggle with an acute financial crisis that has seen the currency sink by about 80%.
Lebanon’s health care system is also buckling under the pressure of a severe spike in COVID-19 infections. Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.