Lebanon gets a new cabinet; challenges remain

Powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah is left in comfortable position with more of its allies in cabinet.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L)


2016/12/25 Issue: 87 Page: 1


The Arab Weekly
Dalal Saoud



Beirut - The Lebanese political dy­namic that emerged with the election of Michel Aoun as president seven weeks ago was reinforced by the formation of a national ac­cord cabinet that comprises mem­bers of most of the country’s politi­cal groups, including the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The 30-member cabinet, an­nounced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on December 18th, will have to deal with many pressing is­sues after almost two-and-a-half years of political paralysis. Among these are the fallout from the war in neighbouring Syria, maintain­ing the country’s security, reviving the stagnant economy, attracting much-needed investment and host­ing nearly 1.5 million Syrian refu­gees.

However, the cabinet’s main task will be preparing for parliamentary elections — the first in eight years — due in May. Hariri said the gov­ernment’s “first mission” was to work with the parliament to draft an electoral law that would secure “proportional and right representa­tion”. That would mean meeting a demand by Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, for greater Christian represen­tation.

The battle is also about securing a majority in the next parliament, which, if stripped away from Hariri and his anti-Syria/Iran allies, would give Hezbollah and its supporters the upper hand in the legislative council, too.

Hezbollah got its usual two port­folios — this time the ministries of Industry and Sports — in the new cabinet but its pro Syria/Iran allies have the Foreign, Defence and Jus­tice ministries, indicating Hezbol­lah’s influence is likely to increase on that front.

The new government includes 23 newcomers, among them Enaya Ezzeddine, who wears the veil, as minister for Administrative De­velopment. The appointment of a man, Jean Ogasapian, as the minis­ter in charge of Women’s Affairs, has been criticised. As has the choice of retired judge Salim Jreissati, a Christian, as Justice minister. He assisted the legal defence of Hez­bollah members tried in absentia by the Special Tribunal in The Hague for the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, Saad’s father.

The new cabinet still must be ap­proved by parliament.

Lebanese hopes have been re­vived by the positive political devel­opment in the country but neither the new cabinet nor the electoral law being drafted by the ruling par­ties themselves is likely to bring about major change, analysts say.


Dalal Saoud is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Arab Weekly. She is based in Beirut.


As Printed
MENA Now
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Dalal Saoud

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editors: Jonathan Hemming and Richard Pretorius

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

Opinion Section Editor: Claude Salhani

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Levant Section Editor: Jamal J. Halaby

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Senior Correspondents:

Mahmud el-Shafey (London)

Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Correspondents

Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobeidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Rasha Elass - Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

www.alarab.co.uk

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved